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Investor's Business Daily - December 31, 2001

Houston, Texas Locking Up More Business A Cell At A Time


It was a get-tough decade for prisoner lockups. Between 1990 and 2000, state and federal prison population climbed 79% to 1.2 million inmates. Another 759,000 prisoners were locked up in local jails. Over 350 facilities and 500,000 beds were added.

A handful of private prison operators scrambled to handle the overflow and reap the financial rewards. One was Cornell Cos. The firm boasts more than 10,000 prison beds under contract and is expected to fetch \$ 263 million in revenue this year. Eight years ago, it had less than 300 beds and just \$ 3.2 million in yearly sales.

But the good times might be coming to an end for those charged with housing and rehabilitating the country's bad guys.

Crime rates were down in 2000, and growth of the national inmate population slowed. In addition, 6,200 state prisoners finished their sentences or were paroled during the last half of the year. The number of inmates held in state prisons declined for the first time since 1972.

"What you are seeing now are an unprecedented number of people coming out of prison, because those people that were locked up are being released in record numbers," said Steven Logan, Cornell's chief executive.

That doesn't necessarily mean prison operators are headed for lean times. The federal prison system remains overcrowded, as are systems in 21 states. In addition, statistics suggest that two-thirds of released prisoners will become repeat offenders and end up back in a cell.

Cornell can keep turning a profit while working to counter that trend, Logan says. "If there is a next step for this industry, it's getting people's minds off this being a security and control business," he said. "It's a people business. It's about changing people's lives."

Logan stuck to that message even as the industry faced a little hard time of its own. While prisoner population mushroomed, large private-sector operators such as Wackenhut Corp. and Corrections Corp. of America stumbled. The pair struggled on a couple of fronts. Overbuilding of private prisons created financial problems. And an unusually high number of prison escapes didn't do their respective images any favors.

Cornell, third largest in the business, had problems of its own. The company turned in 10 straight quarters of double-digit earnings gains during the late 1990s, but that streak came to an end during the third quarter of 2000. Earnings that quarter fell 17% from a year earlier, starting a streak of four straight quarters of earnings declines.

"You saw a blip last year," said James Macdonald, analyst with First Analysis Securities Corp. "Interest rates were up, wage rates were high because the economy was so tight, overtime went up and turnover went up, which kills you on training costs."

Logan, an eight-year Cornell veteran, was named CEO in June to help turn things around. He and his crew in August began making serious adjustments. They moved a large share of debt off Cornell's balance sheet by selling 11 of its facilities in a sale-leaseback arrangement. They also terminated a facility contract in Santa Fe, N.M., that was operating at a \$ 1 million annual loss.

In November, Cornell retired the firm's remaining long-term debt and added \$ 50 million in cash to its balance sheet with a stock offering of 3.5 million shares.

Things have begun to turn around financially. Cornell earned 30 cents a share in the third quarter, up 50% from a year before. Revenue gained 21% to \$ 68.7 million. Analysts polled by First Call expect earnings for all 2001 to rise 7% to 90 cents a share, then gain 17% to \$ 1.05 in 2002.

With its financial performance back on track, Cornell has turned to broader issues - including a campaign to diversify services to better prepare the firm for industry shifts. Another strategy is to do more work treating, rather than incarcerating, criminals. That work actually began during the mid-1990s, when convictions rose.

"We knew those people were going to come out, but we also knew there was going to be a change in sentencing: a movement toward treatment," Logan said. "We got ahead of the curve on that one, and it makes us able to stand up and support alternatives to incarceration."

Forty percent of Cornell's revenue comes from facilities for adult prisoners. Pre-release treatment and rehabilitation services account for another 20%. The remaining 40% comes from juvenile detention operations, a business Cornell began growing in 1997.

Diversification puts Cornell in a good position to weather short- and long-term changes in the industry, Logan says. In the short term, federal prisons are likely to continue outgrowing state prisons for the next 12 to 18 months. Long-term trends include an increased focus on performance. That means helping keep individuals who have undergone treatment from ending up as inmates - and keeping released inmates from becoming repeat offenders.

"If you can do that, then the contracts began to focus on which provider can give you the best outcome," Logan said.

"This industry is just starting to move that way, which is a very big positive, but we still have a ways to go."

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The Associated Press - January 4, 2002

Four correctional officers injured in New Folsom prison attack


SACRAMENTO - Three California State Prison, Sacramento guards were stabbed and one remained hospitalized Friday after what officials suspect was a gang-affiliated assault. A fourth officer suffered bruises but did not require treatment.

Correctional officer John Haggard, 39, was stabbed six times with a metal homemade knife and was held for observation for a wound near his spine, officials said.

Officers Mike Frazer, 53, and Victor Casey, 41, also were stabbed with metal weapons, but were treated and released. Two metal homemade knives were recovered.

"We haven't had anything this serious in quite a while," said Youth and Adult Correctional Agency spokesman Stephen Green.

