Shoplifter Dies After 1,000 Mile Trip Inside Private Prison Transport Van

| by Michael Allen

Denise Isaacs died on Sept. 16 after a 1,000 mile trip from Kentucky to Punta Gorda, Florida, where she had a warrant for a probation violation stemming from a 2012 shoplifting charge.

Isaacs, who suffers from bipolar disorder, anxiety and chronic abdominal pain, was placed in a private transport van, operated by Prisoner Transportation Services of America, with 10 other handcuffed inmates during the grueling two-day trip.

“I knew she wouldn’t be be able to make a trip like that because of her weakness and pain,” Isaacs' daughter Kallie told The Miami Herald.

Isaacs was found dead inside the van during a stop at a Miami, Florida, Taco Bell restaurant.

The two transport officers, who drove the van, reportedly called their bosses at Prisoner Transportation Services of America in Tennessee before calling 911.

The exact cause of Isaacs' death has not been determined, but her death is another sad statistic in the private prison industry, which always promises to save taxpayers money.

On their website, Prisoner Transportation Services of America claims: “We can move your prisoner at less cost than if you did it yourself" and "We maintain an excellent safety record, and our customers rave about our reliability."

Prisoner Transportation Services of America adds, "Our agents are highly trained, experienced, and the best in the business. They understand the importance of safety, timeliness, and efficiency."

The Charlotte Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail in Punta Gorda and pays Prisoner Transportation Services of America with taxpayer money, refused to comment.

“They let someone die on their watch, and this should not have happened,” Donald Cohen, executive director of In the Public Interest, a nonprofit group, told The Miami Herald.

Isaacs was arrested in Aug. 2012 for allegedly placing more than $1,200 worth of goods in a shopping cart and leaving a Walmart store in Port Charlotte, Florida, without paying.

She pleaded no contest to the shoplifting charge and was sentenced to 18 months of probation.

Isaacs moved to Kentucky where she continued her probation, but the Florida Department of Corrections claimed that she failed to do community service and pay $607.98 in fines.

Isaacs was arrested in Kentucky and placed in a jail in Lexington.

Isaacs' daughter Kallie said that her mother had not been given her psychiatric medications while in the Lexington jail.

“They shouldn’t have let her make the trip in that condition, knowing she was not eating, knowing she was hallucinating,” Kallie stated. “They should have left her here [in Kentucky] and given her medical attention.”

A Prisoner Transportation Services of America van picked Isaacs up in Lexington on Sept. 14 and drove south. Isaacs died on Sept. 16.

Sources:, The Miami Herald (Image Credit: Charlotte County Sheriff's Office Media Handout)