Saturday, March 31, 2012

Private Prison Profiteering

In the past few months, I've been thinking a lot about the prison industrial complex and the role of private prison corporations in locking up American citizens. Over at the Concurring Opinions blog, I posted several times in February [2012] connecting the principal of corporate profit maximization with the responsibilities of executives and Board members of private prison companies.

Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman in the New York Times has just weighed in on the privatization of prisons (amongst others areas, including education), describing the role of lobbyists in influencing and creating legislative policies that impact our lives. In his opinion piece Lobbyists, Guns and Money, Krugman details the activities of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), a purported "non-partisan" corporate backed lobbying organization and its massive emerging influence. Krugman writes:

"What is ALEC? Despite claims that it’s nonpartisan, it’s very much a movement-conservative organization, funded by the usual suspects: the Kochs, Exxon Mobil, and so on. Unlike other such groups, however, it doesn’t just influence laws, it literally writes them, supplying fully drafted bills to state legislators. In Virginia, for example, more than 50 ALEC-written bills have been introduced, many almost word for word. And these bills often become law.

Many ALEC-drafted bills pursue standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization."

Predictably, based on the last sentence above "And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatizations, such as . . . the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization," Krugman received a bullying response letter from the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) trying to force a retraction for things that Krugman did not SAY, but may have implied.

The CCA claims that it does not, and never has lobbied for increasing prison sentences or developing new areas for detention (like criminalizing immigration). The CCA letter claims that "CCA does not and has not ever lobbied for or attempted to promote any legislation anywhere that affects sentencing and detention — under longstanding corporate policy."

Krugman is dubious about this claim, as am I. CCA employs dozens of lobbyists and spends millions of dollars per year lobbying legislatures around the United States in connection with promoting its business interests. To believe CCA's claim that it does not seek to influence sentencing policy or detention legislation requires one to believe that it disciplines its lobbyists to argue for and on behalf of policies that only impact privatization efforts. CCA was in the news last month because it sent letters to 48 states offering to buy the state's prisons in exchange for a 20 year agreement to pay the company to warehouse its prisoners and contractually agree to keep the prison filled at 90% capacity. A state agreeing to keep its prisons filled at 90% capacity seems to me to be an attempt to influence sentencing and detention.

I respond to CCA's claim by asking readers to consider the following question:

“Is it possible, that the Board of Directors of private prison companies . . . are literally strategizing ways to increase the prison population in the United States? To effectively increase profits for shareholders, are private prison companies not only cutting services to prisoners as a way to increase profits, but are they now drafting policies, lobbying politicians, and actively debating ways to ensure that a steady stream of “clients” continues into the private prisons that are proliferating across the United States (now over 25% of prisoners are housed in private prison facilities)?”

19 comments:

  1. Stepping into the shoes of a shareholder of a private prison company, I would desire my company to engage in lobbying for increased prison sentences if the result would be a greater return on my investment. Why should the prisoner market be treated differently than any other market? If lobbying to keep American citizens in prison longer than required for rehabilitation or to serve a necessary sentence seems unethical, then the first obvious choice is not privatize that sector. But once it is privatized, increased profit should be the goal of private prison companies.

    States could choose to change its laws dealing with this special industry to reflect a higher goal. Changing the manner in which private companies receive revenue might be a viable option to achieve that goal. Maybe companies could receive a greater return for each successful rehabilitation into society or subsidize companies that offer more humane living conditions. These options assume that profit should play a role in our criminal justice system. But once the system becomes mostly privatized, I find it hard not to look at a prisoner as my next potential (possibly lifelong) client.

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  2. When prisons are run by private corporations, the main goal is still reaching profit maximization for shareholders. I absolutely think that companies will be interested in placing as many people in prison as they can hold (plus some). It is a business with an endless supply of "clients" and an endless supply of suppliers (the American courts). In addition, the Board of Directors don't have to worry about the quality of the facility, so long as they can pass minimum regulation. It's like opening a bottom of the line hotel, never having to advertise, but having a constant full house.

