A padlock hangs from a prison cell door.
A padlock hangs from a prison cell door. - 
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A new investigation by Huffington Post reporter Chris Kirkham reveals some startling allegations about a for-profit, privately held juvenile prison operator called Youth Services International, which has facilities in Florida and several other states. Kirkham spent months analyzing documents and talking to former prison employees and children who were incarcerated in Youth Services International facilities.

What Kirkham found were stories of alleged sexual abuse and neglect, understaffed prisons where juvenile inmates were able to assault each other, and state regulatory systems that failed to raise any red flags.

"Companies like this really don't have a lot of incentive to do better work if the state isn't holding them accountable," Kirkham says. "It's not like there's no inspection process at all with the state of Florida. But ultimately the question of are these kids okay? Are they learning anything? Are they doing well? That's not really the primary part of these inspections. It's a lot more about contract compliance, it's a lot more about cost effectiveness."

You can read the Chris Kirkham's piece "Prisoners of Profit" on The Huffington Post.

Follow David Brancaccio at @DavidBrancaccio