Category Archives: GDOC

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:

Crickets.

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 Continue reading

CCA offers to buy prisons from 48 states

Desperation or disaster capitalism by CCA? Trying to get as entrenched as possible before more people catch on that private prisons don’t save money for states?

Andrew Jones wrote for Raw Story yesterday, Private prison company offers to buy 48 states’ prisons

In exchange for keeping at least a 90 percent occupancy rate, the private prison company Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has sent a letter to 48 states offering to manage their prisons for the low price of $250 million per year, according to a letter obtained by the Huffington Post.

The company says it’s a way for states to help manage their current budget crisis. “We believe this comes at a timely and helpful juncture and hope you will share our belief in the benefits of the purchase-and-manage model,” CCA chief corrections officer Harley Lappin said in the letter.

What does CCA want in return?
…a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least 90 percent full….
So if a state, such as Georgia, was thinking of sentencing reform, or of getting on with decriminalizing drugs, either would become quite difficult after signing such contracts.

Here’s CCA’s offer letter, complete with a blank to fill in for the state.

Maybe CCA is realizing that it’s coming to the end of its rope on its old tricks, such as these, pointed out by Chris Kirkham in HufffintongPost yesterday, Continue reading

How to end the epidemic of incarceration

There are historical reasons for why we lock up so many people, some going back a century or more, and some starting in 1980 and 2001. Knowing what they are (and what they are not) lets us see what we can do to end the epidemic of incarceration that is damaging education and agriculture in Georgia.

Adam Gopnik wrote for the New Yorker dated 30 January 2012, The Caging of America: Why do we lock up so many people?

More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives. Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today—perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system—in prison, on probation, or on parole—than were in slavery then.
In Georgia, 1 in 13 of all adults is in jail, prison, probation, or parole: highest in the country (1 in 31 nationwide). Georgia is only number 4 in adults in prison, but we’re continuing to lock more people up, so we may get to number 1 on that, too.
Over all, there are now more people under “correctional supervision” in America—more than six million—than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height. That city of the confined and the controlled, Lockuptown, is now the second largest in the United States.

The accelerating rate of incarceration over the past few decades is just as startling as the number of people jailed: in 1980, there were about two hundred and twenty people incarcerated for every hundred thousand Americans; by 2010, the number had more than tripled, to seven hundred and thirty-one. No other country even approaches that. In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education.

And we can’t afford that, especially not when we’re cutting school budgets. That graph of education vs. incarceration spending is for California. Somebody should do a similar graph for Georgia.

The article does get into why we lock up so many people: Continue reading

Map of prisons in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC) does not provide a map of prisons in Georgia; at least not that I’ve been able to find. CCA does not provide a map of its private prisons, either. This omission seems odd for an industry that brags about how good it is economically.

But someone has composed this google map that gives the big picture. I don’t know if this map is current or accurate, but the spot checks I’ve made show markers for real prisons. Did you know there were so many?

Apparently,

  • the reddish circles are county prisons;
  • the red arrows are state prisons for men like Valdosta State Prison;
  • the yellow arrows are state prisons for women (Pulaski) or juveniles (Arrendale), except Washington State Prison appears to be back to housing men;
  • the blue arrows are Regional Youth Detention Centers (RYDC);
  • and the green arrows are at least some of CCA’s private prisons,

Prisons are bad economics, producing no longterm improvement in employment, and risking closure, leaving communities with expensive white elephants. We don’t need a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia. Spend those tax dollars on rehabilitation and education instead. Follow this link to petition the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority.

-jsq

Rural prisons: economic bane or bust?

Some interesting points about prisons from a Georgia blogger.

Keith McCants posted Wednesday in Peanut Politics, Prisons as Economic Development: Boom or Bust for Rural Georgia? In Georgia today there are more prisoners than farmers. And while most prisoners in Georgia are from urban communities, most prisons are now in rural areas with high levels of poverty & a unskilled, uneducated workforce. During the last two decades, the large-scale use of incarceration to solve social problems has combined with the fall-out of globalization to produce an ominous trend: prisons have become a “growth industry” in rural Georgia, in fact Rural America.

Communities in isolated regions of the state began suffering from declines in farming, mining, timber-work and manufacturing are now begging for prisons to be built in their backyards. The economic restructuring that began in the troubled decade of the 1980s has had dramatic social and economic consequences for rural communities and small towns. Together the farm crises, factory closings, corporate downsizing, shift to service sector employment and the substitution of major regional and national chains for local, main-street businesses have triggered profound change in these areas. So, many rural areas have bought into prisons as a growth industry.

Some consequences are pretty obvious:

Many small rural towns have become dependent on an industry which itself is dependent on the continuation of crime-producing conditions.
Others may take more time to see: Continue reading

CCA charges inmates five days’ pay for one telephone minute

That’s $1 a day in pay and $5 a telephone minute. While CCA is collecting as much as $200 a day per inmate in your tax dollars and CCA’s CEO is compensated $3,266,387 from your tax dollars.