    The sad part, though, is that instead of protecting the civil rights of a population that already has significant struggles, we run a heartbreaking risk of making things worse. And further, instead of providing the needed rehabilitation, the company would have little reason to rehabilitate due to the need to have them back in the prison system again and again. Further, if they did try to treat prisoners, would shareholders have some sort of sick cause of action for the company not increasing profits? The prison system is already disgustingly broken, and further privatizing only seems to exasperate the problems that already exist.

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  3. fantastic article! the whole industry is a disgraceful manifestation of the most despicable greed imaginable. CCA and GEO Group cut every possible corner to maximize profits, skimping on training for guards, medical care for prisoners, and maintenance of their facilities. Meanwhile, their executives earn millions of dollars per year while the prisoners they house are routinely abused and neglected.

    The private prison industry must be abolished! For way more info, check out http://whyihatecca.blogspot.com

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  4. This is disingenuous nonsense. Lobbyists have had a major role in writing legislation on BOTH sides of the isle for generations. In fact, lobbyists often leave their jobs to become congressional staffers following an election. Both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid employ former lobbyists as key staff members who have worked on writing of legislation that impacts their former bosses.

    Of course, when the lobbyists are working for Republicans leftists jump up and down screaming about "corruption" and "influence peddling". But when lobbyists are busy writing key pieces of Democrat legislation it's all about the insight and experience they can bring to the process.

    ALEC is an independent lobbying group that seeks to promote the interests of its members through the adoption of legislation that it has crafted. In that way it is no different than USCAP, a left-wing group made up of corporations and environmental organizations which engages in exactly the same behavior. In fact, USCAP virtually wrote the Democrats climate change legislation, while other lobbyist from the Insurance, Pharmaceutical and Hospital industries wrote key parts of Obamacare.

    Al Gore, who sits on the Board of Directors at World Resources Institute one of the founding members of USCAP, stood to make a fortune through his partnership in Kleiner Perkins if the legislation that was written by USCAP and promoted by the Democrats in congress became law. T. Boone Pickens teamed up with the Democrats to push legislation, which lobbyists had written, which would have provided massive subsidies to promote the use of natural gas making him and other Democrat connected cronies like Aubrey McClendon, Stephen Schwarzman and George Soros wealthier.

    So, when Krugman says that "Unlike other such groups, however, it doesn’t just influence laws, it literally writes them, supplying fully drafted bills to state legislators." He is either ignorant of how the system works, or he is being deliberately misleading.

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  5. I fail to see how Krugman's questionable description of "how things really are" within the lobbyist-legislative process affects the primary discussion point; I was under the impression that guaranteeing 90% prison occupancy to prison companies was the problem. Maybe I'm wrong.
    The fact that the prison corporation is required to maximize their profits indicate that there is an inherent conflict between the goals of a corporation and the supposed goals of the prison system, as Mr. Hoxie discusses above. Even more disturbing is the fact that some prisons currently contract their prisoners out to do work for private corporations, thereby incentivizing longer and more restrictive jail sentences to keep the workforce intact. The "Prisoner Industrial Complex" is a much more serious issue than most people believe - the creation of a modern slave state, especially via ALEC-sponsored initiatives like Three Strikes and Truth in Sentencing - should raise significantly more red flags in the media and government than it has to this point. The idea that supporting longer, mostly unfair criminal sentences for reasons other than rehabilitation or punishment is "no different" than lobbying groups that support universal health care is myopic and "disingenuous" in itself and only serves to obfuscate the issue at hand.

    As an aside, this is a particularly interesting article showing the history of ALEC and the prison system.
    http://www.thenation.com/article/162478/hidden-history-alec-and-prison-labor

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  6. "I fail to see how Krugman's questionable description of "how things really are" within the lobbyist-legislative process affects the primary discussion point ..." -- BVisnic

    And, yet, it was included in Dre Cummings post along with this gratuitous and demonstrably false assertion by Krugman: "the standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy."

