Grassroots Leadership Blog

Humpday Hall of Shame: A Fox in the Henhouse?

Welcome to The Hump Day 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.

Right now New Hampshire is considering privatizing its entire public prison system.  Although this New England state’s prison population is relatively small compared to others’, we are concerned about the precedent that statewide privatization could set, being that no other state in the country has privatized its entire system, and we are worried about what opening this floodgate could mean for the rest of the region.

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Hump Day Hall of Shame: The Privatization of the Justice System Beyond Prisons

Welcome to The Hump Day 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.

In a recent blog post on GEO Care’s potentional take over of Kerrville State Hospital and private prison companies getting into the business of mental health care, Jim Rigby, a well-known progressive Presbyterian minister in Austin, wrote, “When one lives in a capitalist culture where everything is for sale, one get(s) used to privatization.”

This led to me wonder where else privatization and profit are driving forces in the justice system beyond the movement to privatize prisons and immigration detention centers.   Per Rigby’s statement, I found myself looking at two issues that are rarely scrutinized for the private aspects of their practice; the businesses of debt collection and writing bail bonds.  It seems as though, in our culture, we have accepted as a norm the delivery of these services as being in the purview of business and not core government functions.   As it turns out, just like prisons, both debt collection and bail bonds have been built into industries in which private businesses are able to make a profit off of individuals’ interaction with the criminal justice system, and so their interest is in ensuring a consistent flow of “customers” in their direction.  It also turns out that there are alternatives. [node:read-more:link]

Privatizing Kerrville State Hospital is Unconscionable

Over the weekend the Houston Chronicle ran this editorial by Maria Ramos, a mental health expert and board member of the ACLU of Texas.  The first line reads, “There's a scandal waiting to happen if GEO Care gets its hands on another Texas mental health hospital,” and we agree.  GEO’s history in Texas of mismanaging prison and health care facilities has been well-documented.  Back in 2011 the San Antonio Current, a local weekly publication, ran an excellent piece on GEO’s expansion in Texas and featured “GEO Group Texas Death Watch,” a timeline of deaths in GEO-run facilities in Texas since 1999.

Over the weekend the Houston Chronicle ran this editorial by Maria Ramos, a mental health expert and board member of the ACLU of Texas.  The first line reads, “There's a scandal waiting to happen if GEO Care gets its hands on another Texas mental health hospital,” and we agree.  GEO’s history in Texas of mismanaging prison and health care facilities has been well-documented.  Back in 2011 the San Antonio Current, a local weekly publication, ran an excellent piece on GEO’s expansion in Texas and featured “GEO Group Texas Death Watch,” a timeline of deaths in GEO-run facilities in Texas since 1999.

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Grassroots Leadership Welcomes Piper Madison

Grassroots Leadership is pleased to welcome Piper Madison to our team in the Austin office.  Piper comes to us through the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.'s Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) Program, which matches young adults with non-profits for a year of service.  This is the first year that Austin is hosting participants in the program. The goals of the YAV program include: to experience living in intentional Christian community; to focus on spiritual formation; to engage young adults in the [Presbyterian] church’s mission; to assist YAVs in vocational discernment; to be present in communities of need and to facilitate young adults’ engagement in communities of need.

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Who gains if GEO Care takes over Kerrville State Hospital?

You already know who doesn’t want Texas to contract with GEO Care, a division of private prison corporation GEO Group, to take over the Kerrville State Hospital.  With our partners and allies at other organizations, Grassroots Leadership sent a letter in opposition to privatization to Governor Rick Perry.  Community members from around the state have also signed on to our petition calling on the Governor to cancel the bidding process.   We have cited numerous potential problems if the Texas Department of State Health Services turns over control of the hospital to GEO Care.

Based on GEO’s history in Texas and beyond, we are concerned about what contracting with the for-profit prison company will mean for patient care at Kerrville State Hospital, for the safety of the employees that work there, and for the community of Kerrville that could see significant downsizing of jobs at the hospital. GEO has promised to cut operating costs there by 10%.

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Hump Day Hall of Shame: As Arizona faces firestorm of criticism over private prison contract, ADC moves to privatize re-entry

Co-Authored by Caroline Isaacs, director of the AFSC's Arizona Program in Tucson 

You may have seen a lot of press recently about the announcement that Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) will make this Friday, awarding a contract for construction and management of up to 2,000 prison beds to one of five private, for-profit prison corporations.

Arizona advocates have engaged the support of state and national organizations to oppose Arizona’s planned expansion of its for-profit prison beds.  This week Grassroots Leadership added its name to a letter addressed to Arizona governor Jan Brewer, along with over 50 other organizations, faith leaders, and elected officials in an effort to block the award of a new private prison contract.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: GEO Group aims for take-over of Texas state hospital

Welcome to The Hump Day 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.

In Texas, where both incarceration and immigrant detention rates soar, we’re accustomed to scrutinizing the state’s privatization efforts of these facilities.  However, there’s a new trend afoot in our state; privatizing state mental health facilities under the guise of cost savings to taxpayers, and Texas is turning over control of these facilities to companies that run for-profit prisons to provide care and safety to our state’s mentally ill population.

The state is currently considering a bid to privatize a state-run psychiatric facility by GEO Care, who promises to save the state millions of dollars a year.  

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Arizona Guarantees Occupancy at More Expensive Private Prisons

Welcome to The Hump Day 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 return to Arizona, familiar territory for our Humpday Hall of Shame.   Not only did private prison corporations reportedly play a role in driving that's state's harsh anti-immigrant law, now comes a two-part expose on the Arizona Departement of Corrections-contracted private prisons from the American Friends Service Committee.

In Part I of their series, they show that not only do for-profit prisons not save money, but that state officials have known that fact for quite some time.  However state law had mandated that-profit prison corporations show cost savings during the competitive bidding process before a contract is awarded.

In Part II, AFSC shows private prison contracts in Arizona have been amended to  promise 100% occupancy of private facilities.  See excerpts from the report after the jump.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Idaho set to send prisoners out-of-state again?

Welcome to The Hump Day 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 return to Idaho, a familiar location for the Humpday Hall of Shame.  Back in April, we reported that Idaho, despite a long run of horror stories and lawsuits involving private prison corporations, continues to contract with private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).   CCA operates the Idaho Correctional Center, a facility with a reputation so violent that it has earned the nickname “Gladiator School” from people incarcerated there.

Now, Idaho is looking to export prisoners to a CCA prison in Colorado.  See more from an AP article after the jump.

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