Grassroots Leadership Blog

Teamsters challenge Florida prison privatization effort

A plan to privatize up to 30 south Florida prisons has run into more opposition. Here's what the Teamsters Union has to say about it:

"Florida policymakers' push to privatize a huge part of its prison system has drawn the wrath of the Teamsters union, which announced Wednesday that it had filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Rick Scott.

The complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics says Scott's privatization push is "tainted" because he accepted $30,000 for his inaugural committee from the two largest companies vying for the contracts, the GEO Group and Corrections Corp. of America. The companies also contributed more than $1 million to candidates in 2010, it says.

It also says Scott has a conflict of interest because the State Board of Administration, which he chairs, owns $10 million in stock in the two companies in the state pension fund." (Orlando Sentinal, September 14, 2011)

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Private Prison Power Couple

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll be highlighting the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

Rarely do we have the opportunity to induct a husband and wife team into the Hump Day Hall of Shame.  Paul Senseman, formerly Governor Jan Brewer’s Chief of staff and his wife Kathryn (Kathy), a lobbyist for the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), offer us such an opportunity. [node:read-more:link]

AFSC files suit to postpone Arizona private prison contract

 

We’ve been following Arizona’s request for proposals (RFP) from private corporations to build 5,000 new private prison beds. We've also documented the cozy ties between many Arizona legislators and prison officials with the private prison industry and its lobbyists.

So, it was welcome news yesterday to see that the American Friends Service Committee, who has been leading a charge against prison privatization in Arizona, has filed suit to postpone the RFP.  Read the AFSC's rationale from their press release after the jump.

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Humpday Hall of Shame – AZ State Senator Ron Gould

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll be highlighting the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

This week’s Hump Day Hall of Shame inductee is Ron Gould, who has served in the Arizona State Senate since 2005.  He hails from Lake Havasu where he served on the City Council.  Gould is a small businessman who owns “Air Conditioning Guy”, a heating and cooling company.  His district includes the city of Kingman, home of the infamous MTC prison.

His trajectory in the Senate is impressive:

And his politics are steeped in the Tea Party.  If you look closely at his laptop, you will see the Gadsden flag with the “Don’t Tread on Me” logo — an emblem of the Tea Party movement.

True to his conservative beliefs and connections Senator Ron Gould, as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, refused to hear bills on private prison oversight or sentencing reform.  In response he said that he “did not believe these bills are necessary.”  Take look at the bills after the jump.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Arizona Director of Corrections Charles Ryan

Welcome to The Humpday Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

This week’s Hall of Shame inductee is Charles Ryan, current Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) director.  Ryan is currently charged with deciding which for-profit prison corporation will win the State of Arizona’s RFP for 5,000 additional for-profit prison beds.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Former Arizona DOC Director & MTC Consultant Terry Stewart

Welcome to The Humpday Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

This week's Hall of Shame inductee is Terry Stewart, former Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) director and current Management and Training Corporation consultant.   Over the past several weeks, Stewart has reportedly been at all five community hearings debating bids on the State of Arizona's RFP for a 5,000-bed for-profit prison expansion.  MTC is one of four private prison corporations attempting to secure a contract under the bid for the new private prisons.

Terry Stewart has quite the resume.  He served as ADOC director from 1995 until 2002.  His second-in-command was none other than current ADOC director Charles Ryan, the man who is now in charge of awarding the contracts for the new private prison beds.   In those days, dissatisfied correctional officers referred to Stewart as "The Emperor" and Deputy Director Charles Ryan as "Darth Vader," according to an article in the Phoenix New Times ("The Vampire Strikes Back," August 8, 2002).

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Rediscovering Arizona - Abuse in Immigration Detention Centers

We have dedicated much of our blog this month to the State of Arizona and its connection to private prisons, ICE-contracted immigrant detention and policy makers tied to bad legislation.  The ACLU of Arizona, in its latest report, adds to the narrative some of the voices within this epic and historic struggle for justice.

From Victoria Lopez, ACLU of Arizona:

Earlier this summer, the ACLU of Arizona released a report documenting the cases of men and women who have suffered from abuses related to inhumane conditions and inadequate legal protections in Arizona ICE detention centers. The report, “In Their Own Words: Enduring Abuse in Arizona Immigration Detention Centers,” is based on 115 interviews with people detained in Eloy and Florence, Arizona, correspondence with detainees and their family members, and review of hundreds of government records, including more than 500 grievances.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Arizona's Andy Biggs

Welcome to The Humpday Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll be high-lighting  the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

Retired attorney and veteran legislator Andy Biggs, Arizona’s Senate Majority Leader, is a powerhouse. He is Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Judiciary and Government Reform Committees, serves on the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Criminal Justice and the Joint Committee on Capital Review. Americans for Prosperity have designated Biggs as a “Champion of the Taxpayer” and the Goldwater Institute has honored him as a “Friend of Liberty.”

In 1993, Biggs won $10 million in the American Family Sweepstakes. His windfall, however, hasn’t made him sympathetic to those less fortunate. 

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Arizona State Representative Debbie Lesko

Welcome to The Humpday Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll be high-lighting  the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

This week’s inductee is Arizona State Representative Debbie Lesko.  Lesko, (R), District 9, not only serves the State of Arizona and her constituents as Vice Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and as a member of the Rules Committee, she is the Arizona public sector chairwoman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  For those of you who are unfamiliar with ALEC, it helped author of Arizona’s SB1070, Arizona's tough new immigration law (read more at NPR).

ALEC’s Board boasts members from Bayer, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Reynolds
, Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson, Energy Future Holdings, PhRMA, Kraft Foods
, American Bail Coalition, Pfizer, Reed-Elsevier, DIAGEO, AT&T, Peabody Energy, Koch Brothers, Altria Client Services, Exxon Mobil
, Salt River Project, Amoco, Chevron, Coors Brewing Company, Shell, Texaco, Chlorine Chemistry Council, Union Pacific Railroad, Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, Waste Management, Philip Morris Management Corporation and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.  Koch Industries has been a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council for more than twenty years.

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