The Nisqually Jail is intended to generate income for the operators. What is the jail’s working relationship will be with Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Let’s keep an eye on the seamy for profit schemes that are part of the prison for profit playbook Much of the planning for the jail is cloaked in secrecy. We need a clear statement from the Nisqually Tribe on how it intends to make its money and the types of prisoners it will hold.
Jailing Undocumented Immigrants Is Big Business (VIDEO)
LOS ANGELES — At dawn on July 19, nearly 40 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Immigration (HSI) agents burst into the home home of Carmen Bonilla, 44. The agents were searching for “Robert” an alleged drug dealer, but ended up terrifying Bonilla and her son Michael, 16, daughter Josefina, 23, daughter-in-law Leticia, 28, and two of her granddaughters.
According to Jessica Dominguez, the family’s lawyer, and Jorge Mario Cabrera, spokesperson of the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the family was subjected to “different levels of physical and verbal abuse,” including screaming, “kicking, beating and aggression.” Their treatment was documented last week by HuffPost LatinoVoices’ Jorge Luis Macías.
What happened to the Bonillas has happened to thousands of immigrant families. Immigration authorities — both local police and federal ICE agents — have embarked on a program to seek out “criminal illegal aliens” and, whether they find them or not, have often rounded up entire families for deportation.
Even though the Bonilla family members do not have criminal records, they face removal proceedings before an immigration judge. The family was able to find legal representation and general public support, enabling their release from ICE custody, but undocumented immigrants who are less lucky are routinely sent to prisons and detention centers where ICE will process their paperwork and decide whether they may be released.
“If they have a criminal record, particularly a drug or security-related conviction, or a felony or violent crime, or crime of moral turpitude, they will likely have to remain in custody until their trial before the [immigration judge],” explained Aggie R. Hoffman, an immigration attorney.
The Department of Homeland Security pays between $50 to $200 per day per person to local, county and state prisons to house apprehended aliens. A few years ago, a series I wrote for La Opinión showed how prisons in general, and California’s prisons in particular, benefit from the largesse of the federal government and vie for a piece of this lucrative business. At that time, I visited a detention center in Lancaster, Calif., run by the Sheriff of Los Angeles, where immigrants rounded up in raids were housed until their deportation or legal proceedings. The process is supposed to take just a few days, but some of the detainees rushed to tell me that they had been kept there for more than two years.
“This happens frequently because the courts are so backlogged; not enough judges to hear the cases of those being held”, explained Hoffman.
But the incarceration trend is not limited to public prisons. Thanks to a concerted lobbying push from the corrections industry, growing numbers of undocumented immigrants could end up in private detention facilities.
Over the past three years, immigration politics has seen more restrictive legislation at the state level and the unprecedented enforcement of current laws by the Obama administration. Together, the laws and the stepped up enforcement have the potential to bring tens of thousands of individuals into for-profit jails.
The recent animated video “Immigrants for Sale” by the activist group Cuéntame illustrates some facts behind the connection between the ongoing crackdown on illegal immigration and the for-profit corrections industry.
The video follows the trail of money and political power behind this piece of the national immigration debate. Its creators say it’s an attempt to uncover what lies behind the positions and ideologies in a discussion in which statements and accusations made at maximum volume have long replaced the open exchange of ideas and opinions.
“Cuéntame means ‘tell me your story,’” said the group’s founder, producer/director Axel Woolfolk Caballero. He said the organization works to make an impact through short videos, docu-series, media campaigns and “interviews from the street or in our studio or sent to us by others.” Cuéntame is part of the Brave New Foundation, which focuses on social justice media.
The video states that behind the words and laws, there is an alliance of businesses and politicians called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Some of ALEC’s members are both the most ardent proponents of anti-immigration laws and representatives of the industries that will benefit directly from having more people behind bars. At least 12 companies involved in the corrections industry are members of the alliance.
ALEC was created in 1978 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. According to the group’s mission statement, it is “a non-profit, private organization dedicated to principles of free markets, limited government, federalism (the proper balance of federal and state government), and individual liberty.” ALEC achieves these aims through a exchange of ideas between state politicians and business leaders, facilitating the legislative process around certain causes dear to the latter. Through one of ALEC’s eight committees, lawyers and business experts actually write laws that are later enacted almost verbatim.
Each year, ALEC produces approximately 1000 legislative proposals, 20 percent of which eventually become laws, according to the group. The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch reports: “98% of ALEC’s funding comes from corporations like Exxon Mobil, corporate ‘foundations’ like the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, or trade associations like the pharmaceutical industry’s PhRMA.”
Cuéntame focuses on ALEC members’ use of political pressure to achieve more restrictive immigration laws, which require longer detentions and a larger number of detainees.
Some of ALEC’s model bills include the “three Strikes” law, changes in mandatory minimum sentences and “truth-in-sentencing,” which would further eliminate the possibility of parole for many inmates.
Yet ALEC rejects the idea that it promotes increased construction of private prisons. In a statement last October, the group said, “ALEC’s position on prison overcrowding … is to reduce the non-violent prison population in order to save taxpayer costs.”
One of the best known legislative members of ALEC is State Senator Russell Pearce, a proponent of Arizona’s very restrictive immigration law, SB 1070. According to an investigation by NPR, Pearce took his version of the legislation to an ALEC meeting, where it was then revised and adapted by members of the corrections industry, obtaining their unqualified support.