Five inmates were injured in fighting among more than 300 inmates last month at California State Prison, Los Angeles County, in Lancaster, but guards were not targeted. While six to nine guards are assaulted throughout the prison system on any typical day, Green said it is unusual for several guards to be assaulted at once.

The incident began about 6:50 a.m. as officers were preparing to move about 40 inmates after breakfast in the prison's "B" unit. Haggard was stabbed while he was searching one inmate, and 10 companions immediately joined in attacking him and other nearby officers, officials said.

Officers quelled the assault in five to 10 minutes with pepper spray and rubber bullets. One inmate required stitches for a cut finger.

"The inmates were armed, which suggests they were planning something. We don't know if Haggard was the target," Green said. The only inmates to join the fight were identified by prison officials as affiliated with the Southern Hispanics, a loose alliance of mostly Los Angeles-area Hispanic street gangs.

Lance Corcoran, vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, said the incident illustrates the dangers officers face daily, but "it doesn't appear it was a pre-planned incident."

The 11 inmates were isolated and the prison was locked down after the incident.

The high security prison was built in 1986 next door to historic Folsom prison, 25 miles east of Sacramento, and is commonly called New Folsom.

It was designed for 1,728 inmates but houses 3,260. Of those, 2,700 are maximum-security inmates, most of whom are serving long sentences or have had discipline problems at other prisons.

Crowding did not appear to play a role in the incident, Green said, though the investigation is continuing.


On the Net:

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Mississippi: Per diem cost determined.

State spends \$45.91 a day to house inmates


JACKSON - Mississippi spends \$45.91 to house inmates in state prisons, according to a new report from the state's legislative watchdog.

The Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER), in a report released Thursday, said the operational cost to house inmates in minimum-, medium- and maximum-security prisons was \$38.34 a day.

The \$45.91 includes basic housing, salaries, education, medical costs, administrative costs and \$7.57 of annual debt service.

The annual study by PEER helps the state determine if private jails that house inmates operate at a cost at least 10 percent below the state's costs, as required by law.

"The number we produce is really the starting point to negotiate those contracts," said James Barber, PEER's deputy director.

PEER does not compare prisoner cost numbers to other years because variables, such as prisoner numbers, change too much, Barber said.

Rick McCarty, deputy commissioner of administration and finance for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, said the daily average was slightly lower than last year because the state housed more inmates while costs rose only nominally.

"It confirms what we've been saying," he said. "If we keep more inmates in our state-run beds, it's more cost effective than keeping them in per-diem beds."

The cost to the Mississippi Department of Corrections in fiscal year 2001 per inmate per day for a 1,000-bed prison was \$38.71 for minimum security, \$42.93 for medium security and $66.62 for maximum security.

The cost to MDOC for a 500-bed psychiatric correctional facility was \$55.00 for medium security and $70.10 for maximum security.

Smith, Turner, and Reeves, P.A., provided the cost estimates to PEER.

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Australia: Wackenhut health services contract raises concerns.

MELBOURNE, Jan 8 AAP|Published: Tuesday January 8
By Trevor Chappell, State Political Correspondent

Govt defends new contract for prison health services

The Victorian government today defended its decision to renew a contract with a private health operator for the state's prisons after the opposition accused it of hypocrisy.

Opposition corrections spokesman Kim Wells said Labor had promised at the 1999 state election that it would phase out private management of existing prisons.

Corrections Minister Andre Haermeyer said the opposition was confusing the provision of health services with the actual operation of the prison.

"We make it quite clear we don't believe there is a role for the private sector in the running of prisons, and that is a very distinct thing from providing a health service," Mr Haermeyer said.

Mr Wells said at the last state election, Labor promised to terminate all private prison contracts.

"The opposition has found today that a secret deal has been entered into between the Bracks government and a private prison operator not only to renew a contract to provide health services but to actually expand it," Mr Wells told reporters.

" ... this we believe is the ultimate in hypocrisy."

The Bracks government has renewed its contract with a private operator to provide health services at 11 state prisons, under a deal worth \$36.7 million.

The US-based Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC) today announced its Australian subsidiary, Australasian Correctional Management (ACM), had signed a new deal with CORE - Victoria's Public Correctional Enterprise.

ACM, through its Pacific Shores Healthcare division, has contracted with CORE to provide primary inmate health care services since January 1998.

Mr Haermeyer, who was highly critical of Wackenhut when ACM won the contract to build and manage the Fulham prison at Sale in 1995, dismissed Mr Wells' criticism, saying he was guilty of a "breath-taking bit of idiocy".

Mr Haermeyer said Pacific Shores had been providing a high-standard service in the prisons for some time.

The contract for the provision of health services in the prisons, effective from December 21, 2001, is for two years plus a two-year option.

ACM will manage and provide primary medical, dental and psychiatric nursing services.

ACM provides health services for about 2,144 offenders in 11 public prisons across the state. The previous contract covered nine public facilities.

