Tag Archives: Grover Norquist

Militarization of Police and Private Prison Profiteering: the Connection

Occupy UC Davis and the UC Davis Police have suddenly turned militarization of police from an obscure topic to a huge story with more than 3,000 stories found by google news. But what’s the connection between Mic check stops a police riot at UC Davis and CCA charges inmates five days’ pay for one telephone minute? The main cause of the militarization of police is also the main cause of the huge U.S. prison population (5% of the world’s population, 25% of the world’s prisoners: USA #1!). That cause is the failed War on Drugs.

Norm Stanager wrote for YES! Magazine (via AlterNet) 17 November 2011, Police Chief Who Oversaw 1999 WTO Crackdown Says Paramilitary Policing Is a Disaster

Then came day two. Early in the morning, large contingents of demonstrators began to converge at a key downtown intersection. They sat down and refused to budge. Their numbers grew. A labor march would soon add additional thousands to the mix.

“We have to clear the intersection,” said the field commander. “We have to clear the intersection,” the operations commander agreed, from his bunker in the Public Safety Building. Standing alone on the edge of the crowd, I, the chief of police, said to myself, “We have to clear the intersection.”


Because of all the what-ifs. What if a fire breaks out in the Sheraton across the street? What if a woman goes into labor on the seventeenth floor of the hotel? What if a heart patient goes into cardiac arrest in the high-rise on the corner? What if there’s a stabbing, a shooting, a serious-injury traffic accident? How would an aid car, fire engine or police cruiser get through that sea of people? The cop in me supported the decision to clear the intersection. But the chief in me should have vetoed it. And he certainly should have forbidden the indiscriminate use of tear gas to accomplish it, no matter how many warnings we barked through the bullhorn.

My support for a militaristic solution caused all hell to break loose. Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict. The “Battle in Seattle,” as the WTO protests and their aftermath came to be known, was a huge setback—for the protesters, my cops, the community.

Did anybody consider informing the protesters of the issues and asking for cooperation, or checking to see if there were alternate routes for emergency vehicles, or…. Hey, I’m not a professional emergency responder, but surely there must be a plan B in case some major intersection is out of commission due to a water main blowout, natural gas leak, earthquake, or whatever.

This article was published a few days before the UC Davis pepper spray events, but the author explicitly cites what happened to Scott Olsen in Oakland and the arrests in Atlanta, saying those are continuations of the same problems he experience in Seattle in 1999.

Then he gets into why: Continue reading

CCA really doesn’t like community opposition, so apparently it works

Private prison company CCA, which in conjunction with ALEC promotes laws in dozens of states and nationally that lock up more people for CCA’s private profit at taxpayer expense, really doesn’t like community opposition to siting private prisons in their communities. Hm, why would CCA hate community opposition so much, unless it works?

Not quite rolling his eyes when she mentions visiting communities, CCA’s video pair disparage community opposition to private prisons on their own web page, When Corrections Meets Communities:

Question: There are Web sites and blogs that are adamantly opposed to your company and industry, and they provide negative information about you. Why?
Hm, you mean like some of the material on this blog?
Answer: CCA and all corrections companies recognize the ongoing efforts of local, loosely formed grassroots groups and national, well-funded associations that jointly oppose the establishment of partnership prisons, many for self-serving reasons. Such groups go to great lengths to attack, criticize and misrepresent the entire industry. They make false allegations and often rely on hearsay and unreliable sources. Regrettably, these biased groups often resort to misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric to turn isolated incidents into broad generalizations about the corrections industry as a whole.
Well-funded? Har! OK, not this blog. That plus we provide evidence, like Continue reading

Ohio selling off prisons

The governor of Ohio created a budget shortfall, and wants to solve it by selling off private prisons in “a yard sale” in a recession, like “a junkie” for “his next fix.”

According to testimony by a nonpartisan research institute:

“The biggest source of Ohio’s budget problem is not overspending or compenstation for public employees. It is a reduction in revenue.

The tax changes also were weighted to high-income Ohioans. More than 40 percent of the income-tax cuts are going to the five percent of families with income of $135,000 or more a year. Meanwhile, the bottom three-fifths of Ohio families will receive just 13 percent of the total tax cut.
According to a recent poll, the people of Ohio think this is unfair and don’t believe the governor can fix the budget without raising taxes.

There are other reasons selling off prisons to private prison companies such as CCA is a bad idea.

Mark Niquette wrote for Bloomberg 29 June 2011, Kasich Tries to Avoid Arizona’s Mistakes in Ohio Prison Selloff:

Still, Democratic lawmakers, including Representative Matt Lundy of Elyria, question whether Ohio is making a wise move.

“The buyer wins and the taxpayers lose when we sell in the middle of a recession,” Lundy said during press conference last month, calling the move “a yard sale.”

Selling assets for “one-time” money is a mistake, Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy said. He opposed a plan by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal to sell three prisons to raise $90 million, a proposal the Legislature didn’t approve.

“A junkie can sell his TV or his stereo or his iPod and generate money for his next fix,” Kennedy, also a Republican, said in a telephone interview from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “But if he’s going to ever get well, he needs to face his addiction.”

An even better quote in that story comes from CCA’s own Steve Owen: Continue reading

One of the ways we save money is not build new prisons —Grover Norquist

On the Alyona Show, Grover Norquist: Prison Reform NOW:
A long prison sentence might be justified, but it also might be very expensive, and maybe it’s not the best way to deal with people with drug problems.

People do want to know that violent criminals are locked up for a good length of time. They’re not particularly interested in locking up in prison for $20,000 a year or in some places in California, $50,000 a year…. It’s not free to put someone in prison.

He even recommends trying rehabilitation and drug treatment.

Texas is the state that’s moved out there, done some very serious analysis.
Drug rehabilitiation, lower recidivism, lower costs.

In Lowndes County, Georgia, we have two hospitals, a drug treatment center, and many doctors and nurses. What if we invested in them instead of in a money-losing private prison?


Misplaced Priorities: Over Incarcerate, Under Educate —NAACP

What can get Grover Norquist and the President of the NAACP on the same stage? A new report from NAACP:
Misplaced Priorities tracks the steady shift of state funds away from education and toward the criminal justice system. Researchers have found that over-incarceration most often impacts vulnerable and minority populations, and that it destabilizes communities.
And this is not just finger-pointing; it includes pointers on how to get out of this mess:
The report is part of the NAACP’s “Smart and Safe Campaign,” and offers a set of recommendations that will help policymakers in all 50 states downsize prison populations and shift the savings to education budgets.
Short version: Continue reading