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Private, For-Profit Mental Health Care?

10:21 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Private, For-Profit Mental Health Care?

Scary as it may sound, that’s exactly what is being proposed in North Carolina.  A subsidiary of the GEO Group, GEOCare, is trying to take over mental health services for serious offenders for the entire state of North Carolina, which is also considering privatizing health care for its prisoners.  I’m sure nothing could possibly go wrong if a private company that earns money by keeping people incarcerated longer would be in control of providing rehabilitation services to violent offenders.

But in all seriousness, this is a pretty terrifying proposition to me.  GEO has enough trouble managing normal prison populations, let alone high-risk prisoners.  As the executive director of the NC State Employees Association said, “it just boggles [the] mind that folks think a for-profit private company with shareholders can perform a more efficient, better service at a cheaper rate than state employees.”


Privatization = Government Waste

8:42 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Privatization = Government Waste

Proponents of privatizing government services (i.e. “conservatives”) love to talk about supposed improvements in efficiency and delivery of services the private sector offers compared to the government.  In reality, attempts to privatize government services, including everything from military service to social security, are nothing more than government welfare for wealthy corporate donors and empowered individuals.  Politicians give contracts to companies and individuals who contribute to their campaigns and causes, not to companies who will perform the services in good faith.  The private prison industry is a shining example of this phenomenon.

Which brings me to this article.  I’ll let the author speak for herself: “Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have continued to use troubled detention facilities despite documenting flagrant violations of their own detention standards, including poor medical care and mistreatment of detainees.”

ICE’s own records indicate a litany of areas in which private prison operators have failed to live up to contractual obligations and failed to operate safe, humane facilities.  Yet they continue to get contracts, due in large part to the millions of dollars the industry spends in lobbying and campaign contributions every year.


Challenging Privatization in Arizona

10:36 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Arizona is one of a few states looking to further privatize its prison system despite the industry’s consistently poor performance, after intensive lobbying campaigns convinced the legislature it was a good idea to continue to throw money into this black hole.  The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization, has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the state’s plans to privatize its prison system until it completes a cost/benefit analysis to demonstrate that private prisons can save money, as is mandated by the state constitution.  All available evidence seems to point to the contrary.
The plan is also being challenged on the grounds that the state has failed to perform bi-annual audits of private prisons to compare the efficiency of their services to the government sector.  The state says they are working on a study, to be completed around January 2012, but still plans on just awarding contracts for up to 5,000 additional private prison beds in the meantime.
Unfortunately a judge denied the motion, because AFSC could not prove that their interests would be harmed by the privatization.  Judge Anderson has basically permitted for the DOC to respond to the lawsuit, rather than filing an injunction to prevent the privatization, which is the proper legal avenue to take.  But as Caroline Issacs of AFSC said, “Certainly, the taxpayers are harmed by wasting $650 million.”

The Mighty Political Influence of the Private Prison Industry

9:30 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

The Mighty Political Influence of Private Prisons

I’m not going to go off on a tangent here; I just want to share with you a link to a fantastic article by Bob Ortega of the Arizona Republic.  Mr. Ortega details the tremendous amounts of influence and leverage the private prison industry has cultivated in both state and federal legislatures over the past few decades through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door between the industry and government.  The amount of money donated to politicians is staggering, and greatly helps to explain the continued success of the industry in securing contracts despite performing less efficiently than its government counterparts.

