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Governor Jan Brewer isn't resting on her laurels after force feeding SB 1070 down the throats of Arizona taxpayers. Now she is ignoring important Arizona audit study findings that were critical of privatized prisons.

This study found that housing a medium-custody inmate at a private prison costs $55.89 per day while the cost to house the same medium-custody inmate within a state facility is $48.13 a day. State auditor Dale Chapman said more extensive research was needed on the costs of private run prisons. A spokesperson for Gov. Jan Brewer responded that "the governor has commissioned a study of private prisons that will review the cost of housing inmates." Oh yes she did. Let's take a look at the make-up of those "commissioned" to look into privatization by Brewer.

This latest study is but one of those conducted over the years that clearly show private prison operations cost taxpayers more - not less.

Brewer's Commission on Privatization and Efficiency (COPE) is what her office referred to over a month ago. Today the members of that commission were identified in an articleby the "Tuscon Citizen".

The members of COPE all have current or previous connections and ties to corporations involved in private prison operations. Here is a quote taken from yesterday's article:

"And who are the “experts” the Governor has chosen for the task?

The Chair of the Commission is Mark Brnovich. Mr. Brnovich served as a Senior Director of State and Customer Relations for Corrections Corporation of America from 2005-2006 and was a lobbyist for them in 2007.

Also on the Commission are Robert Burns, outgoing President of the Senate, and Kirk Adams, Speaker of the House.  Between 2008 and 2010, Adams received multiple campaign contributions from individuals associated with the GEO Group, and one donation from a person associated with CCA.

Burns is the Arizona Public Sector Chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and oversees ALEC’s Scholarship Fund, which “reimburses” legislators for the travel expenses incurred in attending ALEC’s events.  At these events, the legislators are wined and dined by corporate lobbyists and are given a sales pitch on ALEC’s “model legislation,” such as SB1070."

Once again ALEC raises it's ugly head - surrounded by a coven of snakes hissing and grinning from it. Together Brewer, CCA, Geo Group and ALEC are thumbing their noses at all of us. These clear and direct connections between privatization and the American Legislative Exchange Council demonstrate that at the core of most privatization efforts is ALEC. Their efforts are no longer disguised as providing a valuable service to the public by reducing tax dollars for incarceration - no, they no longer try and hide that fact that their efforts are profit driven, not conducted as a service to us and have shown a marked disinterest that their services are in fact more costly in tax dollars.

In the face of concrete evidence that outsourcing prison operations to private corporations are costing taxpayers more than $7.00 more per diem, COPE, ALEC and Brewer create their own reality, by ignoring the findings and cautions of the state auditor and push for even more unnecessary and costly privatization of Arizona's state prison population.

Brewer is sure that we have already forgotten the issue of the escape of three inmates from one of her "private prisons" earlier this year. That resulted in two citizens of New Mexico being killed by two of the three escapees. She's sure we've not read of the abuses of prisoners by the guards employed by CCA, Geo Group or Management & Training Corp. In the face of all that State leaders in recent years have pushed for more privatization and have blocked efforts to regulate the industry, which has invested heavily in local lobbying and contributed to political campaigns.

Here are but a few of the abuses inflicted upon men, women and juvenile state prisoners by employees of private prisons. The abuse covers everything from child abuse, to assaults and rapes of female prisoners:

Texas
Texas
Texas
Arizona
Idaho
Louisiana
Washington State
Kentucky
Missouri

This kind of abuse is not restricted to US prisoners in state and federal custody. These same private prison corporations have been responsible for abuses in facilities run overseas:

New Zealand
Iraq
Canada
Britain
Australia

It isn't just the lucrative contracts issued to the likes of CCA that's costing taxpayers more money than necessary. Contracts awarded to these private companies include provisions for payment for services and for withholding funds for contract noncompliance. One might suspect that noncompliance penalties save them money. In many cases this just isn't so. Take the case of New Mexico's private prison contracts. Under those contracts the NMDC paid the private prison contractors a set amount per position (employee) per day. If any of those positions remained vacant beyond 30 days (60 in some instances) the NMDC could "fine" the contractor and recover the amounts paid to them for those positions that were vacant.

