Category Archives: GDOC

Prison gang violence

This is what eventually happens in a country with 5% of the world’s population yet 25% of the world’s prisoners, in a state that has 1 in 13 adults in the prison system (jail, prison, probation, or parole): prison violence the prisons can’t deal with, possibly including the mysterious violence at Valdosta State Prison. When we stop locking up so many people by ending the war on drugs, we’ll have plenty of money to adequately secure the few remaining real violent offenders.

Rhonda Cook wrote for the AJC Saturday, Gang violence in prison is increasingly deadly,

In a little more than 10 months, 12 inmates and a guard have been stabbed to death in Georgia prisons, a dramatic uptick in violence that law enforcement officials and human rights advocates agree points to increased gang activity.

“We cannot remember a time like this when we were getting this volume and severity of violence,” said Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which monitors prison violence.

People who go into such prisons, if they aren’t already violent, are likely to be taught to be violent, and some just don’t come back out. Yet those that do get out can be bad for the rest of us:

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Well loan and tap fees —Barbara Stratton @ Hahira 2012-08-02

Received yesterday on Hahira approved for water well loan by state. -jsq

It’s nice to know Hahira will get a break in interest, but tax payers will still have to pay back the loan. I missed the council meeting which is unusual for me. Does the video show anything about the fact some council members voted not to raise the tap fees for new construction which would certainly help pay back the loan instead of depending so much on tax monies? Developers should not be allowed to come in and make huge profits from new construction, then take their profits and let the citizens pay the price for increased water demands. Raising the one time tap fees would have distributed some of the costs to the developers who enjoy the profits from increased demands on the infrastructure and water usage.

-Barbara Stratton

Yes, we have video of the entire Hahira City Council meeting, which will be posted soon. LAKE is always happy to accept help in taking or labeling videos.


Hahira approved for water well loan by state

Parker Wallace wrote for GPB 1 August 2012, Water Program Awards Loans,

The Governor’s water supply program awarded funding to eight water supply projects across the state.

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and the Georgia Department of Community affairs announced more than 90 million dollars in loans.

They’re aimed at helping finance water supply infrastructure.

The cities of Hahira and Vienna were approved for loans to construct new water supply wells. Newton, Oconee and Walton counties were all awarded 40 year loans to construct new reservoirs.

A bit more detail in the Montgomery Advertiser 2 August 2012, Funding flows to Georgia reservoir, water projects,

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Cook County schools furloughing teachers

Cook county schools have a budget shortfall problem, and they think they can solve it only by furloughing teachers. Remind me again why we're wasting $1 billion a year on prisons, including private prisons for the profit of private prison shareholders and executives (like CCA CEO Damon Hininger's $3 million a year) and we're furloughing teachers instead?

Greg Gullberg wrote for WCTV 10 May 2012, Teachers in Cook County Face Furloughs,

The Cook County School System is facing a $472,352 deficit. Superintendent Lance Heard tells Eyewitness News reporter Greg Gullberg that the only way out may be to initiate system-wide furlough days and cutting jobs.

"We've done everything we can to maintain the level of education for the students that we've always had and we think we've been able to do that," said Superintendent Heard.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but 488 teachers, staff and administrators, may be facing furlough days next school year. Superintendent Heard hopes to limit them to three to five per employee.

"I would like to say also that when we do take furlough days, they are always none instructional days. The students do not miss any school," said Superintendent Heard.

Yet. Keep on in this direction and the students will be missing school. As it is, they just get less-prepared teachers, for less-effective teaching. But this is not Supt. Heard's fault.

Do we in Georgia want to prepare students for jail, or to succeed in life? Prisons cost we the taxpayers lots of money. Successful young people help pay for everything. Maybe we should choose successful young people, starting with education.


Ocilla prison nearly sold at auction: better due diligence would be a good idea

A business our Industrial Authority wanted to get us into still risks bankrupting Irwin County: a private prison. Maybe we should do better due diligence around here and invest in better business ventures.

AP reported 23 April 2012, South Ga. detention center nearly sold at auction,

A privately owned detention center that houses hundreds of illegal immigrants in south Georgia is struggling with finances, and narrowly avoided being auctioned this year.

How bad is it?

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Sentencing reform passed joint committee in Georgia

Remember the Georgia legislature was considering sentencing reform? Now it's passed the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Criminal Justice Reform.

