Humpday Hall of Shame

Humpday Hall of Shame: Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Welcome to the Humpday Hall of Shame: every Wednesday we 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 we induct Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the powerful Democratic Congresswoman from Florida and chair of the Democratic National Committee for her support of a new Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) immigrant detention center in south Florida.

Corrections Corporation of America has done their part to win Congresswoman Wasserman Shultz's support, donating $1,000 to her campaign in April of this year.  Wasserman Schultz has received at least $7,250 in private prison donations since 1998, according to data accessed at TransparancyData.org and analyzed by Grassroots Leadership.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Corporations and Legislators Get Cozy in Arizona

Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

ALEC’s (The American Legislative Exchange Council’s) States & Nation Policy Summit in Phoenix, November 29th – December 3rd, 2011, is packing them in.  Corporations and elected officials are meeting at the posh Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, shown in the picture to the right.

 

What’s the attraction?  ALEC is a powerful group of corporate lobbyists, along with legislators, that draft legislation without oversight.  Learn more about ALEC from an NPR report.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: GEO Group Journeyman Joe Williams

Welcome to the Humpday Hall of Shame: every Wednesday we 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 inductee into the Humpday Hall of Shame is Joe Williams.  Williams' revolving door career demonstrates how the industry profits at taxpayer expense.  Williams is a former GEO Group warden who became the New Mexico Secretary of Corrections under Governor Bill Richardson.  Now, Williams is back at GEO Group as the head of that company's U.S. Corrections arm.

According to a recent article in the Albuquerque Tribune:

Williams came under scrutiny from New Mexico legislators last year for his decision not to fine GEO and another private prison operator for understaffing. A report by the Legislative Finance Committee at the time said there were potentially millions of dollars to be collected. [node:read-more:link]

Humpday Hall of Shame: CCA's Stewart Detention Center

Every Wednesday we 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, we focus not on an individual lawmaker, but on a private prison facility itself.  Meet Corrections Corporation of America's (CCA) Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia - our newest inductee into the Humpday Hall of Shame.

Stewart is the nation's largest immigrant detention center, and is located in state that recently passed a strict anti-immigrant law that is modeled after Arizona's infamous SB 1070.  As NPR reported ("Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law," October 28, 2010) last year, CCA actively helped draft SB 1070.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Texas Governor & Presidential Candidate Rick Perry

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.

While Texas Governor Rick Perry's record on criminal justice reform has been mixed, his cozy relationship with the private prison industry has raised eyebrows.   Texas has more private prisons, immigrant detention centers, and jails than any other state.

And, according to an article by Tim Murphy in Mother Jones ("Flush With Prison Industry Dollars, Rick Perry Pushed Privatized Prisoner Care," September 1), Perry has been a friend to the private prison industry:

"As governor, Perry, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, has supported privatizing everything from public lands to highways, but according to Scott Henson, a criminal-justice watchdog who runs the blog Grits for Breakfast, the governor had remained largely quiet on the prisons issue—until this year... [node:read-more:link]

Humpday Hall of Shame: Gladiator School

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 isn't even what we know of as a prison — this is a gulag."  -- Steven Pevar, ACLU Attorney

The Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) has a reputation as being one of the most violent correctional facilities in the nation, earning its nickname “The Gladiator School” from its inmates.  ICC was built almost a dozen years ago on state-owned property by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and was the first state-owned but privately run facility in the nation.  Since last year, Timothy Wengler has been warden at this facility of more than 2,000 medium security men.

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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." [node:read-more:link]

Humpday Hall of Shame: Rick Scott

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.

According to the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, the Sunshine State has seen a significant drop in crime over the past decade; violent crime by 

41% and property crime by 46%. And during this period of plummeting crime rates, the number of incarcerated rose from 47,012 in 1992 to 98,192 in 2008 and in June of 2010 there were 102,232 in custody in Florida’s 144 prison facilities. Approximately 8% of the prison population was housed in the state’s for-profit facilities at a cost to the taxpayer of approximately $133 million a year.

Florida Governor Rick Scott received generous contributions from the private prison industry.  The GEO Group contributed $400,000 to GOP candidates in the 2010 election cycle and the maximum $25,000 to the Governor’s Inaugural Fund.  In fact, politicians in Florida received nearly $1 million in campaign contributions from private prison corporations in that time frame. The Governor appointed top lobbyist, Brian Ballard, who works for both The GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, to his Inaugural Fund and Ballard reciprocated by raising $3million for the event.  Ballard has hosted fundraisers at his home where Governor Scott was the guest of honor.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: ALEC in Arizona

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.

“ALEC is unique in welcoming the private sector as an equal partner in creating model legislation.”  From New Model Legislation,” ALEC, 2009

“ALEC’s goal is to ensure that each of its legislative members is fully armed with the information, research, and ideas they need to be an ally of the free-market system.”

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) will bring legislators and corporations from all over the nation to consider ‘model’ legislation designed by and for the corporate members of ALEC. This is the group that offered up what would become Arizona’s SB1070, the egregious immigration law that put Arizona on the map as Ground Zero for reactive immigration policy.

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