In September 2010 New Mexico's state Legislative Finance Committee completed a report on enforcement efforts regarding private prison contracts. It reveals that over the four year period looked into, many positions were vacant as were security posts New Mexico taxpayers paid for. The findings estimated that over the course of that four year period as much as $22.7 million was overpaid to the contractor(s) for these vacant positions. $18.6 million of those tax dollars was recoverable - had the Secretary of the Department of Corrections, Joe Williams enforced the contract terms. Instead of attempting to recover that money, he chose instead to allow the over-payments and not enforce the contract terms. This decision cost New Mexico taxpayers $18.6 million of their tax dollars. They depend upon those appointed or elected to public offices to protect and look after their interests. In this case, New Mexico's Director of Corrections chose to favor the private corporations providing services to the state.

In the case of New Mexico's private prison contracts, anyone want to hazard a guess who the corporations are? Yeah, you're right...Geo Group and CCA. When put on the hot seat for not going after the money in penalties from both, NM Corrections Secretary Joe Williams said"

“They are not having escapes; there are no substantial problems.  If there were a problem I would be down there penalizing them..." and

“The contract does not say I shall do it. The contract says I can do it.”

So, not only do these prison corporations enjoy lucrative infusions of money through their contracts, they also realize additional profits by not filling necessary and paid for positions in the prisons. They are making money through the front, back and side doors (prison industry operations). This is why the Prison Industrial Complex is one of the few remaining growth industries in the U.S. today.

Private prisons provide the worst care at the highest cost in tax dollars. There should be no mistake, privatization efforts are directed at increasing profits for the likes of CCA. It isn't enough that they are going to cost taxpayers billion$ in fighting SB 1070 and companion legislation in 22 additional states...they intend to further reduce the state treasury through more privatization. Brewer has made no excuses for her privatization efforts in Arizona - including wanting to privatize state parks that are not bringing in enough money to suit her.

Now Michigan's incoming Governor, Rick Snyder has spoken in glowing terms of “public-private partnerships.” Not to be outdone by her successor, Michigan's outgoing Governor Granholm just published an article titled: "America Needs a Jobs Race to the Top" where she offers:

" • Devote the competition to rewarding the most effective public-private partnerships. These must be developed at the local level. Define "effective" in terms of the numbers of lasting jobs created quickly.

"• Reward regions that build on their strengths, partner with the private sector and change public policy to drive jobs results. Take the Sunbelt states. In exchange for federal dollars to offset a company's upfront capital costs or new technology installation, these states might create a dramatically streamlined permitting process for solar farms. Or they could offer a partnership with specific private-sector solar energy producers to build out the energy generation, and ensure strong demand for renewable energy inside the region through a robust Renewable Energy Standard.

During the Governor's race in Florida, Rick Scott  voiced that increasing privatization in Florida can be used to reduce the more than $2 billion annual budget of the FDOC. Similar ideas are now floating all over the country - and there is absolutely no doubt where the ideas come from or whom those "ideaa" will benefit.

If any still doubt that we are caught up in a third war- beyond Afghanistan and Iraq - over our tax dollars - it truly is an "Us against Them" (or the haves versus the have-nots)- have only to look upon the inside and back pages of your local newspapers to find small articles on privatization of your city or state owned responsibilities. The replacement of private sector employees in municipal, county and state operations with prisoners articles. This is happening almost daily across the country and while some think it has no direct bearing upon their lives they are mistaken. As I've pointed out time and again, this privatization results in job losses. Men and women who have been city, state or federal employees for years, find themselves unemployed when privatization takes over, replacing them with lower paid employees with less skills and need for benefits.