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Cuts stymie prisons, welfare

The Bakersfield Californian
Thursday January 10, 2002

In Kern County, the budget cuts proposed Thursday by Gov. Gray Davis would fall hardest on welfare recipients, Kern Medical Center and two small private prisons.

But most local officials, remembering the recession of the early 1990s when the state balanced its budget by taking billions of dollars in property tax revenues from cities and counties, were relieved that the impact was not more drastic.

Facing a budget deficit of at least \$12 billion over the next 18 months, Davis issued a \$100 billion budget proposal for the coming fiscal year Thursday that would close most of the gap with borrowing, fund shifting and other accounting maneuvers.

"Given the size of the state budget deficit, we're pleased that we are not being asked to shoulder a huge burden like we were 10 years ago," said Alan Krauter, the county's legislative analyst.

State Sen. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, said he was pleased that the governor wants to expand the Healthy Families medical care program for poor children and not cut funding for law enforcement, including the war on methamphetamine in the Central Valley.

But both Costa and Republican Sen. Charles Poochigian of Fresno voiced disappointment that the budget does not include some \$40 million being sought by rural school districts to bring their state funding closer to the level of urban schools.

Poochigian also criticized the governor for boasting about his refusal to propose tax increases in the budget for next year when California consumers were hit with a \$1.2 billion increase in sales taxes Jan. 1.

On the local level, a Bakersfield company is being asked to shoulder a relatively big burden.

That company is Alternative Programs Inc., which operates the Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility. It is one of five such contract prisons that the California Department of Corrections plans to close when their contracts expire June 30 to save \$5.1 million.

Another is the McFarland Community Correctional Facility.

The McFarland facility is operated by the nationwide Wackehnut correctional firm, but Mesa Verde is API's only venture so far.

The firm's president, Edwin D. Sigrest was bitterly disappointed at the action, even though he knew it might be coming.

He blamed it on opposition to non-union community correctional facilities from the union that represents state prison guards.

"The Correctional Peace Officers Association doesn't like us because we can do this job as well as they can, and do it for less money," Sigrest said. "And they have contributed a lot of money to the governor's campaign."
Russell Heimrich, communications director for the Department of Corrections, denied that. "That's absolutely not true," Heimrich said. "We're doing this because we, like other departments, have to trim our budget."
Mesa Verde has about 340 low-security inmates and employs about 100 people, Sigrest said. The McFarland facility has some 220 inmates and 54 employees.

Wackenhut officials, who also operate two other community correctional facilities in McFarland, could not be reached for comment.

Heimrich said the cuts would leave the state with 11 of the privately run facilities, several of them in Kern County.
The widest impact of the budget cuts would be felt by CalWORKs welfare recipients and low-income patients of the Medi-Cal health care program.

The governor wants to withhold an expected 3.9 percent cost-of-living increase in monthly CalWORKs benefit checks for the coming year. He also called for a slight increase in co-payments for doctor and hospital visits by Medi-Cal patients. And he would withhold the state's half of a cost-of-living increase for the aged, blind and disabled.

Those are expected to be among the most controversial items when the Legislature begins deliberating on the budget.

John Burton of San Francisco, the liberal president of the state Senate, vowed to fight the benefit cuts. "It's an outrage," Burton said.

On another front, the governor wants to rake off some of the federal funding for hospitals like Kern Medical Center that serve a disproportionate share of low-income patients.
"That will cost Kern Medical Center about \$1.7 million," Krauter said.
The governor also made another cut in state funding for public libraries in addition to funding freezes he ordered late last year.

Together, Krauter said, the cuts amount to about \$270,000 for the Kern County Public Library, leaving it with about \$824,000 in state funds for the coming fiscal year in its $8.7 million budget.

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California: More on MTC facility closing.
Inland prison may shut

CUTS: The governor's proposed budget contains no money for Eagle Mountain's sole industry.

EAGLE MOUNTAIN - News from Sacramento has Eagle Mountain residents worried that their rural community will become a ghost town.

As residents feared, Gov. Davis' proposed budget released Thursday includes no money for the town's sole industry, the Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility.

The privately run men's prison will transfer 400 inmates and close June 30 unless it wins a reprieve, said Gary Ollivier, director of the facility.

"The facility really is the town," said Linda Gubman, who doubles as superintendent of Desert Center Unified School District and principal of its only school in Eagle Mountain. "And if we don't have the town, what else stays open?"

Closing Eagle Mountain and four other prisons -- in Baker in San Bernardino County, McFarland, Live Oak and Bakersfield -- would result in a net savings of \$5.1 million in the state budget, said a spokesman for Robert Presley, secretary of the state Youth and Adult Correctional Agency.

The minimum-security facilities became expendable because of the state's declining prison population and the impact of Prop. 36, which diverts nonviolent drug offenders to treatment programs, the budget stated.

