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(the Gulag, cont’d.) Politics,Policies,Prisons : The Business of Detention (Case study)

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I’ll be honest. I am VERY concerned about how far down the Road to Serfdom we already are.

Why spend all that energy on human rights, civil rights, legal rights, due process, when who one is dealing with is a calculating policymaker/investor (the door rotates in and out of private and public sectors) who knows a good — business- deal when he (or occasionally, she) sees one?

I found “Corrections Corporation of America” and the Lamar Alexander (Tennessee) connection. I retain a lot of information upstairs, even though words may come out crossed occasionally. I notice anomalies. Or just things that interest me. When I looked at the richest Congresspersons roll, long ago, and the Obamas came out 10th (probably 2008), counting assets, and spouses assets as well — Mr. Alexanders interest in a huge work-site Child Care provider made an impression (see comment to most recent post). OK, so why would someone so interested in child care also be interested in prisons?
The topic of lockup relates to family court matters because violation of law, or contempts, or crimes, obviously could lead there. My research process is real simple. I google, read, and pay attention. It’s not rocket science.

I recognize good reporting when I see it. (A few awards doesn’t hurt either). Too bad more court reform people wouldn’t form the investigative journalism, FOIA, and looking at the Financials habit that these Columbia University journalism grads did:

Business Of Detention Home

Washington, D.C. – CCA plays the game of politics like a pro. After all forty percent of its revenue comes from federal contracts.

The company backs key politicians who support an immigration crackdown, and has intensified its lobbying in order to influence those still on the fence. For good measure, it hires former prison and immigration officials to coordinate its federal relations.

(from interactive graph on site, slide 3 of 4). Notice, graph source is from “opensecrets.org”, another good resource.

“The rest of CCA’s political giving went directly to lawmakers who determine detention funding through their positions on the appropriations committee in the House and Senate. In 2008, the committees approved a $2.3 billion budget for ICE detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants, including funds for an additional 4,870 new beds. More than half the senators backed by CCA’s PAC are on the appropriations committee, and four of them are on the subcommittee on Homeland Security.”

Maybe some mothers and fathers who want Family Court Reform ought to spend a little more browsing (and submitting testimony) time on the House Ways and Means Committee, where many programs affecting the courts are. (see some of my posts). CCA knew right where to go to get their policies through.

One CCA-backed appropriations committee member deserves special mention. Former Tennessee governor, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) received $31,200 from 2003-2008 from the Nashville-based company and its employees, spouses and their subsidiaries, according to Federal Election Commission documents. Alexander’s history of supporting CCA includes endorsing its failed bid in 1985 to take over the Tennessee prison system.

In the House, CCA’s PAC gave $5,000 to Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), who sits on the Subcommittee on Homeland Security Appropriations. Another $2,500 went to fellow committee member John Carter (R-TX) who is also on the Committee on Homeland Security. Carter’s district is where CCA’s T. Don Hutto family residential center is located. He is a major advocate for “a system of 100 percent catch and return.”

Republican members of the House Immigration Reform Caucus reaped CCA’s support for backing the Secure America though Verification and Enforcement Act. The Act calls for expediting “the removal of illegal aliens by expanding detention capacity.

I have a question. Suppose, very hypothetically, all illegal aliens (that’s people…) WERE removed? Then what about all that prison capacity? Hmmm??? Maybe another Kids for Cash scenario? (As if aspects of the child protective services, and foster care incentives, and child support agency system(s) weren’t already this…)

WELL, some people – shareholders — wanted to know what was going on with all this money:

In 2007, the company fought a shareholder resolution that requested semi-annual reports on the company’s political contributions and expenditures.

“Absent a system of accountability, corporate executives are free to use company assets for political objectives that are not shared by and may be inimical to the interests of a company and its shareholders,” argued Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Investment Program, who introduced the failed measure to force CCA to disclose payments it makes to trade associations, political recipients and soft money entities such as 527s.

To influence lawmakers who did not receive direct donations, CCA has spent millions on lobbyists. They got what they asked for.