As far back as 1995 bloggers were trying to warn us about prison labor taking our jobs and making the products we rely upon in our daily lives. Then the economy wasn't in the condition it is in today and maybe that was why none of their words or warnings were taken seriously. Today we can look around and see the results of our disinterest back then. Here's a brief look at some of the information that was available 15 years ago to warn us of what was to come:

"Wisconsin is following the lead of other states, such as California, Tennessee, Kansas, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Nevada and Iowa, which have incorporated prisoners into the labor force, placing artificial downward pressure on wages. Thousands of state and federal prisoners are currently generating more than $1 billion per year in sales for private businesses, often competing directly with the private sector labor force. The Correctional Industries Association predicts that by the year 2000, 30 percent of America's inmate population will labor to create nearly $9 billion in sales for private business interests.

Oregon has even started advertising its prison labor force and factories, claiming that businesses who utilize incarcerated workers would otherwise go overseas for cheap labor (thanks, GATT and NAFTA!). In 1995, an overwhelming majority of Oregon voters passed a constitutional amendment that will put 100 percent of its state inmates to work.

And they'll be making a lot more than license plates and road signs. One product of Oregon's inmate factories are uniforms for McDonald's. Tennessee inmates stitch together jeans for Kmart and JC Penney, as well as $80 wooden rocking ponies for Eddie Bauer. Mattresses and furniture are perennial favorites in prison factories, and Ohio inmates even produced car parts for Honda, until the United Auto Workers intervened. Prisoners have been employed doing data entry, assembling computer circuit boards and even taking credit card ticket orders for TWA.

But private industry isn't the only sector eager to exploit cheap prison labor. On June 14, 1995, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly rejected an amendment to the 1996 Defense Authorization bill which would have permitted the Defense Department to use nonviolent offender inmates provided by state or local corrections facilities to do construction and maintenance services at military installations.

Enter the next maneuver to increase profits by taking it directly out of the taxpayer's pockets...appointments of individuals - sympathetic to these corporate profits - to key government positions where they can direct more funds toward these private prison corporations. We only have to look at the current fiasco involving a former employee of the Federal Detention Office Trustee (OFDT) official - Stacia Hylton - chosen by President Obama to head the U.S. Marshal's office.

The USMO has numerous contracts involving the placement of federal detainees and prisoners under their control, in permanent facilities. Let's take a look at what those involved in oversight of the program and knowledge about the past performance of Hylton regarding private prison corporations [Alliance for Justice, Detention Watch Network, Grassroots Leadership, Human Rights Defense Center, International CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants), Justice Policy Institute, Private Corrections Working Group, Public Citizen and the National Lawyers Guild] have to say about her appointment:

P R E S S   R E L E A S E
 
Coalition of Human Rights, Criminal Justice Organizations Announces  
Opposition to Obama Nominee
November 9, 2010 – Private Corrections Working Group & Prison Legal News
For Immediate Release
 
Washington, DC – A coalition of human rights and criminal justice organizations today announced their opposition to President Obama’s nomination of Stacia A. Hylton to head the U.S. Marshals Service.

Hylton, a former Marshal and Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Marshals Service with a lengthy career in law enforcement, was employed from June 2004 to February 2010 as the Federal Detention Trustee, where she oversaw the detention of federal prisoners awaiting trial or immigration proceedings. Following her retirement she was nominated by President Obama on September 20, 2010 to direct the U.S. Marshals Service.

During Hylton’s tenure as Federal Detention Trustee, GEO Group, the nation’s secondlargest for-profit private prison company, was awarded a number of lucrative contracts to house federal prisoners. These included a sole-source ten-year contract at GEO’s Western Region Detention Facility in San Diego, generating approximately $34 million in annual revenue; a 20-year contract to operate the 1,500-bed Rio Grande Detention Center in Laredo, Texas with an estimated $34 million in annual revenue; and a 20-year sole-source contract to manage the Robert A. Deyton Detention Facility in Lovejoy, Georgia, generating $16-20 million in annual revenue.

As reported by the Washington Times in an October 25 article, after retiring as Federal Detention Trustee earlier this year, Hylton quickly accepted a consulting job with GEO Group through her Virginia-based company, Hylton Kirk & Associates LLC, of which she is the president and sole owner. In her financial disclosure statement, Hylton reported
income of $112,500 for “consulting services for detention matters, federal relations, and acquisitions and mergers.” GEO Group is the only company listed in her disclosure statement in connection with such consulting services.

