Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ohio's Governor is an Idiot

Ohio Governor John Kasich is yet another cookie-cutter republican looking to defund and cripple unions, slash taxes for the wealthy, and turn over government functions to his cronies in the private sector. No news there. However, I was not aware that he is also apparently incapable of thinking rationally about his budget.

Kasich has proposed cutting more than $30 million from his department of corrections budget for this year, the largest cut the department will have ever taken in its history if enacted. He plans to do this primarily by privatizing more of the state's prison system. So aside from the fact that privatization doesn't actually save any money compared to government operation of a prison, he uses some odd logic to justify his cuts.

"By transitioning to a blended public and private corrections system, officials hope to cover the budget gap, decrease the increasing violence in the system and stabilize both funding and the violence."

Well guess what, Mr. Kasich, you're absolutely, in no way shape or form, going to wind up with lower levels of violence by handing control of your system to an industry notorious for inefficient management and poor training of its staff. Any unfortunate Ohio prisoner who gets transferred to a private facility will merely become a commodity to the industry, and will most certainly face crueler conditions and less constructive activities (remember, idle hands are the devil's playthings).

Thankfully, though, not all of Mr. Kasich's constituents are as simple-minded as he. A veteran CO took the mic at a recent news conference and caused a mild uproar when he began questioning the motives behind the move, especially in light of the fact that Gary Mohr, Kasich's new secretary of corrections, used to be employed by CCA, and the generous campaign contributions CCA made to Kasich's campaign. The CO, Bob White, "was escorted out of the building by fellow correctional employees after swearing during a third visit to the microphone. But he left to a standing ovation from part of the crowd, several who shouted in agreement that they were as angry as he was."

I'd have been yelling right there with you. Thank you Bob White for having some sense, and the huevos to stand up for what's right.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More Favorable Treatment for the Industry

Short one here. Oklahoma has eliminated more than $5 million in funding from a program that helped prisoners learn farming and cooking skills, which obviously help in the transition back into society. They had to cut these funds in order to make up for shortfalls in "contract beds." What that means is that, instead of reducing payments to private prison operators or reducing the amount of prisoners sent to one of the state's 6 private facilities through a variety of mechanisms, the governor decided to cut a program that not only is a wise investment, long-term, for the state, but one that helps literally thousands of men prepare to return to society, AND saves money by having prisoners grow their own food.

Yet another short-sighted solution to a major problem caused by corporate greed. And a solution that really only amounts to continuing to hand taxpayer dollars to inefficient and unaccountable corporations, while screwing over individual citizens. Republicans hate Americans and just love corporations. I think I need to stop now before I have an aneurysm. See you all tomorrow.

Republicans Just Hate Working Americans

The 2 chambers of Florida's legislative body just released budget proposals which amount to direct attacks on workers and handouts to private corporations. The Senate's budget calls for giving 18 counties permission to privatize their jails, an idea that was shot down by the chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, but SHOVED IN THE DAMN BUDGET ANYWAY.

JD Alexander, who made waves 2 years ago by trying to, what else, shove in a last-minute budget amendment that was roundly panned, was the architect of the plan. In 2009, Mr. Alexander's budget proposal would have forced the closure of 3 state-run prisons in order to send prisoners to a GEO facility that was built on speculation and never needed. However, GEO gave tons of money to Alexander and the state's republicans, so he was indebted to them and literally tried to force the state to give prisoners to a private company when there was no legitimate need for it. Thankfully, that propsal was shot down and he got a lot of heat for trying to essentially do the same thing that landed the former speaker, Ray Sansom, in hot water.

It looks like Alexander is at it again. This move could shift literally hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations, and cost thousands of COs in Florida their jobs. Alexander, quoting industry statistics, believes this move could save 7%, but anyone without a biased perception of the industry knows the cost-savings promised rarely materialize.

Of course, instead of raising taxes on the wealthy, Alexander wants to give massive government handouts to his corporate friends. GEO's healthcare arm alone has given more than $125,000 to Florida politicians in just the last 2 years, so it's no surprise that they have found such favor in the legislature. But this budget doesn't stop there; no, it also includes drastic cuts to medicaid and government employees' benefits, similar to proposals like the one in Wisconsin. Long-time readers will be interested to know that ALEC is largely behind these attacks on public workers and the talks to move towards greater privatization, which should come as no surprise.

