Tag Archives: private prison

U.S. has “moral responsibility to reduce the flow of [drug] money towards Mexico” —Felipe Calderón, President of Mexico

The Mexican president who put the Mexican Army onto the streets to stop the drug war, resulting in 40,000+ deaths, many collateral damage like the son of writer Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican president who a year ago started hinting that that didn’t work and something else should be done, is already following the path of his predecessors Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox, in calling for the U.S. to end the war on drugs. Georgia can’t afford to continue spending a billion dollars a year to lock people up, especially while cutting education. If we listen to the Mexican presidents, we can save much of that billion and spend much of the savings on education.

T.W. wrote for the Economist 23 November 2012, “Impossible” to end drug trade, says Calderón,

In an interview recorded last month for this week’s special report Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico on Mexico, Mr Calderón said: “Are there still drugs in Juárez [a violent northern border city]? Well of course, but it has never been the objective…of the public-security strategy to end something that it is impossible to end, namely the consumption of drugs or their trafficking…

“[E]ither the United States and its society, its government and its congress decide to drastically reduce their consumption of drugs, or if they are not going to reduce it they at least have the moral responsibility to reduce the flow of money towards Mexico, which goes into the hands of criminals. They have to explore even market mechanisms to see if that can allow the flow of money to reduce.

“If they want to take all the drugs they want, as far as I’m concerned let them take them. I don’t agree with it but it’s their decision, as consumers and as a society. What I do not accept is that they continue passing their money to the hands of killers.”

The Economist article spelled out what Calderón still doesn’t quite say:

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GA State attorney general tries to order private citizens not to oppose charter school amendment

Pushers of the charter school amendment must be desperate! Blurring the line between public officials and private citizens, state Attorney General Sam Olens wrote:

Local school boards do not have the legal authority to expend funds or other resources to advocate or oppose the ratification of a constitutional amendment by the voters. They may not do this directly or indirectly through associations to which they may belong….

As Jim Galloway wrote yesterday for the AJC in Sam Olens orders local school boards to stay out of charter school fight,

That means organizations like the Georgia School Boards Association, and perhaps, the Georgia School Superintendents Association, would be barred from speaking out against the proposed constitutional amendment.

And would that include organizations like PAGE, which produced the slides that a local middle school teacher used last week? What about that teacher, or Dr. Troy Davis, speaking a few weeks earlier, both on their own time?

Olens’ letter would apply to what the VDT said was in the VBOE and LCBOE joint resolution, at least the part about “The resolution explicitly states that the boards are asking voters to not support the Constitutional Amendment relative to state charter schools.”

But what does Olens mean, duly elected local school boards don’t have authority to express opinions about educational matters that would directly affect the people who elected them?

Why has Sam Olens suddenly gotten religion about this now, after he was silent last year when both VBOE and LCBOE adopted resolutions against the school “unification” referendum? Where was he when both boards of education hosted numerous forums opposing consolidation?

Will he next be telling the Valdosta City Council it can’t pass a resolution opposing a referendum? What exactly is the difference between that elected body and an elected school board as far as expressing such an opinion? And all of those resolutions were non-binding opinions.

Will Sam Olens next be telling the VDT it can’t editorialize against the charter school amendment?

How desperate are the pushers of the charter school amendment?

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ALEC behind Georgia charter school referendum

ALEC has been pushing charter schools in Georgia, both through “our state legislators” sponsoring bills and through the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). We already got that private prison customer law HB 87 from ALEC; why would we want to approve an ALEC-sponsored law to let Atlanta siphon public school money to charter schools?

Salvatore Colleluori & Brian Powell wrote for MediaMatters 9 May 2012, How ALEC Is Quietly Influencing Education Reform In Georgia,

Georgia media have been silent as members of ALEC in Georgia’s legislature have successfully pushed through a version of ALEC’s Charter Schools Act, which would create a state-controlled board with the power to establish and fund charter schools over local opposition. A Media Matters analysis found that while Georgia media have frequently written about the bills, they have completely overlooked ALEC’s influence in the debate.

The article details how at least two of the statehouse sponsors of the relevant bills are ALEC members: Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones R 46 and Majority Whip Edward Lindsey R 54. Remember them, from the list of Georgia Legislators with ALEC Ties? You thought maybe that list was hypothetical and of little effect? Nope, these bills echo ALEC model charter school legislation, and these ALEC legislators actively pushed them into law. Plus look at the titles these two legislators have on their own legislative websites: Speaker Pro Tempore and Majority Whip. How close is that to our legislature being owned lock, stock, and barrel by ALEC?