And we even got a corporate (CCA) counsel taking a spin at a judgeship in Tennessee. That should help:

CCA’s general counsel, Gustavus Puryear IV, could give the revolving door another turn. Puryear made headlines this year when President Bush nominated him for a federal judge seat in the Middle District of Tennessee, where CCA is headquartered. Puryear has worked as a speech writer for Vice President Dick Cheney. He testified during a Senate hearing that he would recuse himself from cases involving the company.

WELL, this is just a flavor. Not only does this subject matter overlap with family court, but take note of these TWO students’ masters’ thesis project.  The same principles apply in organizations which are close to the federal faucet through HHS (see “What Decade Are These Stores?” post.). I notice that the Loop21.com article noticed a n Arizona connection. (bottom of last post)

from their ABOUT BD link — and I also added this link to my blogroll:

Our desire was to create an innovative way to present the business of privatized detention services — using solid reporting skills and pairing that up with video and interactive info graphics. This was also an experiment for us in creating a platform for a news product, that largely went under reported in mainstream news when we started the Corrections Corporation of America investigative project in late 2007. That project became the first investigative-new media project for the University and has since won the Melvin Mencher Award for Superior Reporting and James A. Wechsler Award for National Reporting, and a finalist at the 2009 SXSW Interactive Awards.

This link is to a “money.cnn” report focusing on Arizona, where a bid was made to privatize the entire state’s prisons.

According to research firm IBISWorld USA, private corrections is a $22.7 billion industry with an annual growth rate in the last half-decade of 4.7%. While growth slowed from 2009 to 2010, projections for the industry remain largely optimistic.

The prison population continues to grow regardless of what the economic conditions are,” says George Van Horn, senior analyst at IBISWorld.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of federal inmates housed in private facilities jumped nearly 14% between 2000 and 2007, and nearly 6% between 2007 and 2008.

Even so, the federal government nor any other state has gone as far as Arizona has in the march toward prison privatization. Last fall, Governor Brewer signed a law calling for the privatization of all the state’s prisons, should a private contractor offer an upfront bid of $100 million. This March, the law was repealed because no private company made a bid.

A prison too far?

But with the recent escapes, officials in Arizona and elsewhere have started to question the use of private correctional facilities. When Arizona’s privatization bill passed, the state’s director of corrections, Charles L. Ryan, took the unusual step of writing a letter to Governor Brewer expressing concern.

“[The bill] seeks to attempt something never experienced in the nation: Privatizing a state’s entire prison system. This is bad public policy,” the letter read.

“This escape has put everything in stark relief,” says Goddard. “A private company has an acceptable level of loss. In the case of violent offenders, I don’t believe the public does or should tolerate any incidence of failure.

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  1. I regularly (of late) check Courthouse Forum news, because it reports filings nationwide. It has a variety of topics and is well reported: http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/10/19/40740.htm

    This one just out on “Corrections Corporation of America,” private company contracting with the US Government:

    (Sourcewatch.org summary):

    Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, is the largest for-profit prison corporation in the U.S. [1] CCA runs over 60 prisons in about 20 U.S. states plus Washington, DC. CCA has contracts with all three federal corrections agencies (Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement), nearly half of all states and more than a dozen local municipalities.[1] It is the fifth-largest corrections system in the U.S., with only the federal government and three states having larger prison systems.[1] The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange with the symbol CXW. In 2006, revenue was $1.3 billion with profits of $105 million.[2][1]