-Side note, the professor who wrote that blog post outing ALEC for being behind these attacks on public workers has come under fire from republicans all across the country, who are trying to harass him with FOIA requests and intimidation. Kinda scary. Professor Cronon, WhyIHateCCA stands with you, though I'll probably get FOIAed for writing that. Keep up the good work!

Republicans are literally waging war on working Americans. It's so frigging maddening that people elected these pro-business hacks. Fuck you JD Alexander, and all you scummy politicians looking to eliminate social welfare for the sake of corporate handouts.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thank You, NPR

NPR has recently come out with an excellent 2-part report on the private prison industry and its shady dealings, starting with the Walnut Grove Youth CF in Mississippi, which is the target of an ACLU lawsuit. The title link goes to the first part of this fantastic investigation, which as NPR describes it, "found that allegations swirling around the prison raise the fundamental question of whether profits have distorted the mission of rehabilitating young inmates." I think I know the answer to that fundamental question...

The second part of the investigation, linked here, delves into the issue of empty private prison beds. Private prisons are so popular largely because of their promises to bring economic prosperity in the form of taxes and new jobs, to various disparaged areas. Unfortunately, as many towns including Hardin, Montana have discovered, those promises don't always pan out. In fact, there are thousands of empty private prison beds around the country, and a good number of private prisons have never even been opened. This is a serious issue because these prisons are often financed by the towns, who then are incapable of repaying the debt they incur when the facility goes unfilled.

Thank you, NPR, for bringing some much-needed attention to these issues

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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'm Speechless

I know, you're stunned, right? But really, I don't even know where to begin with this link. Apparently, Michigan has passed a law permitting for the privatization of police services.

I wish I was making that up.

I just feel more and more often that conservatives want to move us back to a feudal economy, where corporations rule our daily lives and people are too poorly educated and malnourished to help themselves.

Contributions Paid Off

The Republican governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, recently released his budget which includes severe cuts to higher education and a state healthcare system. However, his budget found room to continue to pay $30 million per year to CCA to operate one prison.

But this should come as no surprise. Damon Hininger remarked during a conference call with investors last year that CCA's future operation of the prison was far from certain. So CCA got their checkbooks out. They donated $2,000 to Haslam's campaign directly (in addition to the oodles they gave the Republican Governor's association, which he undoubtedly got a cut from). CCA then upped the ante by donating another $7,500 to inauguration day fesitivities for Haslam.

Then the governor decided not to cut their budget at all, while sacrificing higher education and healthcare. He also is going to release thousands of prisoners early, which means the corrections budget clearly was in need of a cut. What a huge surprise!

I think it's pretty clear at this point that Republicans care only for corporations, and couldn't give a hoot about American citizens. This is just yet another example of corporate interests and profitability taking precedent over important social welfare programs. Republicans literally want to destroy the middle class as we know it and return the workers of this country to indentured servitude. They defund and dismantle democratic party contributors (unions), they take money from education and social welfare programs, making people sicker and dumber (thereby less likely and able to revolt), and they continue to peddle out taxpayer dollars to corporations with little accountability. Republicans are absolutely nothing but a party designed to promote and legalize corporate interests.

This massive push in public discourse for more privatization and less government is nothing less than an assault on the very values that made this country great, perpetrated by corporations who stand to profit from such a perception.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Excellent Piece on ICE and Immigration

I'll just let this wonderfully-crafted sentence from author Andrea Black speak for itself:

"While touted as a major step toward reform, the federal government's prioritization of building new detention beds, its focus on imprisoning people who pose no threat to public safety, and its continuing partnership with The GEO Group, which has a notorious track record of civil and human rights violations, raise serious doubts about the Obama administration's commitment to overhauling a decidedly broken immigration detention system."


Conflict of Interest? I'd Say So.