But wait! There’s more…. Lee Fang wrote for Republic Report 14 May 2012, Charter School Lobby Group Quits ALEC Two Days After Being Identified By Republic Report,

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ALEC responds to Sierra Club report

Received yesterday on Sierra Club reports on big fossil fuel’s coordinated attack on clean energy. My comments below. -jsq

Although the Sierra Club was notified of the errors in their report, they have yet to address them. In addition, neither fact checking nor communication was attempted by the Sierra Club on claims made in this report.

In response to this error-filled report , here is a short statement and brief fact check.


-Todd Wynn

And if you follow that link you find these things:

The American Legislative Exchange Council is not against renewable energy in any form….

ALEC believes that free markets in energy produce more options, more energy, lower prices and less economic disruptions. Also, ALEC believes that mandates to transform the energy sector and use renewable energy sources place the government in the unfair position of choosing winners and losers, keeping alive industries that are dependent on special interest lobbying. ALEC opposes mandates and therefore opposes infighting among fuel sources. ALEC also believes that government programs designed to encourage and advance energy technologies should not reduce energy choices or supply. They should not limit the production of electricity, for example, to only politically preferable technologies.

Translation: ALEC opposes renewable energy portfolio (REP) standards, which is one of the main points of the Sierra Club report. So ALEC’s rebuttal actually supports that point.

The rest of ALEC’s response is fiddling around the edges about Continue reading

Sierra Club reports on big fossil fuel’s coordinated attack on clean energy

Sierra Club has dug up the money trail connecting fossil fuel companies funding with current legislative attempts to block renewable energy such as solar and wind. And there’s our old friend ALEC!

Sierra Club PR today, “Clean Energy Under Siege” Study Follows Money Trail Behind Campaign Against Renewable Energy

If well-funded opponents of clean energy are willing to commit resources to hurting their enemies at the federal level, it only follows that they would pursue their goals in state and local venues as well.

Client/Parent Total
ConocoPhillips $20,557,043
Royal Dutch Shell $14,790,000
Exxon Mobil $12,730,000
Chevron Corp. $9,510,000

State Renewable Portfolio Standards have long been regarded as a major driver for the addition of renewable energy generation. RPS’s have been established in some form in 30 states and generally require a utility to produce an increasing percentage of the electricity they sell from renewable sources. Wind energy has been a particular beneficiary of state RPS laws and has also helped lower the overall cost of electricity in many of those states.

Groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are a clear and present threat to state RPS laws. ALEC describes itself as a nonprofit group that “works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level….”23 ALEC’s modus operandi is to provide state lawmakers with “model legislation” that will carry out the goals of its corporate members.

They have had significant success with several initiatives. One high-profile example is the “stand your ground” law — ALEC-authored legislation that was implemented nearly word-for-word across several states.

Let’s not forget Georgia’s HB 87 “anti-immigration” law, based on a model bill that ALEC-affiliated legislators proposed in at least 24 states. A law that actually creates new misdemeanors and felonies that feed the private prison industry, such as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which tried to build a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia.

ALEC is also pushing a charter school law that the Georgia legislature passed that put a referendum on November’s ballot to authorize Atlanta overriding local school boards. Privatizing schools would do no more to improve education than privatizing prisons has done to improve incarceration. It’s all about fiddling laws for the profit of ALEC’s cronies.

Today, ALEC is in the process of approving anti-RPS language to send to willing sponsors in state Houses across the nation.

Here’s the gist of the whole thing:

It is a testament to the success and rapid growth of clean-energy resources that they are now regarded as enough of a threat to draw fire from some of the largest, most powerful corporations on the planet.

Those would be the corporations that are making historic record profits by Continue reading

ALEC loses 8 more, including Wal-Mart

Even Wal-Mart ditches ALEC! What about the Southern Company?

ALEC Exposed is keeping a list of Corporations Which Have Cut Ties to ALEC, and since the ten we last counted, eight more have jumped the sinking lobbying ship: Blue Cross Blue Shield, YUM! Brands, Procter & Gamble, Kaplan, Scantron, Amazon, Medtronic, and Wal-Mart. That’s right, even Wal-Mart. Jason Easley wrote for Politicus USA yesterday, Wal-Mart Dumps ALEC and Outs Them as Un-American,

In a statement, Wal-Mart representative Maggie Sans wrote, “Previously, we expressed our concerns about ALEC’s decision to weigh in on issues that stray from its core mission ‘to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets…We feel that the divide between these activities and our purpose as a business has become too wide. To that end, we are suspending our membership in ALEC.”

