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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.

Is Michigan Going Back on Its Word?

9:22 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

The state of Michigan for some reason thinks it should contract out high-security beds to a private company, expecting to save about $1.3 million per year in operations. Aside from the reality that those savings will probably never materialize, the state should be wary of proceeding with such a plan considering the industry’s consistent failures to maintain adequate levels of well-trained staff, which could prove extremely risky with high-security prisoners.  A few years back, corrections officials had promised residents that security of the facility would be the top priority, as residents were worried about the potential risks to public safety inherent in bringing in a private, for-profit company to operate it.

Over the next few years, the state gradually reduced security at the facility, moving away from constant patrols to more mechanical security instruments.  Now, it wants to not only privatize security staff at the facility, but medical and mental health treatment as well.  Local leaders are upset at these recent developments, particularly because they have seen how privatization has failed to save money in many other states. Many of the COs currently employed at the facility would likely either lose their jobs or face significant reductions in pay and benefits, the area in which private prison companies are able to reduce expenses most easily (by just cutting them).

So add me to the list of people who hope the state decides to keep to its word and ensure the facility remains secure (i.e. not privatized).

Another Wrongful Death Suit Against CCA

12:59 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

 

The ACLU of Hawaii has filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the family of Clifford Medina, a 23-year-old Hawaiian prisoner who was murdered in the Saguaro Correctional Center, a CCA prison in Arizona.  The lawsuit contends that the company’s negligence and drive for profit led to Medina’s murder by a fellow prisoner.  This murder was one of two in a very short time frame at the facility, and one of a few issues that led the Governor of Hawaii to pledge to return all his prisoners to the islands, including an alleged sexual assault by a staff member at this same prison.

The lawsuit has already been covered by a ton of media outlets, so I won’t go into a detailed breakdown.  Suffice it to say, I effing hate CCA.  I’ll just give you links

KVOA News in Tucson, AZ
KITV News in Honolulu
Hawaii Reporter
Hawaii News Now
Nashville Scene
Courthouse News Service

Private Prison Riots Causing Concern

12:58 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA
The recent riots (or “disturbances,” in industry parlance) at CCA prisons in Georgia and Mississippi have raised the concern of advocates in other states looking to privatize prisons.  The teamsters union down in Florida is urging state lawmakers to consider CCA’s poor management of the facilities when it inevitably takes up the now annually-recurring massive privatization effort.  Information about the cause of the riot has been slow to trickle out of the facility in Mississippi, but it looks at least preliminarily like my intuition was correct.  Prisoners claim the guards routinely assault them; and that the medical care, food, and programming at the facility, which houses immigrants in the US illegally, were woefully insufficient. Even the Nashville Business Journal picked up on the story, albeit it to discuss how CCA can save face.

The recent riots (or “disturbances,” in industry parlance) at CCA prisons in Georgia and Mississippi have raised the concern of advocates in other states looking to privatize prisons.  The teamsters union down in Florida is urging state lawmakers to consider CCA’s poor management of the facilities when it inevitably takes up the now annually-recurring massive privatization effort.  Information about the cause of the riot has been slow to trickle out of the facility in Mississippi, but it looks at least preliminarily like my intuition was correct.  Prisoners claim the guards routinely assault them; and that the medical care, food, and programming at the facility, which houses immigrants in the US illegally, were woefully insufficient. Even the Nashville Business Journal picked up on the story, albeit it to discuss how CCA can save face.

Florida’s Private Prisons CorruptionFest 2012

2:43 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

(photo: jeffreyputman, flickr)

(photo: jeffreyputman, flickr)

Florida’s Private Prisons CorruptionFest 2012!

I’ll spare everyone a summary of what’s been happening in the Florida legislature over the past two sessions (see here, here, and here, or just search for “Florida” to catch up); instead, I’ll just try to continue to update what I’d like to call CorruptionFest 2012.  Again, I apologize in advance for the plethora of links to follow, but the news is coming so fast that I can’t keep up any other way.

