Sunday, September 15, 2013

How Kentucky Stopped Using Private Prisons

Don't give the Justice Cabinet too much credit for this one; state officials let the horrific abuses at private prisons go on far too long, and still won't release the data showing how much money taxpayers wasted on privatization.

But here's hoping other states learn that you can reverse privatization.

Mike Wynn at the Courier:

For decades, Kentucky officials looked at private prisons as a cost-effective solution to an inmate population that exploded under “tough on crime” policies inthe 1980s and ’90s.

Even some critics of the industry acknowledged a need for private facilities as Kentucky’s incarceration rates soared past most other states’ and consumed an increasingly larger share of the state budget — more than $487 million in 2012.

But this month, as the Department of Corrections cuts ties with the largest prison company in the country and moves all remaining inmates to publicly run institutions, Kentucky’s 28-year venture with for-profit prisons is ending with a mixed legacy.

Officials say recent penal reforms and declining prisoner counts are behind the state’s decision not to renew its contract with Corrections Corp.of America, a Nashville-based firm that has operated three private prisons and held thousands of inmates in Kentucky since 1998, most recently at the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary.

“Our decision wasn’t based on an opinion of private prisons,” said Kentucky Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown. “CCA was a great partner. We could not have operated without that partnership while our (inmate) population was trending up.”

CCA estimates that it has saved the state millions of dollars — 12 percent to 24 percent in corrections costs, according to an industry-backed study — while employing hundreds of workers and boosting local economies.
"CCA estimates that it has saved the state millions of dollars."  No state documentation, of course, because it's not true. And those jobs are minimum wage, no-benefit, high-turnover dead-ends, unlike the good state jobs at public prisons.

Still, critics argue that outsourcing a key function of government to a private company raised significant issues, including criminal charges of sexual misconduct, poor health care and lawsuits at the CCA-run Otter Creek Correctional Center in Eastern Kentucky.
 No, not "sexual misconduct:" rape of inmates. Not "poor health care:" sick and injured inmates ignored to suffer and die.

It's happening in every private prison in the country, because that's how private prisons work.  They cannot make a profit unless they neglect and abuse inmates, under-pay untrained staff and rip off the taxpayers.

If Kentucky can finally throw out the motherfuckers, any state can.

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