But cutting funds to Eagle Mountain would have a devastating economic effect on the sparsely populated Chuckawalla Valley area 60 miles east of Indio, residents said.

The nearly 100 prison employees and their families make up most, if not all, of Eagle Mountain's population of 250. And the inmates often did cleanup and other jobs in the area as part of their community service.

At least half the 50 pupils in the school, which serves students in kindergarten through the eighth grade would leave if their parents relocate, Gubman said, and that could doom the school. It would force remaining pupils from outlying areas to make a three-hour, 180-mile round trip to the Blythe area. Gubman said she cannot fathom putting kindergartners and first-graders on a school bus at 5:30 a.m.

Eagle Mountain has shouldered bad times before. The once-thriving Kaiser iron mine closed in 1983, leaving rows of boarded-up homes and businesses that once were filled by 1,000 miners and their families. But a few people stayed, and the prison offered new hope in 1988.

Ollivier said that as of Thursday afternoon he had not received official word on the prison. Officials would look for another way to keep it open, perhaps as a treatment facility, Ollivier said. And it's possible the prison, which has a \$4.7 million annual budget, could get funding in May during budget revisions in Sacramento.

But he added: "There's nothing positive about this. There's nothing on the burners."

The prison is run by Utah-based Management & Training Corp., which operates 17 private facilities in California, Texas, Ohio, New Mexico, and Ontario, Canada, Ollivier said.

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Rohrbach sponsoring six bills in his last session

News Tribune - January 10, 2002

Missouri: With the first day of the 2002 legislative session behind them, Missouri senators have prefiled bills they hope will win the approval of their political colleagues in the next five months.

With term limits in sight, Sen. Larry Rohrbach, R-California, has sponsored six bills.

Rohrbach is also proposing legislation that would prohibit privately owned prisons or correctional facilities in Missouri. The issue has been debated in previous sessions.

Rohrbach said he fears the consequences of creating an economic incentive for incarceration. "Like a nursing home or hotel, you've got to keep the beds full. You create an industry that benefits from locking people up. I think that's dangerous," he explained, adding he believes public safety concerns are the only incentive society needs for imprisoning citizens.

Rohrbach also fears that private institutions could be prone to employee strikes; could inflict a maximum-security prison population on a unsuspecting public; and could be prone to incidents of inmate abuse. He added other states have been subject to aggressive lobbying tactics by the privatized prison industry.

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The risky logic of privatization

By Carol Goar

IT'S FUNNY how rational a mistake can seem.

A generation ago, Canadian policymakers persuaded themselves — and much of the public — that deficit financing made perfect sense. Government borrowing to stimulate the economy allowed people to keep working, spending and paying taxes, they argued. Why not use future income to pay for current needs?

The theory worked splendidly for the first few years. Ottawa spent more than it raised and Canadians lived beyond their means without visible harm to the economy.

But the public debt ballooned. By the time the government finally broke its addiction to deficits, interest payments were eating up 38 cents out of every tax dollar.

Canadians swore they'd never get into a mess like that again.

But today, public policymakers are embarking on a course that could prove just as perilous.

Privatization is their new mantra. Governments no longer need to use scarce tax dollars to build hospitals, fix crumbling infrastructure or run public utilities, they contend. The private sector can do it more cheaply and efficiently.

Again, the short-term benefits look irresistible. Capital is badly needed to upgrade everything from aging water systems to outdated medical technology. Governments can't afford these kinds of investments without large-scale borrowing or hefty tax hikes. So why not let the private sector do it?

Today, as in the Trudeau era, those with misgivings are dismissed as timid and hidebound. Now, as then, the long-term consequences are hard to foresee.

But this time, it would be folly to proceed without at least trying to gauge the risks.

  • Private corporations don't move into any new business without some expectation of profit. Their goal is to make money, not to provide services at cost.

    Inviting profit-making companies into the public sector might seem like a bargain: Citizens get shiny new facilities without onerous tax increases. But once the new owner is in place, the public loses control over the cost of using these facilities.

    As the experience of Highway 407, Ontario's first private toll road shows, prices escalate rapidly once the government relinquishes the reins.

  • Privatization is built on the premise that competition leads to better service at lower cost. But there is very little evidence to back up this hypothesis.

    It is not only fiascos like the hydro botch-ups in California and Alberta that give rise to doubts. Even in places where privatization has gone relatively smoothly, the benefits are debatable.

    After studying the privatization of public utilities across Europe, the International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency, concluded: "It is often assumed that privatized companies will necessarily be more efficient and cost-effective than public ones. Empirical evidence, however, suggests that privatized energy and water companies in practice, are no more efficient than public ones.''

  • Then there is the question of accountability. Advocates of privatization say that, as long as governments set the rules, it doesn't matter whether services are delivered publicly or privately. That might be true, if public officials were monitoring the performance of private-sector contractors, enforcing health and safety standards and ensuring that the public interest prevailed over the profit motive.

