Kansas prison operator, phone provider to pay $3.7M

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The operator of a privately run federal prison in Kansas and its phone provider have agreed to pay $3.7 million to settle a lawsuit filed by attorneys who alleged that calls with their clients at the facility were illegally recorded.

CoreCivic, which runs the Leavenworth Detention Center, and its phone provider, Securus Technologies, agreed to pay the money into a fund that will be distributed among attorneys who had in-person or phone communications intercepted, the Kansas City Star reported.

A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri approved the agreement Wednesday. The settlement comes a year after the companies agreed to pay $1.6 million to current and former detainees who made similar allegations.

CoreCivic told the newspaper in an email that the company maintains that there was no wrongdoing on the part of its company or its employees.

“We’ve worked hard with all parties to resolve this issue in a professional and courteous manner,” CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist said.

The attorneys for the plaintiffs and Securus Technologies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys who had their in-person clients visits or phone calls intercepted or recorded will be entitled to up to $10,000 in compensation under the terms of the settlement. Those who had both in person and phone communications intercepted will be entitled to up to $20,000.

David Johnson and Adam Crane, the named litigants who sued in 2016, will each be awarded $25,000. Just under $1.3 million will be set aside for attorneys fees.

The rest of the money will be donated to Legal Aid of Western Missouri and Kansas Legal Services.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson held the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas in contempt of court, finding it willfully violated court orders during an independent investigation of the systemic practice. The judge also found that some federal prosecutors improperly listened to recorded communications between inmates and their attorneys.

More than a hundred criminal defendants have filed petitions seeking to get their sentences vacated or indictments dismissed. Those proceedings are ongoing.