Bill Rankin wrote for the AJC Tuesday, Sweeping changes to state sentencing laws passes committee,

A key legislative committee on Tuesday approved sweeping changes to Georgia's criminal justice system in a sentencing reform package intended to control prison spending and ensure costly prison beds are reserved for the state's most dangerous criminals.

Well, that sounds good!

But wait, this is cautious Georgia:

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Private prison is like biomass —Ashley Paulk

A deep silence came from the Industrial Authority yesterday, but GDOC board member Ashley Paulk compared the private prison to the biomass project.

I asked Lowndes County Commission Chair and Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC) board member Ashley Paulk if he had heard whether the private prison contract had been extended past yesterday’s deadline. He had not. However, he did volunteer that he had asked the GDOC board whether they had had any discussion about such a prison and they had not. Further, GDOC just last year approved a CCA prison in Jenkins County, Georgia, so why would another one be built here? Prison populations are decreasing in Georgia, Paulk said. He even said, “It’s like the biomass situation,” in that there’s no business model. It was Ashley Paulk who signaled the end of the biomass project. And he already signaled the end of the private prison project on the front page of the VDT and he told Eames Yates of WCTV 29 Feb 2012,

Until you have a customer, you won’t see a prison, and they don’t have a customer.
He said several times yesterday he did not expect the private prison to be built. And he went beyond what he had said before in explicitly likening the private prison project to the biomass project.

After last Thursday’s Valdosta City Council meeting, two different Valdosta City Council members and Mayor John Gayle all told me they had talked to various people and they didn’t expect CCA’s private prison to be built.

I hope they’re all correct about that.

But we all still wait for the Industrial Authority to tell us. They’re missing a huge potential positive PR opportunity by not holding a big press conference and taking credit for ending the private prison. They still could do that this morning.

Or they could keep claiming that community activism has no effect, even though it is activism that got both of those projects in the news and got people like Ashley Paulk to speak out. Maybe the Industrial Authority likes people to laugh at them. Me, I’d prefer an Industrial Authority that stood up for the people of this community.


VDT picks up private prison national article: the news is not good for CCA

The VDT, after following the local private prison story, picked up a national story about CCA’s offer to 48 state governors to buy their prisons. CCA is not getting any takers.

AP wrote 10 March 2012, Firm offers states cash for prisons,

Despite a need for cash, several states immediately slammed the door on the offer, a sign that privatizing prisons might not be as popular as it once was.
Doesn’t seem very popular around here. Most people still don’t seem to have heard about the proposed local private prison, but once they do, by far most say they are against it.
Prison departments in California, Texas and Georgia all dismissed the idea. Florida’s prison system said it doesn’t have the authority to make that kind of decision and officials in CCA’s home state of Tennessee said they aren’t reviewing the proposal. The states refused to say why they were rejecting the offer.
Good for Georgia and the other states! Georgia, where the prison population is already plummeting.
“Knowing the state government, it has to have something to do with the potential political backlash,” said Jeanne Stinchcomb, a criminal justice professor at Florida Atlantic University who has written two books on the corrections industry. “Privatization has reaped some negative publicity, so I can only assume that despite the possible benefits, there would be a price to pay for supporting it.”
Do tell….


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 Continue reading

Georgia prison population plummetting

In two years, the legislature went from denial to doing something about the unsupportable costs of Georgia’s prison system. The Georgia prison population is already plumetting, and will drop more. This makes a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia an even worse business deal. If it ever opens, it probably will close.

Two years ago the Georgia legislature was in denial, as Carrie Teegardin wrote for the AJC 4 April 2010, Georgia prison population, costs on rise,

As Georgia lawmakers desperately search for ways to slash spending, they are not debating an option taken by other states: cutting the prison population.

Georgia operates the fifth-largest prison system in the nation, at a cost of $1 billion a year. The job of overseeing 60,000 inmates and 150,000 felons on probation consumes 1 of every 17 state dollars.

The state’s prison population has jumped by more than a quarter in the past decade and officials expect the number of state inmates to continue to creep upward. Georgia has resorted to measures other than reducing the prison population to keep corrections spending under control.

19 months later, things had changed, as the Atlanta Business Chronic reported 15 December 2011, BJS: Georgia prison population drops in 2010, Continue reading