    But governments have been downsized so severely that many departments no longer have the staff to provide proper oversight. The Walkerton water-contamination tragedy was frightening proof of that.

    Even if regulators knew that the companies under their watch were cutting corners, polluting the environment or hiring unqualified workers, it is far from certain that they would force these contractors to shape up — especially if it meant higher costs for consumers or bigger bills for the government.

  • It is also worth asking what would happen if a private corporation, which had taken over a critical area of public responsibility, suddenly decided it couldn't make an adequate return on investment. The onus would be on the government to either negotiate a new deal (which would mean higher prices or lower standards) or take over the sector itself, at enormous public expense.

    That is not as far-fetched as it might sound. Companies that jumped at the chance to take over public services in the United States a few years ago are already beginning to complain that they can't run a profitable business, while meeting all the conditions imposed on them by meddlesome governments.

    Other pitfalls loom. Essential services can fall into foreign hands. Contractors can end up working at cross-purposes, without direction or co-ordination. Governments can find themselves without the expertise they need to make informed policy decisions.

    But the biggest danger is that Canadians will wake up, one not-too-distant morning, and realize they've made a dreadful mistake.

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    Be careful driving south of the border!

    Local DUI arrests set record in 2001
    Saturday, January 12, 2002

    -- Sandusky's Highway Patrol post charged
    two people a day
    with drunken driving.

    By EMILY S. ACHENBAUM - Sandusky Register Online

    More than 1,400 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence in 2001 by Erie and Ottawa county agencies, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Sandusky post, which made about half of the total arrests.

    Combined, that's an average of four arrests a day.

    The arrest numbers are troubling to Lt. Dave Cope of OSHP's Sandusky Post. The post's arrests, which averaged around the 400 a year throughout most of the 1990s, have been steadily climbing since 1999.

    In 2001, the post made 732 arrests -- two a day -- and 212 more than the 520 arrests in 2000. The post gets plenty of tips from callers, but there are only two or three post patrol cars on the road at any given time.

    "I told them it was their primary goal," Cope said of discussions with patrol officers, "to be acutely aware and focused on drunk drivers."

    But while Cope hasn't increased the number of patrol cars on the road, the number of drunken drivers, inexplicably, seems to be going up. And the results are ominous: The five people who died last year in Ottawa County accidents were all involved in alcohol-related crashes.

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 40 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. involve alcohol, killing 16,653 people in 2000 alone.

    Perkins Police Chief Tim McClung has also seen an increase in arrests, which he thinks can be at least partially attributed to the recent shift changes which have more officers working at night.

    In 2001, Perkins officers arrested 377 people for driving under the influence, which was above the typical annual average of 250-300 arrests.

    McClung said the department will gets calls from fast-food restaurants saying that there is a drunken driver in the drive-thru; sometimes officers will catch the driver as they pull away, other times they'll find the driver passed out in their car in line.

    According to Sandusky Assistant Police Chief Gary Lyons, the department's numbers have remained pretty consistent, with 241 DUI arrests in 2000 and 210 in 2001.

    But when the department used state funding to run a sobriety checkpoint a few years ago, they would make 20-30 arrests anight.

    "It's scary when you think about how many people might be driving under the influence," Lyons said.

    Other arrest numbers include Erie County Sheriff's Department, 30; Port Clinton Police Department, 26; Norwalk Police Department, 68; Ottawa County Sheriff's Office, 39; Oak Harbor, Danbury and Put-in-Bay's police departments had just less than a dozen arrests

    Few will deny drunk driving is a problem. Authorities agree that what's hard to answer is what to do with drunken drivers, 35 percent of whom are repeat offenders, according to NHSTA.

    The penalties on the books are tough, but there are loopholes, such as an offender must have four DUI offenses in six years for the charge to become a felony and carry a significant prison term.

    And for the majority of offenders, jail is not a real option.

    "It would be a huge burden on the current incarceration system," Cope said, noting that jails are already overcrowded with violent offenders.

    "It's only a matter of time before these people are in injury or fatal crashes," Cope said.

    Report a drunken driver:


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    Founded in 1976, the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is the nation’s leading nonpartisan progressive public policy and leadership development center serving state legislators, state policy organizations, and state grassroots leaders. CPA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with a staff of 35 and an annual budget of \$4 million, supported by foundations, unions, corporations and individuals.

    CPA has a lot to say against privatization - read it here !

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    Recent postings on alt.prisons - newsgroup

    The Prison Industrial Complex - A Reality

    The prison industrial complex is a self perpetuating industry based on the subjugation of an increasing segment of our communities by racial and economic scapegoating. The economic angle of this is immediate, bottom line, material gain for the corporations supporting and profiting from the prison industrial complex.

    Political values, largely molded by globalized corporate media providers, play into the industrial complex by supporting the unquestioned growth of the industry. "Hard-on-crime" political posturing is almost considered indispensable in the political climate in America. Leadership is absent from the political arena. Public opinion sampling has replaced leadership due to the materialistic notion that being reelected is the ultimate goal of a term in office. Leadership involves making unpopular decisions for the common good. A good leader challenges society and questions the peoples attitudes, such actions are absent in American politics. Pleasing the most people for the most time is the number one priority, there is something wrong with this picture.

