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Happy Anniversary, CCA!

5:32 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

I apologize for falling silent for the past few months.  Life caught up with me.  Anyway, don’t think I’ve stopped hating on private prisons – far from it.  I just haven’t really had the time to write.

But I can’t let a day like today go by without some mention.  Today, CCA turns 30.  That means for three decades we as a nation (beginning with Tennessee (thanks a lot, Tennessee)) have been bullishly pursuing a failed experiment in which we turn over society’s most vulnerable members to private companies, who systematically fail to live up to their contractual standards, let alone any notion of human decency, in how they operate their facilities.  In the process, millions of lives have been impacted, with all but a very few exceptions (the corporate brass) being worse for the wear.

We’ve sold our morality to the lowest bidder, repeatedly, to the tune of BILLIONS of taxpayer (i.e. my and your) dollars every year.  Meanwhile, these companies earn hundreds of millions of dollars (again, our money) in profit annually. But even THAT wasn’t enough, because now CCA and the GEO Group are reincorporating as something called Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which, in a nutshell, is a legal maneuver that will allow them to largely avoid paying taxes.

So CCA, GEO Group, MTC, and everyone else who takes my money to abuse and mistreat people, on the thirtieth anniversary of your despicable existence, here’s a heart-felt

Fuck You.

from me to you.

New Hampshire Moving Ahead with Prison Privatization Plans

11:09 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

New Hampshire’s legislature and governor have been looking to privatize much, if not all, of the state’s prison system for the past few months. The state submitted a request for proposals in April, and in May announced a new proposal to send all male prisoners to private facilities.

Apparently not content with just considering prison privatization proposals, New Hampshire wants to partially privatize the process of figuring out the bids.  The state expects the process to take about 2.5 months and is seeking technical assistance to sort through the plethora of information they’ll receive responsive to the request for proposals.  The consultant, the only one who bid, was just awarded a contract for nearly $175,000.  The state had actually asked 3 other companies to bid, but they all declined.  A spokesperson for one of the companies that turned down the state said they did so because they didn’t want to be involved in a process where “the job would go to the lowest bidder.”  I’m sure this in no way could lead to a conflict of interest or poor decision-making by the state.

CCA and MTC appear to be at the forefront of the cash grab; CCA is looking into 3 sites, and MTC seems pretty competitive in the bidding process.  Folks in New Hampshire are becoming a little frustrated with the process and its lack of transparency; an agency within the executive branch has the authority to award the contract with little to no public discussion of the potential risks and ramifications.  This is especially troubling given the industry’s propensity to not save money and have higher rates of incidents like assaults, escapes, and other security issues.

MTC Takes Over Where The GEO Group Left off

6:25 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

After the state of Mississippi announced it was not renewing its contract with the GEO Group (or that the GEO Group bailed on the state, depending on how you see it) following a litany of abuse and mismanagement issues at the prisons it ran for the state, the Department of Corrections needed to bring in another company to operate the private facilities formerly run by them.  Apparently, the state did not consider just hiring additional corrections staff and taking control of the prisons itself.

Into the picture now comes MTC, or Management and Training Corporation, the third-largest private prison operator in the U.S. MTC most recently made headlines as the company in charge of the Kingman prison in Arizona, from which 3 felons (2 convicted murderers) escaped, fled across the country, killed an elderly couple, and stirred up a multi-state manhunt.  Shortly thereafter, an audit found the facility had numerous security flaws that the prisoners exploited in their escape.  This was part of what prompted many advocates to call for a statewide audit of private prisons that found the facilities to cost more than government-operated prisons.  Then Republicans in the state legislature passed a bill to prohibit future audits. Of course.

So this is the company that Mississippi has apparently seen fit to give responsibility for prisoners in the former GEO Group facilities.  MTC will operate 3 prisons for the state; Walnut Grove, East Mississippi CF, and Marshall County CF, while CCA will continue to operate an additional 2 facilities (one of which just suffered a riot).  But many people, including this author, are skeptical that there will be any signifncant improvement at the prisons.  Hopefully, Mississippi will have learned from at least some of its mistakes with the GEO Group, such as not having an enforcement mechanism in the contract to ensure adequate staffing levels.

Meanwhile, it looks like the GEO Group is seeking to expand northward into Canada since its reputation has taken such a hit here, and MTC is focusing their sights on our continental brethren as well.  I just hope the Canadians learn from our mistakes.

Another Major Blow to Private Immigration Detention

4:22 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

 

Following fresh on the heels of the announcement that the citizens of Crete, IL had successfully defeated a proposal from ICE and CCA to build a private prison there, Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines, FL residents got their own bit of great news: CCA isn’t going to build there either!  After the mayor demanded an answer following months of back-and-forth, the company and ICE announced it was no longer pursuing the site.  This is a huge victory for all residents of the area, especially those who fought so hard to keep their neighborhood from becoming another victim of the prison industrial complex.  Congratulations to everyone involved!

 

Another Riot in a CCA Prison

1:24 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

Last week, a CCA prison in Woodville, MS became the site of the latest private prison riot.  At least 23 prisoners were injured in the disturbance to the point where they required medical attention.  Fights raged for nearly an hour before the prison staff got the facility back under control.

Crete, IL Residents Slay the Private Prison Giant

7:30 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

Residents of Crete, IL have accomplished the (near-)impossible feat of successfully rejecting a plan by CCA and ICE to build an immigration detention center in their town.  The plan had come under heavy fire from residents practically from its inception, but CCA and ICE pushed hard to get permission to build the facility despite overwhelming opposition by the citizens.  The Sheriff of Lake County even threw his hat into the ring – publicly supporting legislation that could have prevented the facility’s construction (it would have prevented agencies in the state from contracting with private prison companies), because the plan was clearly designed to benefit a private company with no obvious benefit to the community.  The legislation ultimately failed, but that wasn’t enough to dissuade opponents of the facility from continuing to protest and work against it, even though many of their representatives had failed to support the bill.