    AUSTIN (CN) – Sexual abuse of detainees is rampant at the immigration jail the Corrections Corporation of America runs for the federal government in Taylor, Texas, three women say in a federal class action. Their attorneys say it’s part of a pattern that has produced nearly 200 reports of sexual abuse inside immigration jails nationwide.
    The three Doe plaintiffs say their sexual assaults inside the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor are “consistent with a pattern of deliberate indifference toward sexual assault in immigration detention and denying victims access to immigration relief and civil redress.”
    They sued officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Corrections Corporation of America – the nation’s largest private prison company; and Williamson County, Texas.
    Citing widespread reports of sexual abuse inside immigration prisons, and ICE’s failure to police itself or its private contractors, the ACLU and others in June 2010 urged the Department of Homeland Security to establish external oversight of ICE’s detention system.
    In the present class action, ACLU attorneys say that documents obtained through FOIA requests show nearly 200 allegations of sexual abuse of immigration detainees across the country since 2007.
    The three lead plaintiffs tell similar stories of sexual assault at the hands of defendant Donald Dunn, an escort officer and resident supervisor at Hutto.
    The women sued on their own behalf and for all female immigrants who were detained at Hutto between October 2009 and October this year, were transported from Hutto by the defendants and were sexually assaulted or abused by male officers.
    Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) operates the Hutto immigration jail on contract with ICE. Hutto became an all-women detention center in late 2009, after detained families were transferred to other facilities, due to growing concerns about treatment of children at Hutto.
    The government pays CCA almost $3 million a month to house a minimum of 461 detainees per day, according to the complaint.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    The facility was not safe for children, but they left women there. How safe was it going to be for women?
    Simlarly — in family law situations, it is assumed somehow that domestic violence towards a woman is not relevant to treatment of children?


    Sexual Harassment is also common at the “top” of society as another article shows, re: New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
    NJ Chamber called a nest of Drunken Vipers

    TRENTON, N.J. (CN) – Good ol’ boys at the top levels of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce habitually get drunk on the job and sexually harass women who work for them, and when a new president, a woman, fired one of the chief harassers, the boys got together and found him “a plum and prestigious position in Governor Chris Christie’s Office,” then fired the president, and a vice president who complained of the harassment, the former VP says.
    Carol Gabel sued the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and four of its top officers in a discrimination and harassment complaint in Mercer County Court. The individual defendants are senior vice president Dana Egreckzy, president Thomas Bracken, Chairman of the Board Jeffrey Scheininger, and former Chairman of the Board Dennis Bone.
    Gabel says she worked at the Chamber from 199 until she was fired on March 16 this year.
    “The sexual harassment of plaintiff grew out of the ‘Old Boy’ network and ‘culture of intoxication’

    . . . .
    And in facilities (this, Texas) for the disabled as well:


    HOUSTON (CN) – The year after Texas promised the U.S. Justice Department it would end abuses at its state-run homes for the disabled, a state employee beat an autistic man to death in a state care center, where nurses failed to check his vital signs for two days “as he lay dying from internal injuries,” the man’s parents say.
    Larry Taylor and Pamela Varnell sued the Richmond State Supported Living Center in Federal Court on behalf of the estate of their son David Taylor.
    The Richmond State Supported Living Center aka The Richmond State School is one of 13 such facilities operated in Texas by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.
    The late David Taylor was born prematurely at 26 weeks, and his disabilities were so severe “he never learned to speak or to communicate in any reliable way,” his parents say. He was diagnosed with “severe autism and profound mental retardation,” and admitted to the Richmond State School when he was 22 years old.
    “Sometime thereafter the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) began a statewide investigation of Texas state schools regarding allegations of abuse, neglect and violations of patient’s rights.
    “On December 1, 2008 the DOJ issued their findings noting that the Richmond State School was cited for 36 deficiencies,” the complaint states, citing, to begin: “a. Failure to ensure clients’ rights were protected, including the right to be free from abuse, neglect, and mistreatment;
    b. Failure to ensure that clients were free from unnecessary restraints and received active treatment …”
    The Richmond State School also was cited for understaffing, poor training, failure to investigate abuse, and failure to provide adequate health care.
    The Richmond State School, and other state facilities, settled with the Justice Department in 2009 by agreeing to stop the abuses.
    “Unfortunately, the State of Texas and Richmond SSLC failed to live up to their end of the settlement agreement,” Taylor’s parents say.
    According to the complaint: “Sometime in the period around October 6th or 7th in 2010, when there was a paucity of supervision, David was violently beaten by Rivers Glover, an SSLC employee who was without appropriate training and without necessary support.
    “After the incident David remained helplessly in his bed, simply dying from his internal injuries.


