Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shortsighted Solution

Governor John Kasich in Ohio is a big fan of private prisons, depsite the fact that one of the most notorious lawsuits against an industry leader (CCA) arose from major problems at a facility in Youngstown, Ohio. He is so big a fan, in fact, that he hired former CCA employee and consultant Gary Mohr to be his director of corrections.

Governor Kasich recently released his budget, which includes plans to sell 5 of the state's prisons to private companies. However, I can't quite follow the logic. Mr. Mohr says this was preferable to the alternative, which would be shipping more than 10,000 prisoners out of state (I guess releasing non-violent drug offenders is too logical a solution...). He says, "I honestly can't imagine the process of putting inmates on a bus to transfer out of state away from their families because it isn't something that 12,000 inmates would want to do." Well, Mr. Mohr, I'm pretty sure they're not going to like your solution, either.

I'm not going to rehash all my typical arguments about private prisons here, but suffice it to say that their quality of life, security, medical care, and programming is sure to decrease. Further, this decision will have economic impacts on the communities where the prisons are located. The guards at these facilities will either be out of a job, or forced to take a job with a less professional company, with less training and much higher turnover, for nearly $5,000 less in salary, and even more reductions in benefits, per year.

But the real issue here is the lack of programming prisoners are going to recieve. Private prisons are far less likely to offer vocational and technical education services to their prisoners. Additionally, part of Kasich's plan calls for eliminating 3 work camps, which help prepare prisoners to transition back into society upon release. By eliminating state-supported re-entry services and turning to private companies known to neglect them, Governor Kasich is selling Ohio's prisoners and taxpayers short.

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous01 May, 2011

    You have some very good points, however, as Principal( Education Director)I want to say we have some of the best Education/Vocational Programs at least in the state of Georgia where I work. Last year, my facility gave out 128 GEDs. We also have the following vocational classes: Masonry, Plumbing, CDL, Electrical Horticulture,Carpentry and Office Technology. I know private prisons have their pros and cons but please believe that the Education/Vocation Programs is a positive of CCA.

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  2. Thanks for your comment. I am honestly very pleased to hear of the work you're doing, and I think it's wonderful. However, from what I've seen, I don't think the programming offered at your facility is typical of CCA facilities. The most recent figures I could find estimated that only about 60% of privatized prisons offered programming or vocational instruction, whereas more than 90% of government-run facilities do.

    I really do have faith in pretty much all of CCA's employees. I have faith that you honestly want to make your facility a good one, that you care about the people under your supervision. But I don't think that your organizational culture supports that. I believe in the basic decency of people, and I obviously don't think that everyone who works at private prisons are evil. But I do sort of think your bosses are.

    But either way, thank you for the comment, for engaging me and my small audience. I don't hear too often from folks who work within private prisons, and it's a perspective I always appreciate becoming privy to. Please continue to comment on and discuss my rants; your knowledge and experiences can only help to broaden my scope and knowledge of the industry.

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  3. He says, "I honestly can't imagine the process of putting inmates on a bus to transfer out of state away from their families because it isn't something that 12,000 inmates would want to do." Well, Mr. Mohr, I'm pretty sure they're not going to like your solution, either.http://www.gw2.us/
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