This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," May 10, 2004, that was edited for clarity.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Could we have avoided this whole prison mess if simply we assigned a private company to handle this whole prison mess? My next guest runs the largest private prison group in the United States. He’s John Ferguson, president and CEO of Corrections Corporation of America.
John, good to have you.
JOHN FERGUSON, PRES. AND CEO, CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA: Glad to be here, Neil, thank you for having us today.
CAVUTO: First, your impression of what you have heard out of Iraq. Was this just poorly executed prison oversight or what?
FERGUSON: Well, you know, Neil, we are the largest private correctional company in the United States. And we do not have any business overseas. And it is really hard for us to comment on the operations and what brought that about. Obviously, we, like all Americans did not like the images that we saw.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you, I know you wouldn’t get into this because obviously you have enough going on with some 59 prisons and close to 7000 beds in this country. But if you were asked to take over some of those Iraqi facilities, would you?
FERGUSON: I’d have to answer that when the time came. Obviously we would entertain any overtures from the secretary of defense, but at the moment it would be hard to say whether that is something that we would consider or not. And by the way, we have 65 facilities and some 62,000 inmates.
CAVUTO: OK. I misspoke.
FERGUSON: That’s OK.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you about what you have seen out of Iraq and whether it is common procedure in facilities, private or otherwise, to strip inmates, to corner them, some of the things that you have seen, some of the more horrendous photos, what is acceptable versus what is not?
FERGUSON: Well, in our facilities we would not accept anything like that. We obviously have certain standards that we are held to, the minimum of which are constitutional standards but we also feel we take it to a higher level. In fact that is one of the benefits of the use of the private sector here in the United States is we have a much higher account ability. It is simple that private prisons have the oversight of governments as opposed to government over-sighting itself. So the images you see there you would not find in a CCA facility.
CAVUTO: All right. But would it be unusual to have some prisoners strip anyway if you’re going to do nothing more than search them? In other words, I’m wondering what some of this stuff that does looks clearly offensive might have a purpose that we are missing?
FERGUSON: Well, again, I think part of what is going on in Iraq deals with not only incarceration but some interrogation. And again it would be hard for us to be able to say what is happening over there, and how -- and whether it is appropriate or not appropriate.
CAVUTO: John, do you look at the prison situation here in the United States, have you changed any of your policies given some of the pictures and notoriety we have been seeing coming out of Iraq?
FERGUSON: We have not had to change our policies based on that. Our policies that were in place would not allow any situation in which we would not like public images. And again, we are held to a pretty high standard of accountability, because we have constant oversight by our government partners. Therefore, you know, we know that that happened. Plus, it is -- the leadership of this company, starting with me, makes sure that each employee knows that a CCA facility is expected to meet the highest quality standards and deliver a safe quality facility to our customer base.
CAVUTO: All right, John Ferguson, I want thank you very much, appreciate your stopping by.
FERGUSON: You’re welcome.
CAVUTO: John Ferguson the president and CEO of Corrections Corporation of America.
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