Texas still susceptible to private prison boondoggle

Even though Texas has cancelled some prisons and closed at least one private prison, private prison companies continue to push to privatize Texas prison services.

Mike Ward wrote 30 April in the Austin American-Statesman, Lawmakers chafe as push continues to privatize prison health care

“There is a push on to change the system we have, a system that is cost-effective and is a national model, even before we know whether there will be any real savings,” said House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden, R-Richardson .

“I think it’s something we should look at, to see what the real facts are, but I don’t think we should be rushing to a decision right now about this,” Madden said. “Most of the Legislature, I believe, think(s) that a decision this big — whether the system should be privatized — is one that we should make, not some board or agency.”

The American-Statesman first reported the privatization efforts in March and that top aides to Gov. Rick Perry have been involved in some of the meetings with vendors and lobbyists.

More from the article:

Skeptics say Texas could be embarking on the next privatization boondoggle.

“Privatization usually means significantly higher costs and poorer care,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, Texas director of Public Citizen, a government watchdog group. “This should be done in the open, not in the dark, after a full-blown analysis … or it will end up just being another corporate giveaway.”

Smith noted a string of privatization failures by state government in recent years: outsourcing of human services benefits enrollment, a massive data and information systems consolidation and the privately run leasing of state office space, among others.

“A change this large should be vetted completely in the open, not in back room,” Smith said. “Certainly, if this were vetted in public, it would probably get a big thumbs down.”

And the private prison boondoggle should get a big thumbs down in Georgia, too.