Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The End of Leniency in New Mexico

I have previously reported on the problems New Mexico has experienced with private prisons.  In particular they've found the prisons to be wildly more expensive than government-run facilities, and have found major staffing deficiencies and other issues at prisons run by the GEO Group and CCA.  In the past, these companies had escaped responsibility for short-staffing their facilities, when the head of the state's DOC, Joe Williams, former employee of the GEO Group, failed to fine the companies for repeated contract violations.  Well all that has changed with new Corrections Secretary Lupe Martinez, who is determined to ensure the state collect on the fines her predecessor failed to bring in (to the tune of $18 million the state missed out on).

Now that Joe Williams has returned to working for the private prison industry, reclaiming a position with the GEO Group after leaving his post in New Mexico, the state has begun to hold the two companies to account.  After assessing more than a million dollars' worth of fines last year against the industry, CCA and the GEO Group failed to learn their lesson.  GEO just got fined almost $300,000 for failing to maintain adequate staffing levels at its facilities, and CCA got hit with nearly $12,000 in fines for holding female prisoners well beyond their expected release dates, in some cases more than a month longer.  Now, why would a prison do that?, you may be asking yourself.  Because by continuing to house those prisoners, they continued to collect on the per diem the state paid them to house the prisoners. 

This abuse of authority is sickening; CCA literally imprisoned people unlawfully in order to make more money.  Welcome to the world of for-profit prisons!

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