Amanda Peterson Beadle wrote for ThinkProgress 16 November 2011, Private Prison Charges Inmates $5 a Minute for Phone Calls While They Work for $1 a Day

Last year the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, received $74 million of taxpayers’ money to run immigration detention centers. Georgia, receives $200 a night for each of the 2,000 detainees it holds, and rakes in yearly profits between $35 million and $50 million.

Prisoners held in this remote facility depend on the prison’s phones to communicate with their lawyers and loved ones. Exploiting inmates’ need, CCA charges detainees here $5 per minute to make phone calls. Yet the prison only pays inmates who work at the facility $1 a day. At that rate, it would take five days to pay for just one minute.

They charge for food, too.

And remember, CCA profits from anti-immigration laws, at taxpayer expense:

Recent anti-immigration laws in Alabama (HB56) and Georgia (HB87) guarantee that neighbor facilities will have an influx of “product.” In the past few years, CCA has spent $14.8 million lobbying for anti-immigration laws to ensure they have continuous access to fresh inmates and keep their money racket going. In 2010 CCA CEO Damon T. Hininger received $3,266,387 in total compensation.
Private CEO profit for public injustice. Does that seem right to you?

We don’t need a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia. Spend those tax dollars on rehabilitation and education instead.

-jsq

Why a private prison would close: a majority of the American people favor legalizing marijuana use

For the first time ever, a majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana use, which is one of the major dangers to CCA’s private prison business plan, according to CCA itself.

Emily Ekins wrote for Reason-RUPE 18 October 2011, New Gallup Survey: A Majority of Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana Use

The latest Gallup poll shows a record high of 50 percent of Americans in favor of legalizing marijuana use. This follows a consistent upward trend, picking up speed in 2006 when 36 percent of Americans favored marijuana legalization.

CCA wrote in its 2010 Annual Report to the SEC: Continue reading

Gov. Deal: the bad, prison slave labor competing with free labor

Gov. Nathan Deal said he was for free-enterprise chickens, but he wants the government to supply prison slave labor to grow them.

Continuing Gov. Deal: the good, the ugly, and the bad on prisons, quoting again from David Rodock’s interview with Gov. Nathan Deal in today’s VDT.

The Bad

Remember Gov. Deal mentioned poultry operators as an illustration of his bogus point that government intervention is always bad? Well, I guess he forgot that when he answered this question:
THE TIMES: Your proposal to have probationers replace illegal immigrants for farm labor. Did that idea work? If it didn’t or it did, what’s going to happen next year during the picking season?

DEAL: “Well, it worked with some success. I think there was a great deal of skepticism about it on whether these people will work and there is a threat associated with their presence. We have to remember that probationers are not under arrest. They are free in our society.

Really? Except for little things like not being able to vote if they are felons, and having to pay their probation officers. But back to the Gov.: Continue reading

Private prisons unaccountable —ACLU

Found on the ACLU blog of rights.

Azadeh Shahshahani wrote for the AJC 11 June 2009, Private prisons for immigrants lack accountability, oversight

On March 11, a 39-year-old man held in detention at the Stewart Detention Center, a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in southwest Georgia, died at a hospital in Columbus.
That’s in Lumpkin, west of Americus, south of Columbus.
To this day, the immediate cause of Roberto Martinez Medina’s death remains unclear (a press release pronounced the cause of death as “apparent natural causes”).

Last month, Leonard Odom, 37, died at the Wheeler County Correctional Facility in south-central Georgia.

That’s in Alamo, GA, between Macon, Tifton, and Savannah.
Both facilities are operated by Corrections Corp. of America, which has a contract with the Department of Homeland Security to operate the Stewart center and one with the Georgia Department of Corrections to operate the one in Wheeler County.
So, what happened? Continue reading

Sounds like trouble is brewing down I-75. —Jim Galloway

What’s even more secretive than the Industrial Authority? Valdosta State Prison!

The AJC has noticed

Sounds like trouble is brewing down I-75. —Jim Galloway
that the VDT is getting serious about open records requests:
The Valdosta Daily Times’ Open Records request concerning violent incidents in the Valdosta State Prison was denied Monday.

The Department of Corrections (DOC) denied all requests in the Times’ Open Records filing, stating that, under Georgia law, the documents do not have to be released.

After receiving phone calls from concerned individuals who have knowledge of recent violent prison attacks, the Times submitted the Open Records request to Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens.

Kay Harris wrote that in the VDT today.

Curiously, the state doesn’t even provide a picture of the prison.

It’s enough to make you wonder what they have to hide.

Apparently the VDT wonders: Continue reading