Private companies are not subject to sunshine laws —VDT

The VDT reminds us of an important distinction in yesterday’s editorial, Citizens entitled to open government,
All governmental entities supported by tax dollars are subject to the laws. Private companies are not.
As the VDT knows better than anybody else around here, getting informaiton out of Valdosta State Prison or the Georgia Department of Correcions (GDOC) is very hard. The VDT has been trying to find out what’s going on at Valdosta State Prison for years now, and getting the runaround and hitting stone walls.

Florida has a law that says private prison operators have to comply with public records laws because they perform an inherently governmental function. Since we’ve already got Several CCA private prisons in Georgia, plus CCA runs ICE detention at the North Georgia Detention Center. So to the welcome rays of sunshine in HP 397 the legislature should add a legal requirement for private prison operators to obey sunshine laws.

And let’s not continue making the same bad mistake of privatizing prisons. Let’s reject the private prison our Industiral Authority wants CCA to build in Lowndes County, Georgia.

As the VDT points out:

Taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being spent by officials elected to represent them. When officials are reluctant to comply with requests, it raises legitimate concerns.
This prison is being pushed by an Industrial Authority that won’t publish its minutes, that has said as little as possible about “Project Excel” (the prison), and that changed its most recent board meeting date at the last minute. Let’s end the private prison secrecy. Let’s stop this sweetheart deal that would mostly profit CCA’s $3 million/year CEO and CCA’s stockholders at the expense of all of us in this community: higher risk of escape, better businesses driven away, and our taxes wasted locking people up when they could be spent on rehabilitation and education.

You can help Drive Away CCA: join us 5PM tomorrow, Tuesday March 6th 2012 at the prison site to drive the point home to the Industrial Authority offices. Even if you’re reading this after then, you can sign the petition, write a letter, or help in other ways.