In a voice vote, village trustees unanimously decided to reject the proposal.  This is a monumental victory for the hundreds of groups and individuals who worked so hard to prevent this facility from coming to town.  Congratulations to everyone involved!  This just goes to show that no matter how big and powerful some corporations can get, they can never completely trump the will of the majority.

Did Ohio’s AG Bend the Law to Help Prison Privatization?

9:52 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

That’s basically the conclusion of this analysis, which says that Attorney General Mike DeWine’s ruling that the Ohio State Police would still be responsible for investigating crimes at the Conneaut prison the state sold to CCA was a politically-motivated, and possibly illegal, action.  Essentially, the author claims that DeWine overruled a couple of career attorneys in his office to hand down his ruling, which facilitated the politically perilous privatization venture — folks in Conneaut were initially up in arms over the potential the sale had to unduly strain its police resources.

So a governor who hired a former CCA employee as the director of his DOC decided to sell a prison to CCA, then after some of his constituents were rightfully upset and fearful at the ramifications that would have for them, his attorney general bent the law to quell those concerns.  The attorney general happens to be the same guy who rallied federal support to re-open a private prison (with a $129 million contract to CCA) a few years ago that’s been at the center of a dispute over back taxes.  Great.

CCA Can’t (Or Won’t) Defend Its Business

1:34 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

About three weeks ago, the ACLU challenged CCA to a public debate on the merits of prison privatization, a timely request given that it came on the day of CCA’s shareholder meeting where it faced a proposal from a shareholder that would have required the company to report on its efforts to curb sexual violence within its facilities.  The ACLU asked CCA to discuss rationales behind using private companies to perform an inherently governmental function, particularly when the industry has failed in so many respects, from efficiency and oversight to the humane treatment of the prisoners it houses.

CCA, incapable of actually defending its morally reprehensible and laughably inefficient business model, meekly rejected the ACLU’s offer to debate in a public forum. I guess they find it difficult to justify abusing and neglecting human beings while reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in profit every year, and having spent millions more lobbying for an ever-expanding prison industrial complex while crime rates continue to fall.

Just a hunch…

Beating a Malnourished, Restrained Man to Death

1:33 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

UPDATE: Retraction

First published on WhyIHateCCA

CCA is being sued by the family of Michael Minnick, a Tennessee man who was killed by Sheriff’s deputies while in restraints.  After being arrested for failing to appear in court for a suspended drivers’ license hearing, Minnick was taken into custody and turned over to CCA.  Some time later, he was admitted to the hospital for loss of muscle mass and extreme dehydration.  While in the hospital and handcuffed, he was beaten so severely by the guards that he fell into a coma.  The hospital was able to revive him temporarily, but Mr. Minnick died a few hours later.

Florida’s Love Affair With Private Prisons

7:56 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

A tiny jail window.

Historic jail in Florida. Photo by Marsanne Petty.

Many lawmakers in Florida, home of the GEO Group, are enamored with the idea of prison privatization.  Legislators, mostly Republican, have thrice attempted (and failed) to privatize half the state’s prison system within the past two years. The former speaker of the house, serving time in prison, is still being investigated by the FBI in part for his role in bringing a private prison to the state and attempting to force the closure of multiple state facilities to populate it. He’s also the target of a federal grand jury investigation for his dealings with the GEO Group.

In the towns of Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines, residents have been waging war against CCA and ICE, who want to build a huge immigration detention center there. Upset over the risks of bringing a private prison to town, residents have already faced legal harassment after they have failed to capture the attention or sympathy of their representative, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. The parties are engaged in a struggle over resources, as CCA is attempting to strong-arm the small towns into providing water and sewer services to the prison. Pembroke Pines has already had to shell out more than $120,000 in legal fees to battle a detention center that the federal government seems to be forcing on them.

The most recent battle in Florida has arisen over the state’s plans to privatize health care for all its prisoners, which I guess was the fall-back option if wholesale privatization failed. The plan is being challenged by the Nurses’ Association, which filed a lawsuit similar to the one that successfully defeated the wholesale privatization; basically saying the state Legislature didn’t have the authority to order such a sweeping change to such a huge portion of the state budget without passing a stand-alone bill. It’s estimated that as many as 2,800 jobs and $300 million of the budget could be impacted by the switch, which is also opposed by the union that represents COs.

It seems simple to explain part of this love affair, the GEO Group and CCA have contributed huge sums of money to Florida legislators, with most of that going to Republicans. During the last election cycle, the industry donated nearly $1 million to campaigns, with more than 80% of that coming from the GEO Group. GEO has already given more than $100,000 to Governor Scott for the upcoming election.

But just looking at the campaign contributions fails to reveal the whole story. Governor Scott’s closest advisor and de facto gatekeeper, Steve McNamara, is a man with so much political influence he’s been called the state’s “Shadow Governor.”  He also happens to be close personal friends with Jim Eaton, head lobbyist for the GEO Group, which might help explain why Scott decided to can the head of the Department of Corrections for challenging the privatization scheme. After news came out that McNamara had been using his influence to advance himself and his friends politically and financially, he was forced to resign. Jim Eaton, by the way, also happens to be the head lobbyist for Wexford, one of the companies in the running for the state healthcare contract.  So McNamara’s influence is likely to last well beyond his tenure as “Shadow Governor.”