Matt Lundy, a state representative from Ohio who has provided a solid voice of reason and healthy doses of skepticism in the recent discussions regarding privatizing more of the state's prison system, is keeping up his good work. Recently, Mr. Lundy pointed out that the new director of the state DOC, Gary Mohr, could potentially face a conflict of interest in the selling process, considering he used to work for CCA.

Mr. Lundy has called for the Ohio legislature to set ground rules for conflicts of interest of this type and scale. Thankfully, Mr. Mohr has already recused himself from direct oversight of the proposed sale, though his official responsibilities toward it remain murky.

Of course, some other jerk politician (Carlo LoParo) in the legislature called Mr. Lundy's request for rules regarding conflicts of interest "playing politics." In fact, Mr. LoParo, this is pretty much the exact opposite. Mr. Lundy merely wants to ensure that Mr. Mohr is not abusing his political position due to his former association with a company that could become involved in a multiple-hundred million dollar transaction with the state. That's not "playing politics." It's called being a responsible and accountable elected official. You should look into that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Waking Up?

The link here is a few days old, but I wanted to put it up because it's one of the few stories I've seen recently about private prisons that isn't completely disheartening. It's an opinion piece from a former police officer and employee of a private security firm from Florida on why Governor Ric Scott is wrong to want to further privatize his state's correctional system. The article very simply lays out a lot of the issues concerning private prisons, such as staffing, lobbying for harsher criminal sanctions, and a lack of oversight.

And while all those things are bad, Mr. Frank really gets the to crux of the issue. He says: "The real danger is in human rights abuse," and that's the truth. For all the shady business practices and cost-cutting of the private prison industry, the real victims of private prisons are the folks unfortunate enough to find themselves housed in one.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Conservative Economics Don't Help in Economic Crises

So I suppose I'm branching out a bit here and going beyond my traditional scope of prison privatization. But the recent budget proposal introduced by Ohio Governor John Kasich is a massive conservative failure that I think warrants attention.

Ohio is facing an $8 billion budget shortfall. Now, most economists will tell you that there are two ways to make up for such a shortfall; raise taxes and/or reduce spending. Liberals tend to favor the former, conservatives the latter. We already have historically low tax rates on the wealthy in this country, but apparently that's not enough for Governor Kasich.

He wants to cut taxes even further, which will result in an even greater financial shortfall by reducing state revenues (to the tune of an extra $420 frigging million). To make up for this and the budget crunch, he is now looking to privatize even more of the state's prison system, which should come as no surprise considering he hired a former CCA employee to be his secretary of corrections. He also wants to sell off parts of state parks to oil companies and cut medicaid.

These are all foolish proposals which will cost the state MORE in the long term. These aren't budget solutions, they're stopgap measures designed very specifically to continue America's trend of corporate welfare while screwing over the majority of the citizenry. Ohioans will lose their state parks to oil and gas interests. Ohio's prisoners will be subject to cruel conditions and lose out on valuable programming and rehabilitation services, which will likely increase recidivism. Kasich also wants to privatize the state lottery, despite the fact that their neighbor, Illinois, did so only to see the private company who overtook it be ambushed with lawsuits. For christ's sake, the man wants to privatize the state turnpike system and defund unions. If this isn't an attack on Ohio's middle and working classes, I don't know what is.

Where will this insanity end? Let's cut the crap. Eliminating social services and privatizing government operations is not efficient, and it does not serve the interests of the American public. Private companies are no more efficient, accountable, or transparent than the government, period. In fact, many who study corporate practices and policies realize that corporations care only about the bottom line, and nothing else. Privatization serves the interests of the wealthy, not the people. It does not make government more efficient.

Business interests do not align with the interests of the middle class or the poor. Any members of the middle class who think privatization will help them are either willfully deceived, or just plain ignorant. Business owners have absolutely nothing in common with the interests of working Americans. I am both angered and saddened at the recent wave of pro-privatization rhetoric sweeping the nation, and I hope for the sake of this country that we wake up and realize that a corporate welfare state is not a healthy one.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Damnit, Hawaii

Despite Governor Abercrombie's promise to bring all Hawaiian prisoners back to the mainland from the private prisons they're currently housed in, such a feat may not be possible. Turns out Hawaii doesn't really have the capacity to house those couple thousand guys. So they're seeking bids to house them in private prisons. Thankfully, they're at least looking to have a company build or operate one in Hawaii, which is good for prisoners to maintain connections with their families. But I still can't support housing them in private prisons.