According to the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Hylton’s consulting company was formed on Jan. 13, 2010 – more than a month before she retired from her position as Federal Detention Trustee. However, in her questionnaire submitted to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, she stated she began working for her consulting company in March 2010, the month after her retirement.

“This is a prime example of the revolving door between the public and for-profit private sectors turning full circle,” said Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center that reports on criminal justice issues.

“After cashing in on her experience in public law enforcement by taking a consulting job with GEO Group, Ms. Hylton has now been nominated for a high-level federal position where she will oversee detention services for the U.S. Marshals – including services provided by private prison firms such as GEO.”

"The U.S. Marshals preside over one of the nation's largest privatized federal detention systems,” added Bob Libal, with Grassroots Leadership. “Policies that have driven the private prison expansion such as Operation Streamline are carried out by the U.S. Marshals. Ms. Hylton's consulting work with the GEO Group, a troubled company that benefits handsomely from such policies, is a cause for major concern."

Also while Hylton served as Federal Detention Trustee, Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, was awarded a 20-year contract to design, build and operate the $80 million 1,072-bed Nevada Southern Detention Center. Further, under Hylton’s direction, the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee granted a sole-source 20-year contract to CCA to hold U.S. Marshals prisoners at the company’s
Leavenworth Detention Center in Kansas, and approved a sole-source contract for CCA to house U.S. Marshals detainees at a prison in Pinal County, Arizona. Approximately 40% of CCA’s business comes from the federal government.

According to a February 26, 2010 post on a website for CCA employees (www.theinsideCCA.com), current CCA president Damon Hininger attended Hylton’s retirement party in Washington, DC. Hininger noted that it “was a nice event and while there, I got the opportunity to speak with various USMS and ICE officials.”

Additionally, in her response to a 2007 draft audit report by the Inspector General’s Office on oversight of intergovernmental agreements by the U.S. Marshals Service  and the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee (OIG report 07-26), Hylton objected to the OIG’s recommendation that the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee “limit[] the amount of profit a state or local jail can earn for housing federal prisoners.” Since some
jails that house federal detainees are privately-operated, Hylton’s objections apparently encompassed limitations on profit earned by private jail contractors.

"The primary goal of private prison companies is financial,” stated Charlie Sullivan, director of International CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants), a nonprofit criminal justice reform organization. “This profit motive over-rides decisions on whether to release a prisoner and whether to provide rehabilitative programs.”

In 2006, Hylton gave a presentation to the Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations (APCTO), an industry organization that advocates for private companies that provide correctional services, including prison privatization. APCTO’s membership includes Management & Training Corporation, a private prison contractor that houses thousands of federal detainees for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, ICE and the
U.S. Marshals Service.

“It is extremely worrisome that Ms. Hylton is nominated for a position where she would be directly involved with overseeing contracts with private prison companies to house federal detainees, given her cozy relationship with the private prison industry and her acceptance of more than $100,000 from GEO through her consulting work,” said Ken Kopczynski, director of the Private Corrections Working Group, a non-profit citizen
watchdog organization that opposes prison privatization.

Despite repeated requests to both the White House and GEO Group, neither responded to questions regarding Hylton’s consulting relationship with GEO.

The Alliance for Justice, Human Rights Deffense Center, Private Corrections Working Group, Grassroots Leadership, National Lawyers Guild, International CURE, Detention Watch Network and Justice Policy Institute today announced their opposition to Hylton’s nomination, based on her close ties to the private prison industry and the conflict those
ties would create should she be appointed to direct the U.S. Marshals Service.