First comes an article written by a state Senator, Paula Dockery, who calls out her fellow senators for the false promises of savings and the absurd fast-tracking of the bill, which for some reason never found its way to the legislative committee that oversees corrections.  No, it just went before 2 different committees headed up by JD Alexander, who has been pushing this privatization effort for years.  Alexander has been telling anyone who will listen that the plan will save $22 million for the state, but he has never actually backed those numbers up with evidence.

As a reporter with the Orlando Sentinel noted, such “savings” can be particularly hard to calculate, especially given the industry-friendly contract terms that keep the most expensive prisoners in state facilities and leave the privates to handle the cheap, low-risk prisoners.  Many experts who have studied the industry (and who weren’t funded by the industry in their research), have found savings from private prisons to be negligible at best; and considering the state would even leave some of the more high-risk prisoners in private facilities (which is a stupid idea in its own right), Florida’s taxpayers would likely not save much, if anything, in this process.

In response to the fast-tracking of the legislation through committees that should have no say in corrections policy, the Florida Nurses Association has sued the state over the secrecy of the plan that could cost thousands of state employees their jobs.  They were followed by a coalition of 17 other organizations opposed to the privatization, who petitioned the effort’s champion, Mike Haridopolous.  Then the Correctional Officers’ Union called for the state to conduct an honest cost-benefit analysis, after their initial review found that this privatization could cost Florida taxpayers MORE THAN 120 MILLION FRIGGING DOLLARS. Read the rest of this entry →

CCA Gets Off Really Easy in Hernando County, FL

2:48 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

CCA Gets off Really Easy in Hernando County, FL

Florida, as you know if you’ve heard anything about private prisons in the past month, is in the midst of a huge, subversive campaign to force private prisons on its residents, despite widespread opposition.  The state should take a look at the situation in Hernando County for an example of the things that can all go terribly wrong when a prison is privatized.

After operating the local jail there for 22 years, CCA was found to haveignored myriad maintenance issues totaling millions of dollars.  The sheriff took over the facility after CCA bailed on the contract rather than repair the facility, which they had been operating since it opened.  After taking over the facility, he saved local taxpayers more than a million dollars in operating costs in the first year, even after taking into account all the maintenance that needed to be done.

So after the government assumed responsibility for its jail and trimmed its expenses by more than a million dollars, there was still the issue of back-pay that the county had withheld from CCA to cover the maintenance they had consistently failed to perform.  The dispute was over $1.8 million worth of payments; CCA sued the county to try to recoup the money they shouldn’t have gotten in the first place.  Unfortunately for Hernando County, CCA’s well-paid attorneys did their job quite effectively, and CCA has been ordered to pay only $100,000 of the money owed to the county.  In other words, 5%.  And, even more unfortunately, this precludes the county from releasing an accounting of just how CCA could have let millions of dollars worth of maintenance needs go unchecked.  But, according to the editorial board at the Tampa Bay Times, “ending the privatization of the jail will produce long-term dividends for the citizens of Hernando County.”

Private Prisons Don’t Save Money in Arizona

9:21 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

(image: publik15, flickr)

(image: publik15, flickr)

Private Prisons Don’t Save Money in Arizona

Arizona sure loves it some privatization.  Facing extreme budget shortfalls, the state attempted to sell off and then re-lease its state house in 2009 to earn some extra money, along with privatizing its entire prison system.  But while that plan failed, the state’s thirst for privatization never waned.  Though it already had multiple private prisons holding prisoners from other states and the federal government, a prominent republican in the state legislature introduced and helped pass SB1070, the now-infamous “Breathing While Brown” law.  This law, as pointed out in an investigative report by NPR, was written by ALEC, a conservative legislation front group that has longed worked with the major players in the private prison industry and promoted privatization across the board.  They’re also the ones behind attacks on global warming, voting rights, and unions, but that’s a different story.

So, the state basically gave a handout to private prison operators, who would undoubtedly benefit from stronger enforcement of federal immigration laws and increased detention.  This came after the industry donated heavily in the 2010 election cycle, to candidates, political parties, and ballot initiatives favored by republicans.  Then, even after 3 prisoners escaped from a private prison found to have numerous security deficiencies and went on a murderous rampage, state officials still pushed for more private prisons.  They re-initiated a request for proposals from private companies to construct 5,000 prison beds.