    "I was under the impression that guaranteeing 90% prison occupancy to prison companies was the problem. The fact that the prison corporation is required to maximize their profits indicate that there is an inherent conflict between the goals of a corporation and the supposed goals of the prison system" -- BVisnic

    Notice that neither Paul Krugman or Dre Cummings is able to demonstrate that CCA has, in fact, lobbied for increased immigration detention or tougher prison sentences. Instead, they offer smears and insinuation.

    CCA was careful enough to insist that the retraction of Krugman's falsehoods be delivered in print, "We are requesting that you publish a print-edition correction to several errors in your column." They are apparently aware of Krugman's tendency to include false statements in his NYT op-eds, which are unedited, and later, when he is called out, post retractions only on his blog.

    There is, however, one group of people that routinely advocate for tougher sentencing - prison guard unions:

    "The CCPOA has played a significant role in advocating pro-incarceration policies and opposing pro-rehabilitative policies in California." -- Reason

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  7. Private prison corporations operate under a myriad of contracts in different states. The requirements of those contracts determine, in large part, the profitability of their operations. If, for instance, a corporation is required to invest heavily in new facilities it may ask that the state commit to occupancy levels in order to ensure that the requirement to build a new facility does not result in a loss to the company. This stipulation would simply give the private corporation priority, in regard to prisoner placement, over high cost, union-controlled public facilities should overall occupancy levels decline and prison populations need to be consolidated. There is no conflict between the goals of the corporation and the goals of the criminal justice system. In fact, just the opposite. In almost all cases the private prisons operate at a lower cost to the taxpayer than the union-controlled public system without additional risk to the staff and inmates.

    In 2001, a comprehensive study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the Justice Department, showed that "privately operated prisons function as well as publicly operated prisons." Private prison corporations have a long track record of safe operations. They operate across dozens of states and federal agencies and are routinely held contractually to higher safety and performance standards than public prisons. And unlike their unionized competitors, if a private company cannot demonstrate that it can effectively manage a prison facility it will not be able to retain its state customers, or attract new business. Most privately operated prisons are required to meet or exceed the performance standards outlined by the American Correctional Association (ACA), a national organization providing professional certification and accreditation of correctional facilities, and are subject to the regulation and oversight of the communities in which they locate.

    There is absolutely no reason that a small group of unionized workers, with a proven history of lobbying for tougher sentencing in order to promote their own interests, should be given a monopoly on the execution of these government contracts. Conservatives are not anti-union, they are anti-monopoly and anti-protection racket. If unions want to execute government contracts, fine. However, they should be required to regularly compete for them and be able to show that the higher cost of unionized labor delivers a real value to the taxpayers and not just an opportunity for increased campaign contributions to their political cronies.

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  8. I think that this post helps support the idea that these private private industries are looking for new ways to make sure there is a steady prison population. This is because they openly admit their company's success depends on it. I find it interesting that CCA, a private prison company, is very open about the fact that if there is to be sentencing reform or a change in legislation the company will suffer. This is seen in CCA's annual report to shareholders in 2010 where they state,

    “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws...Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated."

    As seen above they know what could happen to their company if there is a change in legislation. This is why now with immigration as one of the major issues in our country CCA and others have been using their money and networking abilities to influence legislation in places like Arizona. Below is a link to an article that demonstrates the way this is being done in Arizona.

    http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/6085/ties_that_bind_arizona_politicians_and_the_private_prison_industry

    Also there is an agency called Immigration and Customs Agency (ICE) which oversees the imprisonment of 400,000 foreign nationals a year has been criticized for seeking a private prison contract with a company with ties to NJ Governor Christie. See http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/banking-bondage-private-prisons-and-mass-incarceration.