Cutting Corners

CCA operated the jail in Hernando County, Florida, for about 22 years, from the time it was opened. Last year, Sheriff Richard Nugent took over operations of the jail from CCA, because his department could run it cheaper and more humanely. Once that process was initiated, Nugent inspected the jail to see what he was getting himself into.

Nugent's inspection uncovered myriad maintenance issues at the jail. CCA had been negligent in maintaining common areas, the kitchen, heating and ventilation systems, and security systems. Nugent estimated the facility had fallen into such disrepair over CCA's tenure that it would require nearly $2 million just to account for CCA's decades of negligence.

After some back-and-forth fighting, the county decided to withhold its final 2 payments to CCA (which CCA tried suing them for) to put towards the repairs. The county commission then granted another million dollars for repairs, bringing the total amount the county has had to put into maintenance at its jail to $3 million.

It turns out that even this wasn't enough. A consultant just notified the commission that "the needs at the facility are far greater than the money allotted." In fact, the jail has deteriorated so much "a facility that should have lasted 75 years might only make it to 25."

I often remark that governments that contract with private prison companies get what they pay for. In this case, Hernando County may not have even been that lucky.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cost of Doing Business

Anticipating one of the most business-friendly legislative enviroments pretty much anywhere in this country since the era of the robber barons, businesses in Florida have contributed significantly to politicians, even after the elections. Of course, most of this money has gone to Republicans, who control both chambers of the legislature by a wide margin and the governor's mansion.

So of course the GEO Group, which is based in Boca Raton, couldn't be left out of this spending spree. In fact, they spent more than $80,000 in just the last 2 months of 2010 on political donations to individuals, parties, and PACs favorable to privatizing state services. This money should serve them well (unfortunately), as Governor Ric Scott has already proposed privatizing more of the state's prison system.


Major Problems, Major Donations

Quick one here - just a link to the second part of a great expose put together by a local TV station in Idaho on CCA's terrible track record and generous campaign contributions. Their investigation found "complaints against C.C.A. in all 19 states they operate, all within the past decade, involving much more than just medical care." Which is basically what I've found as well.

The article goes on to describe how CCA has contributed nearly $20,000 to the governor of Idaho, even though only about 3% of their population is housed there, in the Idaho Correctional Center. What often remains unspoken about these donations is that contributions from the private prison industry are far more effective than even your standard lobbying dollars. That's because there is no counter-lobby, and no government agency working against private prisons' interests. For every dollar an oil company spends on lobbying, for example, counter-lobbies comprised of progressives and government agencies like the EPA use their influence against big oil's interests. No lobby works on behalf of prisoners. No organization lobbies to have less private prisons (except really the COs union in California). So not only do CCA, GEO, and the others spend great sums of money lobbying; every penny they spend is especially effective because there is really no counter-argument.

You probably remember that the ACLU is suing CCA for running the ICC as a "gladiator school," where prisoners were encouraged to fight, then denied medical care following assaults to both save money and to try to hide evidence of the assaults. ICC is a terrible place, one of the more violent prisons in this country. Hopefully the lawsuit by the ACLU will prompt major changes at the facility and in the way CCA operates (or fails to).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What a Swell Guy

Mark Ciavarella, the former judge from Luzerne County, PA who was convicted of sending undeserving children into prison for kickbacks from a private prison builder, is back in the news. Now, he has submitted a motion to the court seeking to toss out his conviction and get a new trial. I'm not in the least bit surprised that this happened, considering Mr. Ciavarella has a bit of a history with manipulating the law to his benefit. Hopefully, he will fail miserably in this attempt to overturn the convictions. If not, I might just lose all faith in our criminal justice system.

Staying True to His Word, Unfortunately

John Kasich, the new governor of Ohio, has made it clear he intends to privatize more of his state's prison system. Kasich claims to be doing this in order to save money, but a simple review of research on private prisons will uncover numerous reports that dispute the claims of cost-savings by the industry. Anyway, he seemed to be taking one step closer to expanding the reach of private prisons when he hired a former CCA consultant and employee as his secretary of corrections.

