Monday, May 24, 2010

Biased Information

Ken Kopczysnki, of the Private Corrections Institute, a fantastic nonprofit watchdog of the private prison industry (go to their site - there's a link to the left!), has called into question the neutrality and accuracy of the information contained in a recent report by the Reason Foundation and Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) that called for increased privatization of California prisons.  CCA has contributed heavily to the campaign of a politican supported by the HJTA, and hundreds of thousands more to California politicians and PACs.  Additionally, CCA and GEO give tons of money to the American Correctional Association, a private entity that accredits prisons and jails, which provided information on how much California pays to house its prisoners.  Mr. Kopczynski then goes on to detail a ton of misleading "findings" from the report, including issues such as the costs associated with housing prisoners, medical care costs, and comparisons between public and private prisons.  The Reason study is based partially on information known to be erroneous or biased, including a report performed by a professor found to have been paid more than $3 million by CCA, and notably excludes prominent research on how private prisons can be more expensive to operate, and information on the abuses and violations that take place within private facilities.

Basically, my point is; be careful of your sources of information.  An author for a financial magazine recently wrote a huge article espousing all the great aspects of privatization, based largely on this report (found here), and many others have already cited this report in discussing how privatization can benefit their communities.  Please, take this report with more than a grain of salt (as you should with most things in life), and consider the source whenever you hear someone spout off about how great private prisons are.

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