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States Starting to Dump Private Prison Companies

Here’s a bit of good news that I hope becomes a major trend. Four states in the last few weeks have voided contracts with the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the country, over substandard conditions and safety concerns.

Idaho cut ties with the corporation on Wednesday, which turned the state’s largest prison into a violent hellhole inmates called “Gladiator School.” Earlier this year, CCA was caught understaffing the prison and using prison gangs to control the population. The company admitted to falsifying nearly 4,800 hours of staffing records to squeeze more money out of the state for nonexistent security work. Shift logs at the prison showed the same security guards working for 2 to 3 days at a time without breaks.

Last week, Texas closed two CCA prisons, including one with a history of suspicious prisoner deaths. One lawsuit alleges prison staff ignored an inmate’s cries for medical assistance, forcing her to give birth in a prison toilet to a baby that died four days later.

CCA was also booted from Mississippi earlier this month after multiple deadly riots over poor food and sanitation, lack of medical care, and mistreatment by guards. Mississippi is hiring another private prison company, MTC, to take over CCA’s contract — even though MTC runs another prison with the highest inmate assault rate in the state. Mississippi already terminated contracts with the other major private prison company, GEO Group, after it was found guilty of turning a juvenile facility into “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts.” Despite this record, the state is apparently not ready to give up on private prisons.

Private control of prisons should be outlawed nationwide. Let’s hope this begins the process of making that happen.

Comments

  1. says

    Since they were caught committing crimes, those execs responsible will be prosecuted and sent to a government-run prison, right?

    Right?

  2. pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile says

    i am not even surprised to read this. when profits are your first priority, some people will suffer.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    But everything is cheaper and better with the free market! Besides, these are PRISONS were talking about, not luxery hotels! They’re supposed to harsh and dirty, and a well-deserved shiving or rape is part-and-parcel of justice.

    You soft-on-crime socialists will never understand!

    /snark

  4. jolly says

    I am sure that since corporations are people, this corporation will spend a long time in prison.

  5. Don Williams says

    The Founding Fathers modeled the USA on ancient Rome — and we are following the pattern of Rome’s decline and fall. The Christian priest Salvian, writing circa 440 AD, explained why the common Roman citizen WELCOMED the Germanic invaders with relief:

    “first, to speak of affection and mutual charity (which, our Lord teaches, is the chief virtue, saying, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another “), almost all barbarians, at least those who are of one race and kin, love each other, while the Romans persecute each other. For what citizen does not envy his fellow citizen ? What citizen shows to his neighbor full charity?

    [The Romans oppress each other with exactions] nay, not each other : it would be quite tolerable, if each suffered what he inflicted. It is worse than that ; for the many are oppressed by the few, who regard public exactions as their own peculiar right, who carry on private traffic under tile guise of collecting the taxes.

    And this is done not only by nobles, but by men of lowest rank; not by judges only, but by judges’ subordinates. For where is the city ­ even the town or village ­ which has not as many tyrants as it has curials ? . . . What place is there, therefore, as I have said, where the substance of widows and orphans, nay even of the saints, is not devoured by the chief citizens? . . .

    None but the great is secure from the devastations of these plundering brigands, except those who arw themselves robbers.

    [Nay, the state has fallen upon such evil days that a man cannot be safe unless he is wicked] Even those in a position to protest against the iniquity which they see about them dare not speak lest they make matters worse than before.

    So the poor are despoiled, the widows sigh, the orphans are oppressed, until many of them, born of families not obscure, and liberally educated, flee to our enemies that they may no longer suffer the oppression of public persecution.

    They doubtless seek Roman humanity among the barbarians, because they cannot bear barbarian inhumanity among the Romans.

    And although they differ from the people to Whom they flee in manner and in language; although they are unlike as regards the fetid odor of the barbarians’ bodies and garments, yet they would rather endure a foreign civilization among the barbarians than cruel injustice among the Romans.

