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I’ve Been Saying This for Years

8:16 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

I’ve Been Saying This for Years…

 An excellent article in the New York Times from last week discusses how private prisons have failed to deliver on their promises of cost-savings in Arizona. In fact, “privately operated prisons can cost more to operate than state-run prisons — even though they often steer clear of the sickest, costliest inmates.”

Private prisons essentially cherry-pick their prisoners. They take primarily low-level, nonviolent offenders, who cost less to house and maintain. They take mostly younger guys, and force the state to take older prisoners, who are more prone to costly health problems. They also rarely house high-security inmates.

In addition to all this, they cut corners on maintenance, have a horrible track record of denying medical care, and use significantly less staff than government-run institutions (staff costs being among the most expensive components of a prison’s budget). They pay and train their staff less, and offer less benefits, which results in their staff being by and large less qualified and professional than you’d find in a government prisons.

Yet even after all of this, they still don’t save a significant amount of money, and can even cost more to operate than a government-run facility. This study is just the latest of numerous reports that have all found essentially the same thing, going back nearly a decade. But our country’s inability to enact effective sentencing and parole/probation reform to reduce our over-reliance on incarceration has caused governments to continue to perform this failed experiment with privatization. Hopefully, the decision that came down today in Plata v. Schwarzenneger will demonstrate that we cannot just continue to expand our prison population indefinitely.

We Should Never Privatize Public Safety

10:35 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

“We Should Never Privatize Public Safety”

Florida’s legislature just passed a budget that will privatize the correctional services of 18 counties, basically 20% of its prison population. Though the decision has been criticized by both side of the aisle (the quote I used for the title comes from a Republican legislator, Mike Fasano), and despite the fact that private prisons in Florida, as elsewhere, have a long history of abuse and failure to perform up to contract, the deal went through. Senator Fasano described the claims of cost-savings touted by proponents, including budget chief JD Alexander, as “unconvincing and undocumented.” In fact, Alexander at one point even said he himself was not convinced of the savings, but wanted to privatize a huge portion of the state system as part of an “experiment.”

This is unrestrained Republican ideology in its most logical iteration. Governor Ric Scott and many Republicans in the state legislature, especially JD Alexander, received huge contributions from the GEO Group in campaign contributions. The GEO Group has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying the Florida legislature in recent years, building a great relationship with conservative legislators. This is nothing but a ploy to divert taxpayer money to corporations. Republicans promote corporate welfare while eschewing individual and social welfare. They label the poor as “lazy” and bitch about their tax dollars going to social welfare programs, while they turn around and give huge tax cuts to the wealthy and subsidies and contracts to private corporations with histories of abuse and negligence, corporations that donate generously to their campaigns and help keep them in office. This is what they do.

The GEO Group utilized 2 of the top 5, and 3 of the top 10 lobbying firms in Florida during the past election cycle to maximize their influence. They have also donated hundreds of thousands to state campaigns, mostly to conservatives and incumbents. So it should come as no surprise that the state has decided to embark on the most ambitious prison privatization scheme in history.

This is conservative economics. This is the face of a country that allows for unlimited corporate contributions to politicians and campaigns. Republicans literally want to dismantle government and turn over government services to the private sector. They want to perpetuate the grossly unequal distribution of wealth and power in this country, because it serves their purposes and interests at the expense of everyone else’s. And I fear this is only the beginning of what will be a huge wave of anti-government, pro-privatization activity that we’re seeing crop up across the country. But people need to realize that government is not the problem. The government is a tool we can use to fix the problems inflicted on society by corporations and their endless greed.

Despicable

10:34 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Despicable

Quick link here to a heartbreaking story of a kid who was badly assaulted in a riot at the Walnut Grove YCF in Mississippi, resulting in severe brain damage, and his father’s quest to find answers from the GEO Group, who operates the prison. Very poorly, I might add.

This prison has been described as “the deepest depths of hell.” Situations like this beg the question of what do we really want from a criminal justice system. Do we want a system that sells off correctional services to the highest bidder? Do we want a system in which human lives and freedom are nothing but commodities? Can anyone suggest that outsourcing correctional services to a private corporation whose primary and secondary goals are both profit, is a good idea? Can anyone tell me that these children, CHILDREN, deserve to suffer like this?

It’s a shame and it saddens me to know that, of all places, the United States subjects its own citizens to torture like this, all so that some big corporate greedy assholes can make a few bucks. This is beyond despicable. It’s embarrassing. There is absolutely no excuse for our elected leaders to subject people to situations like this.

“Made to Break Your Soul and Handicap You”

10:32 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

“Made to Break Your Soul and Handicap You”

Those are the words used by Pedro Guzman to describe the treatment he received at the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, run by CCA. Guzman, who’s been in this country for 23 years and has a wife and son who are both citizens, was forced into Stewart for over a year and a half on a supposed immigration violation (he was later granted a green card). He described some of the hellacious treatment prisoners receive, amounting to a constant screaming match between COs and the immigrants housed there. He said, “The treatment you get is like you’re an animal. I have two dogs, and I treat my dogs much better than the detainees are treated in there.”