    October 25, 2011 at 10:28 am

  2. (My comments to my own posts are a shortcut to expanding the post). I found a site http://www.ifeveryoneknew.com/ (5 Facts that Everyone Should Know).

    The prison system in the United States is a profit-making industry. Private corporations operate over 200 facilities nationwide and are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
    The War on Drugs, started by President Nixon in 1971, played a major role in the quickly expanding prison population in the United States. A decade later, while other arrests rose 28% during the 1980’s, drug-related arrests rose 126%. To help cope with the large influx of new prisoners, the full operation of a Tennessee jail was contracted to a private corporation in 1984. The following year, Corrections Corp. of America, an industry leader valued at over $2.9 billion, attempted to take over full operation of every facility in the state – only to be foiled due to strong opposition from the state government and public employees.

    CCA houses over 80,000 inmates in more than 60 facilities across the US.
    Corrections Corp. of America and other private contractors later become members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit 501(c)(3) association that advocates “tough on crime” legislation that favors longer sentencing and higher incarceration rates. By 1999, with the prison population still rising, Attorney General Janet Reno announced that seven new federal prisons would be built within the year – five of which that would be privately owned & operated. This trend continued until the US had the highest incarceration rate in the world – 754 inmates per 100k residents as of 2008. This is roughly 600% that of the rest of the civilized world, with England and Wales having 148, and Australia 126 inmates per 100k residents. To keep the money rolling in, Corrections Corp. of America spent $970,000 and GEO Group spent $660,000 influencing legislation in 2010 alone. As of 2010, private corporations house over 99,000 inmates in 260 facilities nationwide, with the large majority of them held by Corrections Corp. of America exclusively. In their Feb 2011 press release, Corrections Corp. of America CEO Damon Hininger stated, “…we are pleased our populations have remained strong, in excess of the 80,000 inmate milestone we surpassed late in 2010.” With the 3.2% increase in inmate population over the previous year, Corrections Corp. of America was able to make $511.26M in gross profit for that fiscal year alone, earning the CEO over $3,000,000 in compensation.

    Since the United States also incarcerates more of its juvenile population than any other country in the world, this trend continued in juvenile detention as well. Like their adult counterparts, juvenile detention centers also push for higher incarceration rates – some to the point of bribing judges. In 2009, PA Child Care & Western PA Child Care paid two judges $2.6m to send more than 2,000 juveniles to their facilities. Dubbed the “Kids for Cash” scandal by the media, the kids sentenced rarely had representation in court and were imprisoned for crimes that almost never result in incarceration. For instance, Hillary Transue was sentenced to three months at a detention center for mocking her assistant principal on MySpace.

    (there’s more).

    There are many outreach programs to incarcerated fathers, who if behind on child support, can be persuaded or recruited into various programs which receive also federal subsidies. See Michael Hayes of Texas Attorney General’s Office “Office of Family Initiatives” (if he’s still there) waxing eloquent on the combo of Access Visitation & “SIIP” grants. Randijames.com summarized it pretty well and that post has links.

    I’m just passing through and wanted the information on this post. The organization “ALEC” represents a 501(c)3 corp. with very, very powerful members on it, including state legsilators. the site ‘SOURCEWATCH.org” bears the title “ALEC Exposed” and sheds new light on many of our strange, and unprofitable to normal citizens policies.

    WHen America becomes the world’s largest incarcerator of human beings, this indicates plans for the country which fit into a global plan; it’s beyond time to take a look at that. Other recommended reading — books by economist Susan George, talks about the IMF and how countries are stripped of their assets, and turned from self-reliant to exporting. Think about WHY the US is so materialistic and consumer oriented (and remember one of the 5 facts above includes who owns major media outlets).

    The profit is always going towards the corporations and away from people who are NOT running, owning, forming, buy & selling, etc. businesses. The tax system (designed by the rich) also affects the flow of wealth, obviously….


    October 25, 2011 at 10:36 am

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