    So they migrate to the Goths, or to the Bagaudes, or to some other tribe of the barbarians who are ruling everywhere, and do not regret their exile. For they would rather live free under an appearance of slavery than live as captives tinder an appearance of liberty. The name of Roman citi’en, once so highly esteemed and so dearly bought, is now a thing that men repudiate and flee from. . . . ”

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/salvian1.html

  6. Don Williams says

    Meanwhile, back at the Ranch….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/05/national/05CHAP.html

    “WASHINGTON, May 4 — Groups promoting extremist brands of Islam have gained a foothold in American prisons, and counterterrorism officials believe Al Qaeda are likely to try to use the prisons “to radicalize and recruit inmates,” according to a Justice Department investigation. “

  7. eric says

    Maybe a very well established governor can shift it back from private to public, but honestly I think its going to be very difficult to make it happen. I think MI’s approach (shifting between companies every time a politician needs someone to take a fall) is far more likely as an outcome. The first politician that suggests increasing taxes to spend more on prison inmates is going to get hammered hard by their opponent.

  8. John Pieret says

    Their facilities sucked so bad that even Idaho, Texas and Mississippi noticed? Wow!

  9. slc1 says

    Re Don Williams @ #6

    Very disappointing that ole Don isn’t blaming the decline and fall of the American Empire on Haim Saban.

  10. slc1 says

    Re Don Williams @ #6

    Just for the information of the readers, ole Don knows all about the prison system in the US, at least the federal slammers. He learned it from his asshole buddy Richard Steven Hack, former inmate at the Leavenworth Federal Slammer for 9 years for armed bank robbery.

  11. mx89 says

    Who on earth is Don Williams?

    ..I remember that judge sentencing children to prison in exchange for private prison cash payments. At some point I would expect the idea that not everything is best run with a profit motive would catch on, but apparently not. I guess the fact private prisons actually cost more and have terrible social effects can be covered up with a little bit of lobbying money (okay, actually millions).

  12. says

    The only reason Dawson State Jail was closed was because of development projects along the Trinity River near downtown Dallas. Private developers are after the property where the jail is located. Just across the street is Lew Sterrett Justice Center which houses the Dallas County Jail. It was built 20 years ago, and has been added onto, and upgraded through the years. Now after the closing of Dawson, there is talk of the jail being old and obselete, all for private development.

    No doubt Dawson was a hell hole, but had it not been for the Trinity River Park, the state would not have taken the action it did. It cares nothing for prisoners. If you need proof, look up Tennessee Colony-Gurney Unit. That will tell you how much( or how little) the state cares about conditions in the jails.

  13. Abby Normal says

    Things may be a little out of hand at the moment. But the free market should correct for this. Once a prison gets some bad Yelp reviews, prisoners will start selecting other destinations for their incarceration needs.

  14. slc1 says

    Re MX89 @ #13

    Don Williams is from Western Virginia and currently resides in the Philadelphia area. He an engineering graduate of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. He used to comment over at Matthew Yglesias’ blog and showed up here last March. He used to be characterized as the resident Bolshevik over there but, perhaps, Trotskyite might be more accurate. Ole Don likes him some conspiracy theories. For example, he insists hat the Civil War was fought because Northern tycoons wanted the coal mines in West Virginia, not because of slavery or import duties. He also blames David Lloyd George for the Holocaust and Bibi Netanyahu for 9/11.

    Actually I think that ole Don is a pretty smart fellow, just a little mashugana.

  15. erichoug says

    I have to agree with the people above, as a Texan. If the conditions in the prison were so bad that the Texas Department of Corrections considered them sub-standard there isn’t any doubt that they were absolute hell holes.

    God on ya boys. Keep kicking the private prisons out. Prisons should not be a profitable enterprise.

  16. Don Williams says

    Re slc at 17:

    Smart enough to use the second most common name in the English language as my user name,
    Slc. One that returns 3.1 million links to a country western singer if the security forces google me.

    My real name is David Wolfenstein –but don’t tell anyone.

  17. grumpyoldfart says

    Looks like it’s time for Corrections Corporation to start greasing a few palms. Government contracts don’t come cheap.

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