So it comes as no surprise that a state Senator recently made remarks hinting at the state reopening a former juvenile facility as a private adult prison. In this case, I will refrain from voicing my standard complaints about the industry to highlight an important detail about privatization that is relevant to the current news about collective bargaining in the midwest (Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio, in particular).

Mike Huffman, president of the Mid-Ohio AFL-CIO made some pointed remarks about the private industry, and how they don't hire union employees: "The down side is privatization. ... It'd be nice to have the prison back open just for jobs, but at the same time we're struggling to keep collective bargaining." His point is really that this is yet another move by a state government to disperse power and resources from the government to the private sector, often at the expense of the working class(Private prisons don't hire unionized guards). Unions have historically provided a very important service for labor in this country, and recent attempts to strip unions of collective bargaining rights signify a dangerous trend. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, even jokingly admitted in a phone call to a man he believed was one of the Koch brothers that he thought Wisconsin was the first battle in a war against collective bargaining.

This tide of anti-government rhetoric sweeping the nation certainly has merit in that it seeks to address the inefficiencies of government. However, the solution is not simply to eliminate government or pare it back to its most basic form. That will only lead to greater ineffectiveness in combating some of the most dangerous elements of our society, namely wall street, big oil, global warming deniers, and home-grown religious fanatics. Yes, governments need to be more efficient and accountable. But the notion that private industry fits either of those definitions, or that it would if just given the chance to regulate itself via the wondrous "free market," is just outright absurd.

Private industry is no more moral, accountable, transparent, or efficient than the government. In fact, a democratic government is theoretically the citizenry's best weapon against corporate excess, which, let's face it, isn't good for the majority of Americans.

Finally, and I'll leave on this little tidbit, regular readers might be interested to know that ALEC is largely behind the attack on collective bargaining. Yes, the super right-wing, corporate-sponsored legislation promoting whore of a nonprofit, ALEC. The attacks on collective bargaining, and governments looking to privatize more services, have nothing to do with fixing budgets. It is all part of a coordinated hoax being perpetrated on this country by some of the wealthiest and most influential leaders of business. It's all about lining their pockets. Nothing more, and nothing less.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jindal Slap-Down

I'm going to keep this one brief. Linked is an excellent opinion piece from a college freshman from Louisiana named Macy Linton. Macy is upset at governor Bobby Jindal's recent proposal to privatize much of the state prison system, despite the state's moratorium on using private prisons. These sorts of proposals are springing up all over the country in response to the fiscal crisis states are currently facing. Or the hoax of a fiscal crisis that's being perpetrated by the republican party to defund and neuter the democratic voter base, however you like to see it...

Anyhoo, instead of trying to reiterate what she said, I'll let her powerful words speak for themselves (and hopefully, the entire state of Louisiana):

"Whether the numbers turn in our favor or not, privatization of prisons shouldn't be an option.

Compromising Louisiana's ethics is not the solution to fixing our money problems."

Right on Macy!

A Poor Investment

I often gripe about how poor the quality of medical care is at private prisons. These facilities are notoriously understaffed and hired less-qualified individuals than government facilities, which in the medical arena translates to substandard care. What makes this phenomenon even worse is that private prisons often are able to essentially "cherry-pick" their populations per the contracts they sign. What I mean is that private prisons sign contracts to house primarily low- and medium-security level offenders, and often take only younger, healthier prisoners than the average.

State systems tend to have prisoners who are older, who have chronic illnesses, and who generally cost more to house and care for. So I was kind of surprised to learn that a lot of pregnant prisoners from marion County, Indiana were being housed in a private jail. The care at this particular facility was so delporable that one young woman died after suffering an emergency and never receiving medical attention.

Thankfully, this spurred some action from the Marion County Sheriff, the government official technically in charge of the contract with CEC, the company that runs the jail. Sheriff John Layton "pulled all pregnant inmates into the Marion County Jail; increased county supervision and control over Liberty Hall and the privately run Marion County Jail II; and ordered external evaluations of the facilities to be conducted by former sheriffs Frank Anderson and Jack Cottey."

