Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No Oversight, No Savings, No Accountability

Just a quick link here to an awesome Fortune Magazine article on private prisons, discussing how, aside from the fact that private prisons haven't been proven to save money in operations, they can wind up costing states far more than anticipated in the long run due to the plethora of problems that seem inherent to their operations.  Most noticeably, they hire non-union guards at lower rates and tend to not abide by government regulations on construction or training, so they have facilities of poorer quality than public prisons and guards who are less qualified.  Further, the lack of educational and vocational programming at private prisons tends to increase the rates of recidivism of those leaving, which levies a heavy toll on society as prisoners held in private prisons are more likely to engage in criminal activity after they're released.

On top of the fact that private prisons often wind up costing the towns or states they contract with more than government-run institutions, they rarely are subject to the same sorts of oversight found in government-run prisons.  So while they perform an inherently governmental function, the private prison industry is capable of circumventing the oversight applied to every other government entity.  As the Attorney General of Arizona said, "They don't have to show proof of financial responsibility, they don't have to comply with Arizona prison construction standards, they don't have to report disruptions. . .and both the training and staffing is up to the private operator."  Great!

But this article, and a lot of the recent firestorm in Arizona, really arose over the question of accountability; namely, whose responsibility is it that 3 murderers escaped from a private prison.  Well MTC, the company that operates the prison, has effectively claimed it's not responsible, and politicians in Arizona are all pointing fingers at one another and the DOC over the fact that these murderers were housed in a medium security facility to begin with.  But all that does is ignore the most pressing concern; that private prisons are accountable to their stake/stockholders, and no one else, not the citizens, taxpayers, or even politicans who blindly or unwittingly support them.  The bottom line is that private prison companies can afford to let an inmate or two escape from their prisons, so long as the escapes don't happen frequently enough to threaten the contracts they continue to secure through their political influence.  To quote the AZ Attorney General again, "A private company has an acceptable level of loss. In the case of violent offenders, I don't believe the public does or should tolerate any incidence of failure."  I couldn't agree more.

1 comment:

  1. CCA and Geo Group's connections/membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)is what funded and caused changes in many state laws involving 3 strike, minimum mandatory, mandatory gun and drug laws and truth in sentencing, all of which contribute to increased prison populations in the face of decreasing crime rates over the past 10 years.

    Illegal Immigration has been declining since 2004 - from 1.4 million to 567,000 in '09. This year, with the increased presence of the National Guard, the building of the fence and incorporating drone surveillance, the numbers should decrease even further.

    There was no need for SB1070 due to the diminishing apprehension rates in Arizona. CCA and Geo Group used their membership in ALEC to "model Legislation" that would increase apprehension and detention of illegal aliens. This was needed by CCA and Geo to fill empty beds that the feds pay them $145.00 per diem per detainee.

    CCA, Geo Group and Senator Pearce are all members of ALEC - as are another 36 Arizona lawmakers - and they used this model legislation as the basis for SB1070 almost word for word taken from ALEC's Public Safety & Elections Task Force proposed legislation.

    Now CCA and others are after other states to follow Arizona through proposed legislation mirroring that of SB1070. This is being done by William Gheene of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC ALIPAC, through ALEC's 2000 state lawmaker members circulating the same bill to the individual states.

    For more on this issue and others related to prison industry operations, CCA, PIECP and SB1070 see my blog at: or visit my web site at: