Crickets, or what the Industrial Authority didn’t say about the private prison

Silence speaks volumes. Your tax-supported Industrial Authority wants a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia.

After Tuesday’s conversation with VLCIA Executive Director Andrea Schruijer, I went to Thursday’s Industrial Authority board meeting expecting to hear something from the board about the private prison. What I heard:


The only thing a board member said about it was Chairman Roy Copeland reminding me that the board didn’t answer questions in Citizens Wishing to be Heard.

Earlier, Col. Rickets did say that the current contract with CCA for the private prison expires March 13th, and that meanwhile CCA can either request a third extension or CCA could send a Notice to Proceed (NTP) to VLCIA before March 13th. Remember, CCA has, according to the contract, CCA has

“absolute discretion”
for issuing that NTP.

Col. Ricketts added that in staff’s discussions with CCA, CCA had indicated they were mulling it over internally, and VLCIA should “stand by” for CCA’s next move.

That’s right, your local Industrial Authority, whose staff and land purchases are funded by your tax dollars, should stand by waiting for a private prison company to tell them what to do.

And the Industrial Authority board’s silence is an answer: they said nothing different from their previous vote for the contract to bring in this private prison; nothing different from their previous acceptance of the first and second option extensions; and nothing in objection to what Col. Ricketts said.

So your tax-supported Industrial Authority wants a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia.

Do you want that? Do you want a private prison with fewer guards per prisoner than a public prison with higher risks of inmate violence and escapes? Do you want to pay more to lock people up than it would cost to send them to college? Do you want to invest in a private prison when the prison population has peaked and people everywhere are realizing we can’t afford to lock up so many people while cutting education funding? Do you want to end up with an empty white elephant prison plant? Or, worse, do you want yet another prison in Lowndes County, giving us all the image of a prison colony, driving away the kinds of industry we do want? Meanwhile renting out prisoners for practically nothing to compete with local people who need jobs? Do you want that?

If not, all the same contact information for VLCIA still works. I handed over more paper petition signatures yesterday to Andrea Schruijer. Chairman Roy Copeland acknowledged earlier in the day in conversation that he knew more signatures kept coming in, and he got some of the telephone calls.

Keep those calls and signatures and letters going, and maybe the VLCIA board could still change its mind. They’re good at special called meetings, so they could still hold one before March 13th and say they cancel the contract. Or do what they did about the biomass plant, and send a delegation to the contracted company and say they want out. They pretended back then not to care about biomass opposition, but we learned they did. So the more objections from the community, the more likely they will do something.

That plus maybe it’s time to contact CCA directly. We know CCA doesn’t like community opposition and admitted to the SEC that it makes siting a prison difficult.

And remember the Valdosta City Council and the Lowndes County Commission are implicated in this private prison decision just as deep as the Industrial Authority. Remember who let the cat out of the biomass bag: County Commission Chairman Ashley Paulk. Who, by the way, is on the Georgia Board of Corrections, so he has influence on prison issues at the state level.

More about all that in later posts.


6 thoughts on “Crickets, or what the Industrial Authority didn’t say about the private prison

  1. Barbara Stratton

    All this secrecy is just part of the new governmental takeover of business enterprise processes and citizen input is not part of the game. Are you aware the Land Bank Authority is building a huge facility for Dupont on St. Augustine Rd. but none of the signs reference Dupont? Why is the Land Bank Authority in the business of overseeing construction of a private business? Since this is located within an industrial park area we can be certain the VLCIA is involved. There was public mention of a new Dupont warehouse facility being constructed on Rocky Ford Rd. by Durocky Road, LLC back in December. But there is zero public reference to the new facility under construction on St. Augustine Rd.
    A citizen’s committee needs to be formed to keep an eye on the Land Bank Authority because they seem to think they are exempt from state Sunshine Law rules. In addition Sen. Golden has a bill SB 284 introduced into the state senate that will allow the establishment of regional land bank authorities. We citizens never consented to all this regional government that is being forced on us. If we can’t keep up with what the local land bank authority is doing just imagine what a regional land bank authority will be able to accomplish with zero public knowledge and input. This is one of the most dangerous pseudo-government entities ever and it needs to be addressed from the citizen level immediately. I applied for a citizen vacancy on the Land Bank Authority, but of course those positions are reserved for politically supportive individuals. Per the sunshine laws, which Sam Olens has sworn allegiance to, a citizen review committee would have to be advised of the meetings that are currently never publicized.

  2. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    In the case of the private prison, the government body (the Industrial Authority) gave “absolute discretion” to the private company (CCA). Seems to me you got a sign backwards in your equation. What we have in this case is private enterprise taking over government.

  3. Barbara Stratton

    Private enterprise can not take over government unless government desires the trade off. Any time government and business blur the separation that should exist kick backs and crony capatilism arrangements are given the medium to exacerbate and tax payer interests may suffer. If government thinks it beneficial to privatize any aspect of government it should only be done when there can be total delineation between the two, not a public/private partnership. Even though the CCA contract says it is not a partnership there are still obligations between them that look like a partnership to me such as guaranteeing the prison will remain 90% full. I observed the military experiment with privitizing Civil Engineering on bases by letting private companies take over. The problem is it still remained a partnership because tax payer monies have to fund the construction projects and Civil Engineering is just a go between entity. I could write a book about all the creative kick backs and conflicts of interest I witnessed from this arrangement. The local military base did not enter into a privitization agreement and there are no such problems there. You just can’t put that much temptation in the hands of men or women, government or private business.

  4. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    And providing the kickbacks in crony capitalism that would make government want to hand over to private corporations would be… private corporations. Indeed, we need a constitutional amendment for separation of corporation and state. -jsq

  5. Barbara Stratton

    Small businesses and government officials love crony capitalism and kickbacks just as much as large corporations do if their personal greed exceeds their integrity. Large corporations have deeper pockets to lobby and intice,as George Soros and Bill Gates well know, but any public/private partnership is anathema to free enterprise. These partnerships will destroy fair bidding practices, legalize and subsidize good old boy crony capitalism systems, create narrowing selection gates for small emerging business opportunities, and crumble our free enterprise foundations.

  6. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    Indeed corporations of all sizes can indulge in kickbacks.
    I don’t agree that all public-private partnerships are bad,
    but many of them turn into just legalized crony capitalism.
    Funny how you sneeze Soros all the time, but you never mention the Koch brothers.

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