    The problem here is that if the legislative and executive branches, due to the temptation of the constant election cycle and need for campaign money, are unable to do anything or see the issue. Does this leave it up to the judiciary to step in? What could judges even do? These questions are ones that I see influencing this issue in the future. Erica Armstrong

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  9. “California spends approximately $9 billion a year on its correctional system, and hosts one in seven of the nation’s prisoners. It has the largest prison population of any state. The number of correctional facilities, the amount of compensation for their unionized staffs, and the total cost of incarcerating a prisoner in the state—$44,563 a year—have exploded over the past 30 years. Over that same period, the quality of the state’s prison system declined precipitously. . . . The growth of California’s incarceration system, and the decline of its quality, tracks the accession to power of the state’s prison guards union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. The CCPOA has played a significant role in advocating pro-incarceration policies and opposing pro-rehabilitative policies in California. In 1980, CCPOA’s 5,600 members earned about $21,000 a year and paid dues of about $35 a month. After the rapid expansion of the prison population beginning in the 1980s, CCPOA’s 33,000 members today earn approximately $73,000 and pay monthly dues of about $80. These dues raise approximately $23 million each year, of which the CCPOA allocates approximately $8 million to lobbying. As Ms. Petersilia explains, “The formula is simple: more prisoners lead to more prisons; more prisons require more guards; more guards means more dues-paying members and fund-raising capability; and fund-raising, of course, translates into political influence.”
    _________

    "... the CCPOA is able to successfully lobby for more generous compensation for their membership. As of July 2006, the average CCPOA correctional officer earned $73,248 a year—more than the average salary of an assistant professor with a PhD at the University of California ($60,000 per year in 2006). With overtime, it is not uncommon for California correctional officers to earn over $100,000 a year. A Los Angeles Times investigation found that 6,000 correctional officers earned more than $100,000 in 2006, with hundreds earning more than legislators and other state officials."

    -- The Role of the Prison Guards Union in California’s Troubled Prison System

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  10. "In brief, there is a lot of hard evidence of pro-incarceration advocacy by public corrections officers’ unions (though a small part of union advocacy also cuts the other way). (There is also hard evidence that most Departments of Corrections advocate the other way—in favor of alternatives to incarceration.) But there is virtually no hard evidence of private-sector pro-incarceration advocacy. This may simply mean that the private sector advocates secretly. But, in light of the theory, it is more plausible that the private sector simply free-rides, saving its political advocacy for policy areas where the public good aspect is less severe—pro-privatization advocacy."

    "... many of [CCPOA’s] contributions are directly pro-incarceration. It gave over $100,000 to California’s Three Strikes initiative, Proposition 184 in 1994, making it the second-largest contributor. It gave at least $75,000 to the opponents of Proposition 36, the 2000 initiative that replaced incarceration with substance abuse treatment for certain nonviolent offenders. From 1998 to 2000 it gave over $120,000 to crime victims’ groups, who present a more sympathetic face to the public in their pro-incarceration advocacy. It spent over $1 million to help defeat Proposition 66, the 2004 initiative that would have limited the crimes that triggered a life sentence under the Three Strikes law. And in 2005, it killed Gov. Schwarzenegger’s plan to “reduce the prison population by as much as 20,000, mainly through a program that diverted parole violators into rehabilitation efforts: drug programs, halfway houses and home detention.”

    -- Alexander Volokh, "Privatization and the Law and Economics of Political Advocacy", 66 Stanford Law Review 1197 (2008)

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  11. In abstract terms, I view this situation as one in which a private corporation sees an opportunity to profit by supplanting an inefficiently run government organization. If the private sector can do the same or better job—at a lower cost—what is the harm to taxpayers? Price-competitive markets generally produce superior results. The problem is when there are monopolies in those markets which negate any cost-savings advantage.
    I also think the “90% capacity” language is being twisted. The actual text of the letter says that the CCA needs “An assurance by the agency partner that the agency has sufficient inmate population to maintain a minimum 90 percent occupancy rate over the term of the contract.” That’s different than a contractual agreement to keep the prison filled, which is undoubtedly unethical and likely an unconstitutional government concession. As a public corporation, profit maximization is the primary goal, and I see the CCA’s requirement as merely a way to protect profitability.
    With that said, I think the ethical implications of privatizing prisons are privatization’s Achilles heel. Unlike other compartmentalized governmental services that have successfully been privatized, correctional facilities are inseparable from the criminal justice system as a whole, the aims of which are deterrence, punishment, and rehabilitation. The connection between deterrence and privatization is attenuated. However, regarding punishment and rehabilitation, a private correctional facility would too easily be tempted to deemphasize an inmate’s rehabilitation in order to increase the likelihood of that inmate’s future punishment, thus increasing profitability.