Wal-Mart claimed that ALEC was no longer as interested in Jeffersonian free market principles as they were other partisan political issues. Two of those unnamed political issues are most certainly voter ID and stand your ground laws.

When even Wal-Mart complains that ALEC isn’t “free market” enough, Wal-Mart, which Continue reading

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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ALEC, bills to ditch renewable energy, and the Southern Company

Got caught promoting laws that encourage people to kill people? Double down on laws to kill people through pollution! That’s what ALEC is doing. And look who’s apparently a member of ALEC: the Southern Company, parent of Georgia Power, and proprieter of several of the largest and dirtiest coal plants in the country.

Brian Merchant wrote for Treehugger Tuesday, Two ALEC Campaigns Exposed: One Kills Renewables, One Boosts Fracking,

After major corporations like Pepsi, Kraft, Proctor & Gamble, and Coke all ditched the rightwing group, ALEC announced that it would Plant Scherer abandon its drive to enact gun and voter ID laws. The group’s decision came after a couple high profile campaigns were launched decrying ALEC’s involvement in passing the ‘stand your ground’ laws.

But the group is actually stepping up its efforts in other arenas, as I noted last week. And two new reports, one from ProPublica, the other from DeSmogBlog, outline its new aims: dismantle legislation that incentivizes renewable energy generation, and preserve loopholes that allow natural gas companies to keep the chemical cocktails in their fracking fluids secret from the public.

This is the same ALEC that promotes laws like Georgia’s HB 87 that lock up more people to benefit private prison companies like CCA, which wanted to build a private prison on Lowndes County, Georgia. Traficking in human beings is not too sordid for ALEC, so poisoning people through polution doesn’t seem surprising.

Hm, let’s look at the corporate membership of ALEC, as collected by Sourcewatch’s ALEC Exposed. Why there’s The Southern Company, parent of Georgia Power! I’m frankly a little surprised Continue reading

Prisoners as cheap labor

Quite likely you thought massive prison populations used as cheap labor were some sort of medieval tradition. Nope. Here’s an article that debunks that misconception and informs you about many other things I (and perhaps you) didn’t know about prisoners as cheap labor.

Locking Down an American Workforce Steve Fraser and Joshua B. Freeman wrote for TomDispatch 19 April 2012, Prison Labor as the Past — and Future — of American “Free-Market” Capitalism,

Penal servitude now strikes us as a barbaric throwback to some long-lost moment that preceded the industrial revolution, but in that we’re wrong. From its first appearance in this country, it has been associated with modern capitalist industry and large-scale agriculture.

So where and when did it come from?

As it happens, penal servitude — the leasing out of prisoners to private enterprise, either within prison walls or in outside workshops, factories, and fields — was originally known as a “Yankee invention.”

First used at Auburn prison in New York State in the 1820s, the system spread widely and quickly throughout the North, the Midwest, and later the West. It developed alongside state-run prison workshops that produced goods for the public sector and sometimes the open market.

A few Southern states also used it. Prisoners there, as elsewhere, however, were mainly white men, since slave masters, with a free hand to deal with the “infractions” of their chattel, had little need for prison. The Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery would, in fact, make an exception for penal servitude precisely because it had become the dominant form of punishment throughout the free states.

In case you’ve never read it or have forgotten, here is the Thirteenth Amendment (emphasis added):

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Got a population you don’t like? Continue reading

Videos @ VLCIA 2012 02 23

Here are videos of the February 2012 Industrial Authority meeting. Apologies for the poor sound. The room turned out to have very echoey acoustics, and no placement of the camera seemed to alleviate that. Also it’s in three chunks, the first of them quite long. In the interests of moving along and catching up on posting videos of recent meetings, we’re going to leave it like that for now. Here’s the agenda.

Here’s a playlist:

Norman Bennett, Tom Call, Roy Copeland chairman, Mary Gooding, Jerry Jennett,
Andrea Schruijer Executive Director, J. Stephen Gupton attorney, Allan Ricketts Project Manager,
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 23 February 2012.
Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).