    I have often held that we ought to create legislation that recognized that if any person showed any interest in a political office, he or she should be disqualified from holding that office - so much for professional politicians. People should be dragged kicking and screaming into the Whitehouse, not spending tens of millions of dollars seeking the position. Let's drag Walter Cronkite out of retirement and make him President. He doesn't want the job, is popular, and would probably do a darn good job.

    Social structures die hard. Changing, even abolishing social structures takes time and effort. The prison Industrial Complex is a social structure of grand scale. It has only recently come into focus as a reality in American society. Many people I have encountered are not yet even familiar with the term "prison industrial complex." I often receive looks of incredulity when I speak about this man-made structure which self perpetuates imprisonment at an ever growing rate in America. We now have over 2.2 million people, human beings, citizens, behind bars in America. We have the unique distinction of being the largest incarcerator of human beings in the world, bar none.

    Prison is big business

    Prison is big business, very big business. The secure housing, minimal support , minimal medical care and feeding of 2.2 million people is a costly endeavor consuming billions and billions of dollars of tax payers money every year in America. Corporations are lined up to receive a portion of the public funds used to support the self-perpetuating incarceration industry. States such as California spend more public funds, tax dollars, your money, my money, on prisons than for education and schools.

    It is an industry and it is indeed complex, a look through the December 2000 copy of "Corrections Today," the "industry's" trade magazine, reveals 117 corporate advertisements placed by 98 corporations. Each one of these companies to a greater or lesser extent are making profit from the 2.2 million people being held captive within the prison industry. Many of the following companies listed are solely concerned with prisons, others such as the drug company Bristol-Myers are advertising to just one aspect of the industry.

    Prison by definition as codified in the thirteenth amendment of the United States Constitution can hold people in slavery and involuntary servitude. Prison labor is slave labor at worst and coerced cooperation at best. It is a growing phenomena in the prison industrial complex. Some of the advertisements listed below deal with prison labor issues. One, a 1/4 page advertisement, by Illinois Correctional Industries, appears to be seeking out of state prisoners for its prison labor programs.

    The telecommunications providers make exorbitant profit from prisoner telephone calls, the vast majority of which are collect to the prisoner's family and loved ones. A prisoner's family may be charged a "connection fee" of over \$3 for each call which entitles them to the privilege of spending over ten times the normal rate for telephone calls.

    Telecommunications contracts in the prison industry are highly prized and lucrative "deals" that invariably entail legal kickbacks to the prisons euphemistically labeled "attractive commission and incentive programs." An initial telecommunications contract with a state department of corrections can involve a million dollars or more in "incentive" up front.

    Slavery in your portfolio? Take a good look at the list... own any stock in any of the companies listed? Patronize any of the telecommunications companies? Verison? MCI?

    Think about it, these companies are all making profit from the incarceration of human beings under conditions which cause suffering to the prisoners, their families and loved ones, the guards and administrators who hold them captive, and the social fabric of our communities. Socially responsible investment demands that capital be moved elsewhere in support of the common good - the social economy, that which supports the community of all people, that which underpins the materialistic economy. Think of investing in prisons as being bad-business in the long run...

    Source for some material:

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    Grit MPPs call jail situation appalling

    By Don Lajoie Star -Windsor Star

    Windsor-St. Clair MPP Dwight Duncan, left, liberal corrections critic Dave Levac and Windsor West MPP Sandra Pupatello speak on the need for improvements at the Windsor Jail Monday. The three toured the facility, talking to workers about recent cuts by the provincial government.

    The Windsor Jail is a training ground for animal behaviour, a group of Liberal MPPs who toured the institution charged Monday.

    The three provincial politicians, Sandra Pupatello (Windsor West) Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St. Clair) and Dave Levac, the party's corrections critic, emerged from a tour of the Sandwich Street jail shaken and angered by conditions they encountered inside.

    "We have examples like this all over Ontario," said Levac. "We have inmate-on-inmate violence, inmates on corrections officers, we have riots, overcrowding. If you treat people like animals, in two years less a day, they come out like animals."

    Levac said the jail was holding 140 inmates in a building designed to house 100. There are some days, he added, when the number jumps to 170. On those days there are often three inmates per cell, many sleeping on mattresses on the floor.

    The Liberals blamed those conditions for the level of stress in the Windsor jail which resulted in a cell block being trashed and toilets being stopped up and flooded during a weekend uprising at the jail last Oct. 20, which ended quietly only when the ministry sent in its special tactical unit the next day.

    At the time, inmates suggested the incident may have been touched off by new rules banning smoking from the building and grounds, aggravating long-standing concerns about crowding and building conditions. The uprising caused about \$200,000 damage. Two men have since been arrested.

