KARE 11 Investigates: Private Guards, No Oversight, a Pattern of Rape

  • A.J. Lagoe, Steve Eckert, Aaron Adelson, Gary Knox, Chris Vanderveen
  • November 7, 2023
  • Prospect

CHAPTER 1 The Predator and the Prey

In June of 2019, Danielle Sivels was living in Texas when she was arrested on an out-of-state warrant for probation violations stemming from a 2015 hit-and-run.

Danielle, 34 at the time, battled mental illness, addiction, and grew up in and out of the foster care system surviving family violence and sexual assault as a child.

She was now set to be extradited nearly a thousand miles to Ramsey County, Minnesota.

Ramsey, like countless jurisdictions across the country, outsources its long-distance prisoner transport to private for-profit companies because it’s cheaper than making the long treks themselves.

A pair of guards from Ramsey’s contractor, Inmate Services Corporation (ISC), headquartered in West Memphis, Arkansas, picked Danielle up at the Dallas County jail.

She had been on her way to the gym when arrested and was wearing just workout leggings and a sports bra.

She was placed in handcuffs, leg shackles, and a belly chain and loaded into a white passenger van filled with other inmates, all male, for extradition to the Ramsey County jail in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Danielle says the two-day journey was a trip through hell filled with terror, threats, and repeated sexual assaults by an ISC guard.

“It could have been prevented,” she said of the alleged assaults. “It could have all been prevented.”

Danielle is right.

KARE 11’s investigation, based on a review of thousands of court documents, contracts, federal records, media reports, and interviews with former guards, detainees, and attorneys finds ignored warnings, legal loopholes, and broken promises.

The result: a nationwide failure to provide oversight of the private prisoner transport industry that has fueled a systemic pattern of rape and abuse.

Editor’s Note: KARE 11 does not identify victim-survivors of sexual assault without their consent. In some cases, only initials or a first name are used to protect their privacy.

Posted from KARE 11