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  12. It is, by a very wide margin, the costliest prison system among the largest states, with a per-inmate cost that prison officials tag at around $45,000 a year, roughly what it costs to send a youngster to one of the more prestigious private universities.

    The average among the nation's 10 most populous states, according to one recent calculation, is $27,237 per year per inmate, including states with substantially higher incarceration rates, such as Texas. Therefore, prisons consume a much-higher portion of California's general fund budget than those of other states – more than 10 percent.

    The other nine states' prison costs range from less than 4 percent of their general fund budgets (Florida) to 8.2 percent (Michigan) with an average of about 6 percent. Or to put it another way, were California spending an average amount on its felons, it would be spending about $4 billion less each year.

    Given their high costs, one might think that our prisons would be very commodious and successful in rehabilitation. But they are terribly overcrowded, so much so that a federal judge may order inmate releases. The system's recidivism rate is among the nation's highest, as are its costs of supervising parolees. And prison health care is so bad (despite its $14,000 per inmate annual cost) that a federal receiver has been put in charge and he wants to spend much more.

    -- The Sacramento Bee


    Leftists foolishly argue that "privatization" equals higher costs since the private company must make a profit. This is simply economic illiteracy. Having to make a profit in a competitive environment, or within the structure of a competitively acquired contract - particularly one that reduces overall costs for the customer - results in innovation and efficiency. The price of almost every good or service produced or provided by the private sector comes down over time while the quality improves, the exact opposite of what happens when something is produced or provided by the government.

    The $4 billion dollars that the state of California would save each year, if their costs related to incarceration were simply in line with other states, is money that could have been used to prevent the tuition increases now impacting university students. Ask yourselves, "Who are these public employees unions organized against?".

    Public employees unions, including the prison guards unions, have become a large part of the leftist coalition. They have used the enormous amounts of money that their members dues generate to corrupt the political process and to advocate for increased government spending. Spending that is almost always directed at increasing their own salaries and pensions. The money they spend lobbying and the influence it buys isn't any more "pure" or "just" because it comes from self-interested union members instead of private corporations.

    The enormous amount of debt that this nation has run up at both the state and national level will have to be paid by someone, and that someone is you.

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  13. The prison system in the united states is broken. union lobbying for harsher sentencing and increased ways to imprison american citizens is immoral, as is the private prison corporation's attempts to increase profits by lobbying for criminalization of illegal immigration and harsher sentencing. the war on drugs is an utter failure and has resulted in millions of minority men being locked up when all evidence indicates that drug usage rates are consistent across racial lines. see michelle alexander, the new jim crow (2010). to believe the private prison industries contentions that it does not and never has lobbied for increased sentencing and harsher detention policies is simply naive. likewise, to argue that correction officer's lobbying for harsher sentencing policies has not significantly corrupted the state run prison system is equally naive.

    the private prison system's intimate involvement in passing arizona's anti-immigration law (sb-1070), currently held up in the federal court's, is outlined at these sources:

    Laura Sullivan, Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law, National Public Radio (Oct. 28, 2010), http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130833741

    Lee Fang, Prison Industry Funnels Donations To State Lawmakers Introducing SB1070-Like Bills Around The Country, Sept. 16, 2010, http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/09/16/117661/sb1070-prison-lobby/

    How Corporate Interests Got SB 1070 Passed, NPR (Nov. 9, 2010), http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId= 131191523

    Maurice Belanger, Arizona’s SB 1070 and the Prison Lobby, NAT’L IMMIGR. F., Oct. 28, 2010, http://www.immigrationforum.org/blog/display/arizonas-sb-1070-and-the-prison-lobby/