    But Levac said that while poor conditions and overcrowding are major contributors to the problem, so is the lack of funding for hiring and training corrections officers across Ontario. He said troublemakers inside the jails are aware that resources are stretched and take advantage of the situation. "They're not replacing retirees or those who leave, not providing adequate training," he said.

    Pupatello charged the Progressive Conservative government with "woefully underfunding the system," stating guards often pull double duty and probation officers are often handling 150 cases each, twice the workload they should. "People have to be safe in their jobs."

    Ministry of Corrections officials could not be reached for comment.

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    In California, five prisons will be closed this year
    and a softening of the 'three-strikes' law
    is proposed for the ballot

    By Fox Butterfield

    NEW YORK TIMES - January 21, 2002

    After three decades of building more prisons and passing tougher sentencing laws, many states are being forced by budget deficits to close some prisons, lay off guards and consider ways to shorten sentences. In the last month alone, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois have each moved to close a prison, laying off guards in the process, corrections officials in those states say.

    Washington state is considering a proposal by Gov. Gary Locke to shorten sentences for nonviolent crimes and make it easier for inmates to win early release, saving money by shrinking the prison population.

    Colorado and Illinois are delaying building prisons, and Illinois is cutting education for 25,000 inmates.

    California, which led the nation's prison-building boom, will close five small, privately operated minimum security prisons when their contracts expire this year.

    Budget pressures are adding momentum to a push to put a proposal on the California ballot in November that would reduce the number of criminals subject to the state's three-strikes sentencing law to reduce the number of prison beds.

    The 1994 law mandates a 25-year-to-life sentence for serious or violent three-time felons.

    "I don't know of a correctional system in the country that isn't facing some of this," said Chase Riveland, a former director of Washington state prisons and now a prison consultant.

    Steven Ickes, an assistant director of the Oregon Department of Corrections, said, "My sense is that budget problems are making people ask fundamental questions about whether we can afford to keep on doing what we've been doing," locking up more criminals for longer periods.

    "We are going to have to make some tough choices about prisons vs. schools, and about getting a better investment return on how we run our prisons so we don't have so many prisoners reoffending and being sent back."

    Since the early 1970s, the number of state prisoners has increased 500 percent, growing each year in the 1990s even as crime fell.

    In that time, prisons were the fastest-growing item in state budgets -- often the only growing item.

    There are more than 2 million inmates in state and federal prisons and local jails, held at a cost of more than \$30 billion a year, Allen Beck, of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, said.

    In those years, said Franklin Zimring, director of the Earl Warren Legal Institute at UC Berkeley, public pressure to get tough on crime made prison budgets virtually untouchable.

    But with crime having dropped or leveled off in the last nine years, this political pressure has abated, and with the economy in a decline, many states find themselves having to cut spending to balance their budgets.

    "This means that prisons must now compete by everybody else's rules for scarce budget resources," Zimring said.

    Whether fiscal restraints will lead to a decline in the number of people in prison is less clear, Beck said. In the second half of 2000, he said, the number of inmates fell for the first time since 1972, as crime dropped.

    "My best guess," Beck said, "is that the economic restraints are going to be offset by the rigidities of the sentencing laws of the 1990s, which mandated longer sentences.

    "What we may have is stability, with the prison population continuing to grow, but slowly, in keeping with the population of the United States."

    The biggest change in response to the tight budgets has come in the three states that have moved to close prisons: Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.

    Reginald Wilkinson, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said he had been ordered to cut his budget by 1.5 percent, or \$19 million.

    At first, Wilkinson said, he feared he would have to close two prisons but later found he could achieve the savings by closing one, the aging Orient Correctional Institution in Columbus, a maximum security prison with 1,700 inmates.

    The inmates are being transferred to 10 other prisons in Ohio. Some guards will be transferred, but about 200 employees will be laid off, Wilkinson said. He began offering other guards incentives for early retirement.

    Nationwide, guards account for about 80 percent of prison costs.

    In Michigan, where the corrections department had to save \$50 million, it closed a medium-security prison in Jackson, 70 miles west of Detroit, along with a halfway house and a work camp.

    The Michigan prison agency laid off 97 guards who worked in Jackson and cut 161 positions for sergeants, unit managers and assistant deputy wardens at other state prisons, said Matt Davis, a spokesman.

    Jackson inmates are being double-bunked at another state prison, Davis said.

    To cut costs further, Michigan is moving 250 to 300 prisoners temporarily housed in county jails back into prisons so no more state guards must be laid off, Davis said.

    But Wayne Kangas, the sheriff of Clinton County, where some of the state prisoners were housed, said the state's action will cost his county from \$500,000 to $600,000 in lost revenue.

    "This will be a major problem for us," Kangas said. "It's a real shock."

    Illinois is closing the Joliet Correctional Center, an old prison that once held George "Baby Face" Nelson, and is saving \$5.4 million by cutting classes for inmates beyond training to pass a high school equivalency test, said Sergio Molina, a prison agency spokesman.

