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Prison contractor MTC accused of billing Texas millions for inmate treatment programs it didn’t provide

Austin (texas tribune) — One of the biggest non-public jail corporations within the nation defrauded the state of Texas by charging millions for jail treatment programs not provided throughout the pandemic, new grievance File a declare with the state auditor.

In 2020, with the coronavirus killed hundreds of prisoners Throughout the nation, the Texas Pardon and Parole Board has staunchly resisted efforts to launch extra parole-eligible folks. It continues to require most inmates authorized for parole to first full a treatment program, which generally takes three to 9 months and focuses on life abilities, substance abuse rehabilitation or treatment for these convicted of intercourse crimes.

However as employees and inmates get sick, Texas prisons primarily hold women and men locked up of their cells or dormitories, whereas the folks inside 2020 informed the Texas Tribune Quite a bit of required programming doesn’t occur. On Monday, LatinoJustice, a jail rights advocacy group, claimed that regardless of the shortage of companies, the administration and coaching firm continued to invoice the state for this system and compelled inmates to forge paperwork proving they’d obtained treatment.

In a letter to the auditor, Andrew Case, a senior guide at LatinoJustice, wrote: “As a substitute of offering group remedy classes and one-on-one counseling to these within the rehabilitation program, MTC employees merely Do paperwork by myself time,” complained.

“The MTC then forces folks to fill out time sheets stating that they’ve obtained treatment from an MTC counselor that was not offered by the MTC,” Case continued. “MTC employees instructed folks that if they didn’t fill out false time sheets, they might be disciplined or lose parole and be pressured to return to jail.”

Citing state contracts, program stories and dozens of interviews with incarcerated women and men, the grievance claims the fraud continues to be occurring.

MTC spokesman David Martinson declined to reply questions Monday, referring the Tribune to the Texas Division of Legal Justice. TDCJ spokesman Robert Hurst issued a press release saying the jail system will absolutely cooperate with the state auditor’s investigation of the grievance and launch its personal inner investigation.

“in consequence of [COVID-19] Protocols, various treatment programs are in place to make sure that prisoners proceed to obtain treatment and, the place social distancing necessities are met, are appropriately handled in group remedy,” the assertion learn.

Adherence to the treatment plan was ensured by random website visits, the company stated.

This isn’t the primary time MTC, a non-public jail operator that additionally contracts with state prisons for rehabilitation programs, has confronted fraud allegations.Simply final week, Mississippi’s state auditor Requested MTC to pay practically $2 million passing by marshall plan. The MTC stated it has repaid penalties for not having sufficient staff beneath the phrases of the contract.

LatinoJustice’s complaints centered on three Texas prisons that contracted the MTC for pre-release programming on substance and alcohol abuse from March 2020 to January of this 12 months, bringing the corporate greater than $500 in mixed income. Ten thousand U.S. {dollars}. Total, MTC has 17 energetic contracts with TDCJ value greater than $100 million, the advocacy group famous.

The contract between MTC and TDCJ requires the corporate to provide a minimal of group remedy, particular person remedy, and different companies. These necessities are additionally enshrined in state regulation. These programs are designed to assist prisoners transition to the free world and are sometimes related to their incarceration.

For Joshua Ladd, that meant he needed to bear a substance abuse treatment program earlier than being eligible for parole for a methamphetamine-related conviction. However the 48-year-old stated that when he was transferred to Gist State Prison for treatment in April 2020, he obtained no assist from the MTC to maintain the surface clear.

As a substitute of group or particular person counseling, inmates are handed over to fill out work packages, Rudd informed the Tribune. Regardless of being required to fill out varieties indicating their each day treatment, they largely simply sit there and wait to go house.

“Possibly each different week, a counselor would are available for an hour,” he stated when employees lastly began shifting into the dormitory, which is house to about 60 males. “One counselor simply sat there and stated ‘I’m going to allow you to converse.’ … She simply sat there and browse her e book.

A pattern time sheet was taped to the window of one of the dorms, telling them to cross off 20 hours of direct remedy when all they obtained was paperwork, he stated.

“It was only a joke, a complete joke,” Ladd stated. “It’s disgusting that they get away with these items. “Simply signal right here and we’ll receives a commission. “

Ladd and a number of other different inmates jailed in 2020 wrote affidavits to accompany LatinoJustice’s grievance. However the costs don’t simply apply to indicate interruptions throughout the top of the pandemic. A lady who’s presently collaborating within the MTC Behavioral Pre-release Program at Halbert State Prison stated the apply continues.

Kathryn Theune, 32, stated there was a gaggle program, however it was led by inmates, not MTC staff. She stated she has not had any particular person remedy since she began college in September.

“As well as, we regularly[sic] to the break room early within the morning for an hour of ‘programming’ through which no counselor was current,” Theune stated in an affidavit final month. “We weren’t allowed to go away the break room throughout this hour, however Sit in for an hour after recording our presence. “

The advocacy group argued that the MTC didn’t cease providing this system to stop additional unfold of the coronavirus contained in the jail, however as a result of it “realized it might earn more money.”

LatinoJustice stated it was unclear how a lot the TDCJ knew concerning the discount in companies as a result of the company has been preventing in court docket to launch paperwork about this system and the pandemic. The group argues that such paperwork might “reveal the extent of the TDCJ’s information of the fraud dedicated by the MTC.”

“For instance, if these communications present that TDCJ knew that MTC was chopping companies, however it didn’t request the reductions it needed to pay, then TDCJ must be liable for the truth that MTC charged for companies that had been by no means offered,” Case wrote with LatinoJustice lawyer Norma Esquivel.

The Texas auditor will evaluation the grievance, as it does for all fraud allegations involving state funds, however it is unclear what is going to occur subsequent and when.

This text initially appeared within the Texas Tribune www.texastribune.org. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media group that informs and interacts with Texans on public coverage, politics, authorities and statewide points.

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