    Beau Hodai, Ties That Bind: Arizona Politicians and the Private Prison Industry, IN THESE TIMES, Jun. 21, 2010, http:/www.inthesetimes.com/article/6058/ties_that_bind_arizona_politicians_and_the_private_prison_industry

    Laura Sullivan, Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law, NPR (Oct. 28, 2010), http://www.npr.org/2010/10/28/130833741/prison-economics-help-drive-ariz-immigration-law

    Beau Hodai, Corporate Con Game, In These Times, Jun. 21, 2010, http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/6084/corporate_con_game/

    and sources that detail the private prison industries massive lobbying efforts generally are below:

    Adam Gopnik, The Caging of America, THE NEW YORKER, Jan. 30, 2012, http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/01/30/120130crat_atlarge_gopnik

    PAUL ASHTON & AMANDA PETTERUTI, JUST. POL’Y INST., GAMING THE SYSTEM: HOW THE POLITICAL STRATEGIES OF PRIVATE PRISON COMPANIES PROMOTE INEFFECTIVE INCARCERATION POLICIES (2011), available at http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/gaming_the_system.pdf

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  14. " ... union lobbying for harsher sentencing and increased ways to imprison american citizens is immoral, as is the private prison corporation's attempts to increase profits by lobbying for criminalization of illegal immigration ..." -- Dre Cummings

    First, no one has to lobby for the "criminalization of illegal immigration", it's already ILLEGAL.

    The U.S. has the most generous immigration laws in the world. We take in more LEGAL immigrants than the rest of the nations of the world COMBINED. We do this without regard to race, religion, educational achievement, personal wealth or any of the other myriad qualifying requirements that other nations impose. And still, the left constantly berates and insults Americans as "racist", "jingoistic", "nativist", etc.

    Illegal immigrants impose billions of dollars of costs on the American public every year, money that could and should be spent on our own citizens and their children. If the private prison industry wants to compete for the contracts relating to the detention of illegals awaiting hearings or deportation, there is nothing immoral or dishonorable in that.

    What is immoral and dishonorable is to suggest, as a law professor, that the laws of this nation should not be enforced. If you do not like our immigration laws, fine, build a consensus and work through the legislative process to change them. In the meantime, the state has both the obligation and the moral duty to enforce them. Selective enforcement of the law is tyranny.

    If you are so passionate about the plight of immigrants you should move to Mexico, Brazil, China, Saudi Arabia or Japan and work at reforming their immigration laws which are far more restrictive than ours.

    As for our broken prison system, yes, unions lobbying for increased sentencing as a way to line their pockets is immoral. And, yet, their deep involvement was not included in your original post. Why? Instead, you chose to insinuate, without hard evidence, that current sentencing policies were the reflection of the lobbying efforts of private prison corporations. They're corporations, right? They must be guilty.

    Private prison companies do not write our criminal code and they do not make arrests. What they do, and what the left cannot accept, is compete with unionized public employees whose fealty to the Democrat Party and it's leftist agenda means that they must be supported no matter the cost to society at large.

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  15. private prison companies do influence draft criminal code legislation. private prison companies do lobby for harsher sentencing regimes. private prison corporations do attempt to increase profit by increasing the stream of individuals that enter our nation's prisons (see all of the sources outlined above). private prison companies do not merely "compete" with unionized public employees for the right to warehouse american criminals - to suggest otherwise is disingenuous and naive.

    the u.s. prison system is broken. it requires a complete reordering of priorities and incentives. lobbying is illegal in most civilized nations. it most certainly should be illegal in connection with incarcerating human beings (for both private prisons and unions of correctional officers, etc.).

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    1. Yes, the U.S. prison system is broken; and no, private corporations shouldn't have any influence whatsoever on the U.S. criminal justice system; however, we must accept, if only presently, the prison-industrial complex because, without question, it exists.

