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).
So before I go off on a tangent here, I apologize for the litany of links to come. But the situation in Florida has quickly spiraled out of control and, seeing as I’m already weeks late on reporting this, I wanted to try to put together as much info here as possible. Enjoy!
A really interesting story came out of New Mexico last week that really speaks to the great benefit the industry enjoys in having former (and potentially future) employees working in government. I have often complained of the political and contractual favoritism shown to the industry by former employees, but this one really struck me.
And the fines could not have come at a more appropriate time. Because a prisoner in a GEO Group facility in Clayton, New Mexico, was just beaten to within an inch of his life and is now on life support following the vicious assault.
Though I rarely touch on international private prison news, two recent stories from our friends across the pond caught my attention recently. The first is an article from The Guardian discussing the proposed privatization of nine prisons in England, which the author concludes would work out very well for any corporation that wins the contract but not so well for prisoners who end up housed in a private facility. Research cited by the author has shown that private prisons present a much higher risk to the safety of prisoners, staff, and the general public. Private prisons in the UK has seen some of the same problems as the industry experiences here in the US; “green” staff, with little training and a high rate of turnover, which results in higher levels of violence and decreased security. Likewise, the industry falls victim to the profit motive, as private prison operators continually cut costs at the expense of prisoner rehabilitation and care.
England is facing a crisis of incarceration similar to, but on a much smaller scale than our own, driven by things like mandatory minimum sentences and 3-strikes laws, which has prompted lawmakers to seek ways to cut the prison population or at least make it more manageable. Unfortunately, they seem to be taking a page out of our manual in dealing with the crisis, focusing more on increasing capacity by outsourcing services to private companies than on smart and efficient legislative and policy initiatives designed to reduce the prison population.
The second is an article that uncovers an “eye-watering scandal;” namely, that the competitive bidding process currently underway to operate 5 facilities is rigged in favor of the private companies. Stipulations were introduced by the government late into the process that rendered bids from public entities non-competitive, and the private industry has basically been handed a cakewalk of a bidding process. It’s a clear handout to the industry, and as the assistant secretary general of the probation union said, “Prison Privatisation is no longer based on efficiency, it’s now ideological.”
Forgive me for making light of the situation in the title, but two CCA officers are currently facing charges of rape in separate incidents.
In Florida, a guard is on trial for allegedly raping a fellow employee who was suffering an asthma attack. Meanwhile, over in New Mexico, a trial against a corrections officer who has admitted to raping 4 women under his watch at the Camino Nuevo Women’s CF in 2007 has been delayed as CCA tries to buy more time to mount a defense.
Once again, these shining examples of private prison professionalism give us a glimpse into what happens when profit is a higher priority than providing quality service
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