“While Ms. Hylton indicated she had spoken with the Office of Governmental Ethics to resolve any potential conflicts, the fact remains that she formed a consulting firm before retiring as Federal Detention Trustee, and apparently the only company she has consulted for is GEO Group – which has received multi-million dollar contracts from the federal government, including the U.S. Marshals,” Kopczynski noted. “Given that she accepted money from the very industry she was overseeing as Detention Trustee, and
will be overseeing again if appointed to head the Marshals, this is a conflict that cannot simply be waived. It ill serves the public for the Obama administration to nominate Ms. Hylton in light of such an obvious conflict of interest.”

“Last year, while states saw their prison populations decline for the first time in years, the federal population continued to rise,” added Tracy Velázquez, executive director  of the Justice Policy Institute. “As taxpayers, we can’t afford increasing rates of incarceration, which we know is a failed public safety strategy that has terrible consequences for communities. The Administration should not be appointing someone working for the industry that most stands to gain by further increasing our country’s incarceration rate.”

The coalition of organizations opposing Hylton’s nomination will be contacting the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the White House to voice their concerns."

The reports I've linked above demonstrate - clearly - that privatization of prisons costs us more money, not less as promised by CCA, Geo Group and their lobbyists and supporters. Prison industries run by corporate interests are contributing to our private sector job loses, as I've shown previously in my Insourcing and Corporatocracy series'. There is only so much money we can afford to continue to funnel into the pockets of those involved in both. In the face of all we've paid in these efforts over the past few decades, they expect more of the same - whether we can afford it or not.

How would I define privatization? To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, it’s not unlike a partnership between a wolf and a sheep. In exchange for the sheep’s tax dollars, the wolf provides the badly needed service of devouring the sheep. As appropriate back in Franklin's time as it is today.

They will continue to make arguments about our safety if inmates are released early...they will continue to warn that they can protect us better than our state prisons can...they will continue to insist that privatization works and pressure us to turn over more and more government responsibilities and assets to them. These arguments are the pattern used by them for years to inject fear and thereby suck more and more out of state and federal coffers. They continue to interject the words "criminals", "inmates", "convicts", "crime rates" and "illegal alien immigration" into all of their arguments because they know those words work to incite public opinion that supports their efforts. We simply have to realize this issue is not about prisoners, crime or anything other than massive profits to the corporate elite...and stop listening to their rhetoric. We are being fooled time and again and each time it means millions in their pockets.

Now - today - all of us are caught up in the tax issues involving the richest among us. Included in that ultra-elite of our society are the owners and investors involved in privatization in the U.S. Though this "group" comprises less than 2% of our society, they represent more than half of the accumulated wealth in this country. They have created a giant pyramid scheme whereby all money, assets, personal wealth and property travels upward into their outstretched hands.

Not only are these few individuals reaping benefits from corporate sales, diversifications, mergers and acquisition of companies owned by their competitors, they are going after our tax dollars through privatization efforts. Profits from prison industry, private run prisons, youth and juvenile facility operations keep them rich and happy - off the sweat and tears of the most unfortunate among us. Through ALEC they have created a dynasty out of incarceration that rewards them handsomely - in tax dollars.

Now, not satisfied with the riches accumulated by all that, they sit at the pinnacle of society, like Jabba the Hut in Star Wars, demanding that we, as their minions, bring them more and even more yet as their due. As President Obama stated the other day, "...they are holding us hostage" through the conservative faction of the Republican party. They are unwilling to even "suffer" a 4% increase on their vast incomes to allow us in the middle class to have a respite - some breathing room so we can have roofs over our head, food on the table and a vehicle to drive.

Corporate owners are still angry about the way the healthcare debate turned out and are intent on making us suffer the consequences for our daring to restrict or limit profits garnered through medical and health insurance premiums. Those who profit from such premiums are their neighbors and belong to the same upper class Country Clubs, don't you know?

This capitalization off of the tax dollars from us within the middle class has gone far enough. We can no longer afford to support them through privatization and the transfer of wealth that has occurred through those efforts. Put prison operations back where they belong - under the operation of state authorities only. Take back our jobs by stopping the use of inmate labor in manufacturing. All of this must be done and done quickly if we are to remain a truly "Free" and democratic nation - and society.

Originally posted to Bob Sloan on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 02:47 PM PST.

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