Humpday Hall of Shame: CCA's Harley Lappin

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.

Today's inductee is Harley Lappin, the former chief of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) who "retired" this spring after a DUI arrest only to become the Cheif Correctional Officer" for private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America.  Here's how Walter Pavlo described the relationship in a recent Forbes Magazine column:

"On May 25, 2005, while Lappin was Director, the BOP awarded a $129 million contract to Corrections Corp. for management of a low-security federal factility in Youngstown, OH.  In April 2009, again while Lappin was Director, the BOP awarded Corrections Corp a contract to house criminal alien offenders at its facility in Adams County, Mississippi.  In fact, these are just a few of the awarded contracts to Corrections Corp. from federal agencies, including the BOP.  According to 10-K (SEC Annual Filing for 2010), the federal government accounts for 43% of the total revenue of the company.

... My hope is that Lappin will be the best Chief Corrections Officer that he can be without having to call in any favors from his old friends he made at the BOP.  Like I said, I’m HOPING."

We don't hold a lot of hope in this regard.  Our friends at Private Corrections Working Group sum up the problem with the private prison revolving door in their press release:

"Former BOP director Lappin’s decision to join CCA represents a continuing trend under the Obama administration of former senior federal employees taking jobs in an industry closely related to their government service. By hiring high-level former federal officials, companies can capitalize on their insider knowledge of government operations, contract requirements and other information that gives them an advantage when dealing with federal agencies.

This is particularly problematic in terms of prison operations, when companies such as CCA lobby heavily (spending approximately $1 million on the federal level alone) to influence legislation and obtain lucrative contracts to house federal prisoners in for-profit prisons."

We'll keep you posted on what those lucrative contracts may be.