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    Barrie man complains of treatment in jail

    The Advance - Jan. 21, 2002

    At least one inmate, of approximately 400 people in custody at the Penetanguishene super jail, is not happy with the new facility.

    At least one inmate, of approximately 400 people in custody at the Penetanguishene super jail, is not happy with the new facility.

    Frank Bruno, of Barrie, believes the jail was not ready for inmates in November, and staff should have been more organized before allowing people into the facility.

    Bruno was found guilty of break, enter and theft on Dec. 10, and was sentenced to serve 120 days in jail.

    He said inmates in isolation aren't getting proper food and clothing.

    "We have winter jackets, but when they're passed around, the population inmates hand it out. When they get to protective custody, they give us the worst of the worst, or not enough. Same with food and with showering, we have to wait for two hours to have one (a shower) with a clean towel and clean pair of socks."

    There are two types of inmates at the jail - those in protective custody, and the population inmates, who share a common room with tables, chairs, phone and television. An inmate in protective custody has his own cell and is separated from other people for protection. It can be because he testified against another inmate at the jail, or because he feels threatened by being around other inmates.

    "Population inmates are going into our yard and urinating, as well as throwing sour milk into our unit. They kick our door and make gestures with their fingers like slicing of throats, pulling a fingered gun and pulling the trigger or giving the finger. Staff hears and sees all this, but they do nothing about it."

    Bruno said some of the threats may seem petty, but when all of the issues add up, the protected inmates aren't treated with respect. "This has been happening since I came here, but we've attended meetings with facility staff and there's been no resolution or corrective action taken."

    Bruno said he is still waiting to begin treatment for his substance abuse.

    Doug Thomson, facility administrator of the Central North Correctional Centre, said the treatment program will begin soon.

    "Educational programming started on Jan. 14 by the Simcoe County Board of Education. Other programs available are substance abuse, anger management and recreation," said Thomson.

    Thomson said he was not aware of any other problems at the jail. "A lot of the inmates are complaining because they know the media is going to listen. They aren't happy being in custody and with the change. Our role is to take care of any legitimate issues," he said.

    He said he was surprised to hear complaints about urinating in the exercise yard. "All of these cells have washrooms in their cells or living area. If someone urinates in the exercise yard, that's unacceptable. I'd have to check on that, but I haven't heard anything about it."

    Thomson said he was expecting the jail to experience growing pains. "The facility itself is designed like a maximum-security facility and some inmates were used to a minimum-security setting. They're not overly thrilled with (coming here)."

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    January 24, 2002

    Corrections USA - Information Update

    We received this email this morning

    "For your info. Yesterday 1/22/02, 8 Officers were injured in a riot at the Green Bay Correctional Institute in Green Bay, WI. The news is that none of the Officers had any life threatening injuries, but numerous injuries were sustained. The riot started in the institutes south cell hall during the noon meal. No less than 40 to 50 inmates were involved. Cause is still being investigated. The institute is under full lock down at this time. GBCI phone number 920-432-4877. "

    Our best wishes for a speedy recovery for the Officers and their families. Anyone with additional information please forward it to our attention.

    Since July of 2001, just six months, there have been 13 escapes involving 19 inmates from private prisons and private transport. CCA lost 8 from secure facilities and 2 from its transport company Transcor. Cornell lost 5 from New Morgan Academy, Avalon lost 2 in Texas, Management and Training Corp. lost one in New Mexico an Extradition Inc. had a near miss in Ohio, the inmate escaped but was quickly captured.

    In addition there were no less than five indictments of private guards, numerous law suits over excessive force and sexual assault, 4 riots and several inmate protests. All in just six months. Private prisons lost, or they are losing contracts in California, North Carolina, Ohio and Nevada.

    Interested in working for a private prison?
    Correctional Service Corp. Boot Camp Drill Instructor \$7.46 hour - Texas
    Avalon Detention Center Guard \$7.00 hour - Texas
    Youth Services Inc. Summit View Detention Guard \$10.09 hour - Nevada
    Management & Training Co. Eagle Mnt. Comm. CF \$8.17 hour - California

    To the good:
    The Plymouth County Sheriffs Department in Plymouth Massachusetts raised over \$88,000 dollars for the 911 relief fund. The Officers there, members of ACE - The Association of County Employees, helped raise the funds and went with a group from the Sheriffs office to New York to present the check. Great job guys. Not bad for a 300 member department. It should be noted that ACE is a voting organizational member of Corrections USA and that they are the FIRST organization in CUSA to sign up all of their individual members as individual CUSA members as well! Leave it to the nations birthday place to be first yet again. Again great job.

    Let us know what your organization has done. Not just for the various 911 relief funds but all the good you do in your communities. Someone has to tell the world about all the good our profession does, but we can't unless you tell us. Stay safe

    Brian Dawe

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