Eff Steve Owen

1:12 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Eff Steve Owen

(Warning: My post today contains strong language. Sorry – I couldn’t help myself. In fact, I think I kept it rather restrained, at least compared to what I’m thinking…)
          Private companies seem to have been quite successful in their lobbying efforts last election. In addition to the hoopla in Florida, Ohio is embarking on an audacious privatization scheme which it hopes will generate millions in revenue to plug a budget shortfall and save money in the long run. They won’t. But Governor Kasich, another anti-government, pro-corporate politician (ignore the hypocrisy in that, if possible), who hired a former CCA employee to be the director of the state’s Department of Corrections, seems hell-bent on getting this deal done. He has undoubtedly been influenced by the more than $40,000 MTC has contributed over the past 2 years, along with the maximum-allowable contributions from both CCA and the GEO Group to his inauguration fund, to think that private prisons can somehow save money or provide more efficient services than the government.
        These notions have been consistently refuted by nearly all available evidence and research not funded by the industry, but that doesn’t stop CCA shill Steve Owen from lying through his goddamn teeth: “We’ve been able to deliver on the value proposition,” Owen said. “Marry that with the oversight and accountability of government, (and you get) the best of both worlds.” Mr. Owen is dead wrong about private prisons being able to deliver “on the value proposition,” as well as about the accountability. Private prisons are exactly that – private, as in companies that aren’t bound by open government/public records laws. Oversight of the industry is notoriously weak and ineffectual, because private prison operators are not held to the same standard as government-run prisons, despite the fact that they perform an inherently governmental function.
        But he wasn’t done there. Mr. Owen also conveniently either forgot his own company’s history or just loves to misrepresent facts (a familiar conservative tactic), because he said “We’re not in the business of public policy. We don’t grow our business by impacting crime and sentencing laws. We grow our business by providing safe, secure facilities.” That’s complete BULLSHIT. The connections between CCA and Arizona’s SB1070 (The “Breathing While Brown” law), and copycat laws across the country, are well-established. What is less well-known is how CCA was also heavily involved in the American Legislative Exchange Council throughout the 90′s, when it successfully passed laws like 3-strikes (you may have heard of that) and “Truth in Sentencing,” both of which have directly contributed to the explosion in our prison population over the last two decades.
         So Mr. Owen, I’m calling you out for being a giant fucking lying asshole. You intentionally lie and deceive politicians and the general public to push a product that benefits absolutely no one but your douchebag self and your company’s stock. You are a disgusting excuse for a human being. You deceive people so that your company can turn a profit by incarcerating, humiliating, and abusing US citizens and immigrants. You literally prey on human misery and suffering, and steadfastly refuse to tell the truth because the truth would hurt your bottom line. You take taxpayer dollars to perform a governmental function, do it less efficiently than the government, with no accountability, then turn that money around into lobbying for longer and harsher sentences to lock up an ever-growing segment of our population. You and your company, and the entire industry, are the absolute lowest of the fucking low, and you make me sad about the future of our country, and indeed the entire human race.
           Thankfully, Matt Lundy and Carlton Weddington (love that name), 2 state senators from Ohio, are challenging the proposal. They have submitted a public records request to release the bids that private prison companies have put in to operate the facilities. Mr. Weddington puts it in great perspective: “I reiterate concerns today over the privatization of five state prisons. The CIIC’s (Correctional Institution Inspection Committee) recent report showing massive overcrowding coupled with the announcement of 950 jobs being lost should raise red flags for the public and the Kasich administration,” Weddingon said. “Our safety and the safety of inmates are at risk. It is simply inexcusable that Gov. Kasich continue to keep the legislature and the public in the dark while our safety and security are at risk.”

Florida’s Private Prison Mess

9:54 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

"House Chamber, Florida State Capitol"

"House Chamber, Florida State Capitol" by StevnM_61 on flickr

Florida’s Prison Privatization Mess

Florida is embarking upon the largest prison privatization plan in history. As part of a last-minute budget amendment, the state legislature mandated the privatization of the correctional services of 18 counties in south Florida, for a total of nearly 30 correctional facilities.

No state has ever undertaken such an ambitious expansion of their private prison system, and for good reason; private prisons consistently fail to live up to contractual obligations, don’t save money,  and provide less efficient services than government-run prisons.

But that hasn’t stopped Florida from forging ahead, even despite the fact that the Senate’s Budget Chief at one point even called this initiative an experiment to see if the state could save money by privatization.  While that’s not a gamble most sane politicians would ever want to make, JD Alexander was probably swayed, as were many other politicians, by the more than ¾ of a million dollars that the GEO Group spent lobbying the state legislature in the last election cycle.

Thankfully, one of Alexander’s fellow Republicans, Mike Fasano, is able to easily identify the root of the deficiencies of private prisons, and has been challenging this plan from the get-go.

“Talk about a dangerous situation for the public! Because, in my opinion, privatizing our prisons, you bring a private company in, all they care about is the bottom line. That’s why they’re a company. That’s why they trade on the New York Stock Exchange, that’s why they trade on any exchange for that matter, they have stockholders, they have board members to be answerable to; therefore, they have to make a profit and by doing that, in my opinion, you put people at risk.”

(The article cited here goes into a lot more detail on the lack of oversight and transparency of the industry, which in turn results in a breakdown of accountability) Read the rest of this entry →