Thankfully, people began to take notice.  An advocacy organization filed alawsuit trying to block the RFP, which was dismissed on a technicality.  But the substantive issue in the lawsuit wasn’t resolved; namely, that the state, by law, is required to conduct performance audits of its existing private facilities every two years, including cost-comparisons with public institutions.  So the state began its audit late last year to compare public and private prisons, and the request for proposals was put on hold until the state could evaluate whether or not it would save money by turning to for-profit incarceration. Read the rest of this entry →

More Issues in Australia

2:41 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

More Issues in Australia

Unfortunately, the US is not alone in its blind pursuit of privatization at all costs; Australia is one of a few other countries that also permits for private, for-profit companies to house its prisoners.  As in the US, these private prisons suffer from a litany of problems of mismanagement and cost-cutting.

The Australian Government recently deployed an advisory group to report on the state of mental health care for immigrant detainees in private prisons.  The chairwoman of the group reported that the private prison system in the country is dysfunctional, and incapable of meeting the mental health needs of the immigrants housed there.  In fact, the system is so bad that some employees carry knives to cut down prisoners who try to hang themselves, because it’s apparently a rather common phenomenon.

However, unlike the US, Australia’s government actually tries to hold these companies accountable for the lives they destroy.  Serco, which operates most of the country’s private immigration detention system, has been fined $15 million for its failure to adequately care for the prisoners in its facilities.  This is a pretty significant fine for a company that earns more than $370 million per year in revenue to operate the facilities.

What CCA’s Q2 Earnings Mean

6:34 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Cash Cash Cash! (Photo: athrasher, flickr)

Cash Cash Cash! (Photo: athrasher, flickr)

What CCA’s Q2 Earnings Mean

Another piece from a guest author, Elaine Hirsch:

(Elaine Hirsch is a kind of jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and video games.  This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for an online doctorate blog.)

A few weeks ago, Mike covered the $42.4 million in profits that CCA announced as part of its Q2 earnings report.  It doesn’t take an online doctorate to figure out that profit equals revenues minus costs, and whitout any significant spike int he supply for prison needs, this article will look at how CCA reaped profits by cutting costs in the recent months.

According to the company’s earnings call, headed by CEO Damon Hininger and CFO Todd Mullenfer, one of their main focuses has been on cutting costs in operations.  Citing a company-wide initiative in 2009 aimed at driving greater efficiencies, Hininger admitted that CCA gave merit increases to employees last month, causing a dent in their bottom line.  It seems counter-intuitive that a CEO would apologize for pay raises (especially merit-based ones!), because such raises are essentially investments into employees.  Given that statement, it seems as if CCA values its employees as little as the prisoners they manage, a terrible way to run a company. Read the rest of this entry →

Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

7:56 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Horse

Horse by anemoneprojectors

Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

Ohio is currently in the process of trying to sell 5 state prisons to private operators to raise money during the recession.  As I reported on before, the deal isn’t nearly as beneficial for the state and its taxpayers as it was initially said to be. So any hopes Ohio’s taxpayers have of saving money on corrections through privatization should be tempered, especially because private prisons have often been found to not even save any significant amount of money in operations, compared to government-run prisons.

So private prisons don’t save money.  Private prisons also consistently have higher rates of escapes, assaults, and violence at their facilities, and they cut corners in every area of operations.  So really the state of Ohio should listen to CCA spokesman Steve Owen, who says “If we don’t operate safe, secure facilities, and we don’t provide the cost savings that are expected, there’s no reason for government to continue to partner with our industry.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I think Ohio should heed his words, especially in light of the state’s turbulent history with private prisons.  In addition to one of the biggest lawsuits to slam the industry during the 90′s, the result of a riot at a Youngstown prison operated by CCA, the state has had numerous escapes and murders at other private prisons.  And in a rather blatant handout to the industry, the state of Ohio is even going to pay to help train the guards at the private prisons.  On the one hand, this is good because guards at private prisons rarely if ever receive as much training as they need, but this is something that should really be paid for by the companies who buy the prisons and want to assume responsibility for operating them.