It's a shame that it took the death of a 27-year-old woman to encourage an evaluation of care at the jail. CEC is the same company who runs a jail in Delaware County, PA that has wrongly released at least 6 prisoners over the past year due to poor record-keeping (or so they say).

So for as much as proponents of privatization love the "cost-savings" provided by the industry, in this case, as in many others, those savings come at a very real and often incalculable cost of human suffering.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Perverse Legal Tactics

Correctional Medical Services (CMS) is a private, for-profit healthcare provider that works in prisons and jails across the country. They sometimes provide services under contract to private prisons, sometimes to state governments looking to outsource medical care. But regardless of their contractual situation, one thing is clear; to say the service they provide is substandard simply would not do the situation justice.

As with all private, for-profit entities involved in the criminal justice system, profit trumps all, especially concerns for prisoners' health. Among the horror stories coming out of just the state of New Mexico, "One inmate allegedly died from preventable complications of a perforated ulcer—after begging for treatment for six days. Another lost all vision in his eye after medical staff allegedly neglected to dispense the antibiotics outside doctors had prescribed for his infection. One inmate had to have his big toe amputated after doctors allegedly misdiagnosed a common staph infection as gout and treated it with over-the-counter painkillers."

So you may be wondering how a company seemingly incapable of providing medical care continues to find work in our nation's prisons and jails. You're not alone. It turns out they have a very effective, and very perverse, legal strategy that has helped insulate the company from nay major damage from lawsuits. CMS has developed a reputation for being a "bad corporate citizen." Not only are they continuously under scrutiny for failing to live up to their contractual obligations, CMS is also the frequent target of lawsuits filed by prisoners who have been neglected or otherwise denied medical care.

Essentially, CMS' legal strategy boils down to prolonging litigation as much as possible to force the prisoners who sue them to capitulate. The longer a trial goes on, the more legal fees prisoners, who are often extremely poor or destitute to begin with, rack up. As legal fees compound, prisoners are incapable of paying attorneys to continue with the suit, and the case is eventually dropped. CMS doesn't even settle; they just draw out the lawsuit for so long with bogus tactics and ridiculous fights over minutiae that plaintiffs, who have been victimized by CMS's greedy business practices, literally run out of money.

So not only is CMS victimizing prisoners, and not only do they, like other private companies in the criminal justice system, continue to get contracts despite poor performance; they shield themselves from retribution. They take advantage of poor people, literally kill them, and pervert any semblance of justice. But possibly the worst part about this is that it protects CMS from the unavoidable public scrutiny of multiple lawsuits. By essentially sweeping these major violations of human rights under the rug, CMS protects itself from being viewed by the public as a company incapable of providing even a modicum of healthcare, which is exactly what it is.

It's despicable. Unfortunately, however, it's a common practice in the private, for-profit world (prison and otherwise). Look at what BP's doing. They started by intentionally under-reporting the spill to limit the amount of fines they'd have to pay. BP then drug its feet on paying out claims filed by Gulf residents whose livelihoods were destroyed. Most recently, they sought a court order to dismiss the majority of those suits. There is no accountability among the businesses in this country. They lie, cheat, and steal, then use the tremendous profits they've reaped to hire lawyers who insulate them from having to provide compensation for the horrors they wreak on our world.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"A War Zone"

Those are the words used by Monico Lopez, a 22-year-old, to describe conditions at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility. Walnut Grove is a juvenile prison run by the GEO Group in Mississippi, and has been plagued by violence throughout its history.

The violence is so severe in fact that the facility is being sued by two prominent non-profit law firms. The title link just goes to a short article about a vigil that just took place at the prison to commemorate the one year anniversary of a brutal melee in which dozens of youths were violently beaten and stabbed.

Unfortunately for some reason a recent bill in the Mississippi legislature that would have funded an investigation into conditions at the facility failed to even pass out of committee. Yet again, we have an example of a private prison incapable of providing even the least bit of protection to its inmates, but escaping any sort of real oversight by the state.