      That said, who's been following CXW (ticker symbol for CCA) on the NYSE????? It closed today at $28.41/share, 14 percent below its closing price on 6/2007. In my opinion the stock is undervalued and, potentially, a good long term bet. After all, even absent a future increase in the number of crimes warranting a prison term, the natural increase in U.S. population over the coming years should result in a concomitant rise in the number of persons incarcerated. That fact, coupled with the unfortunate economic situations in which both federal and state governments currently find themselves, supports the notion that, perhaps, CCA investors "can't lose."

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  16. The practice of private prison profiteering is wrong in my opinion. Our prison system is our government’s means of social and cultural correction. When you break the rules established by our society, you are punished. When prisons are privatized to this extent, the focus is no longer centered on social correction. Instead, the prison system is centered primarily on profitability. Thus, because minorities make up the majority of inmates in prisons, imprisoned minorities are responsible for making most of the profit. I am not saying that minorities should not have to serve prison sentences when convicted of crimes that warrant such punishment. However, it is my opinion that the growth of prison privatization allows a direct link between race and commerce. In order to fill prisons and keep them at capacity, areas of high crime will be targeted more than ordinary. I know and believe that citizens have the right to feel safe in their neighborhoods and homes. However, reality shows that minorities are simply going be targeted more because they are seen more as an “economic gain” within the private prison industry. History has repeatedly evidenced the dangers of using people as commerce and a way to increase profit maximization. Therefore, I find private prison profiteering to be fundamentally wrong.

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  17. There is no doubt that the incarceration rate in the United States is appalling. Perhaps, we need to revisit the true reason for incarceration. Incarceration is a form of punishment and/ or rehabilitation for committing a crime. However, our laws take rehabilitation out of context, and gives incarceration a whole new meaning. The prison system cannot rehabilitate prisoners to become better members of our society if they have been labeled a felon for life for committing minor offenses. In a conversation with Tavis Smiley on NPR, Dr. Cornel West stated that the role of prisons in a democratic society is to create access to forms of education so that those who have done the wrong thing can help themselves. I agree with Dr. West, and I truly believe that prisons should emphasis rehabilitation. If we believe that the system is working and prisoners are truly being rehabilitated, why does the legal system label prisoners a felon for life regardless of their offences? This is part of why we have so many repeat offenders, and the private prisons keep making money from our failed legal structure.

    It is also worth mentioning that the incarceration rate for African Americans is shocking. As a resident of Maryland, I am particularly shocked at the incarceration rate of African Americans in the state. African Americans comprise 76% of Maryland's prisoners, 90% of Maryland's prisoners incarcerated for drug offenses, yet African Americans are only 28% of the state's total population. In the book, The New Jim Crow, civil rights advocate, Michelle Alexander talks about mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. She noted that it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. This is morally wrong and our legal system need to start addressing this issue.

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  18. Here is a fact for all of you, when the number if inmates or heads in beds (HIB's) as they like to refer to the inmates as, are down; they look to areas to cut back on costs. Now, you would think they would do this with electricity, water and gas usage but in actuality the major cut backs are in staffing, take for example CCA, they, like most companies in this sector will never staff at 100%, depending on head counts staffing can be anywhere from 92% to 96%. Where are these cuts usually made? Security, its horribly scary that security staff are cut while corporate offices pack their ranks with newly created positions and pass quarterly bonuses out to executives, managers, directors etc etc... And how is this achieved, THEY LIE to their so called customers by promising available beds at locations that can not house them due to custody/classification issues and other varying factors. The fact is regardless of the saying "Public Safety," if money (REVENUE) is not being generated, they don't give a damn if the PUBLIC IS SAFE! Its okay to have an incident or two as long as REVENUE is being generated.


    Lets get back to what PRISON is about..... You break the law, you go to prison, you pay your debt to society, you need nothing more then a bed to sleep in, clothing on your back,food, informative education geared towards successful re-entry into society and medical care. No more A@# kissing by giving TV's, Games, special treats and all the other crap that most Children, Who by the way are doing the right things in life can not have or afford!

    Good Job CCA, you give inmates everything they cry for and you provide nothing to your staff as far as support goes.

    Here are the types of people they hire.

    http://www.lvrj.com/news/10884966.html

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