SB 1070 has been imitated by similar laws — some even stricter and more encompassing — in at least five other states. These include HB 56 in Alabama, Utah’s Compact / HB 497, Indiana’s SB 590, Georgia’s HB 87 and South Carolina’s S 20.
ALEC is now working on a series of laws concerning prisons, including The Housing Out-of-State Prisoners in a Private Prison Act; The Prison Industries Act; The Inmate Labor Disclosure Act; A Resolution on Prison Expenditures; a Model State Bill Prohibiting Wireless Handsets in Prisons; the Targeted Contracting for Certain Correctional Facilities and Services Act; and the Prevention of Illegal Payments to Inmates Incentives Act, details of which are restricted to ALEC members only.
One of ALEC’s members is Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest for-profit prison company, founded in 1983. CCA designs, builds, manages and operates correctional facilities and detention centers on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Marshal Service in nearly half of all states, according to the company’s website.
According to Cuéntame, CCA houses about 60 percent of the almost 100,000 — up from 14,000 in 2006 — immigrant detainees at any given time.
In 2008, the New Yorker published an expose drawing attention businesses involved in the imprisonment of families with children in the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Texas, a CCA facility.
CCA, together with other prison companies GEO Group and Management and Training Corporation, owns more than 200 private prisons with 150,000 beds and makes an annual profit of $5 billion, Cuéntame found.
“Private prisons profit like a hotel,” the video states. “The more occupants they can throw in, the more money comes out.”
Private Prison Companies Want You Locked Up
Published: June 22, 2011
Private Prison Companies Want You Locked Up
New report highlights political strategies of companies working to make money through harsh policies and longer sentences
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Over the past 15 years, the number of people held in all prisons in the United States has increased by 49.6 percent, while private prison populations have increased by 353.7 percent, according to recent federal statistics. Meanwhile, in 2010 alone, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, the two largest private prison companies, had combined revenues of $2.9 billion. According to a report released today by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), not only have private prison companies benefitted from this increased incarceration, but they have helped fuel it.
Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies, examines how private prison companies are able to wield influence over legislators and criminal justice policy, ultimately resulting in harsher criminal justice policies and the incarceration of more people. The report notes a “triangle of influence” built on campaign contributions, lobbying and relationships with current and former elected and appointed officials. Through this strategy, private prison companies have gained access to local, state, and federal policymakers and have back-channel influence to pass legislation that puts more people behind bars, adds to private prison populations and generates tremendous profits at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.
“For-profit companies exercise their political influence to protect their market share, which in the case of corporations like GEO Group and CCA primarily means the number of people locked up behind bars,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of JPI. “We need to take a hard look at what the cost of this influence is, both to taxpayers and to the community as a whole, in terms of the policies being lobbied for and the outcomes for people put in private prisons. That their lobbying and political contributions is funded by taxpayers, through their profits on government contracts, makes it all the more important that people understand the role of private prisons in our political system.”
Paul Ashton, principle author of Gaming the System, noted, “This report is built on concrete examples of the political strategies of private prison companies. From noting campaign donations, $835,514 to federal candidates and $6,092,331 to state-level candidates since 2000, to the proposed plan from Ohio Governor John Kasich to privatize five Ohio prisons followed by the appointment of a former CCA employee to run the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Gaming the System shows that private prison companies’ interests lie in promoting their business through maintaining political relationships rather than saving taxpayer dollars and effectively ensuring public safety.”
Other organizations have also investigated the private prison industry and have their own serious concerns about their political influence. “In the South and Southwest, the private prison industry has consistently targeted poor communities,” said Bob Libal the Texas Campaigns Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership. “We believe that it’s important to fight, particularly in these communities, to end for-profit incarceration and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention, and ultimately build lasting movements for social justice. This important report helps shed light onto this particularly troubling industry.”
Shakyra Diaz, policy director of ACLU of Ohio added, “Research has shown that private prisons do not save taxpayer dollars and can in fact cost taxpayers more than public prisons. Additionally, privatizing prisons may undermine cost effective sentencing reforms and increase recidivism rates. Despite these well-documented concerns, private prison companies continue to promote policies that put money in their pockets and people behind bars.”
If states and the federal government are interested in providing cost-effective, proven public safety strategies, investments in private prison companies will not help achieve that goal. Gaming the System includes a number of recommendations for criminal justice policies that are cost-effective and will improve public safety:
- States and the federal government should look for real solutions to the problem of growing jail and prison populations. A number of states are already utilizing innovative strategies for reducing the number of people behind bars in their state. Reducing the number of people entering the justice system, and the amount of time that they spend there, can lower prison populations, making private, for-profit prisons unnecessary, and improving public safety and the lives of individuals.
- Invest in front-end treatment and services in the community, whether private or public. Research shows that education, employment, drug treatment, health care, and the availability of affordable housing coincide with better outcomes for all people, whether involved in the criminal justice system or not. Jurisdictions that spend more money on these services are likely to experience lower crime rates and lower incarceration rates. An increase in spending on education, employment and other services not only would improve public safety, but also would enhance and enrich communities and individual life outcomes.
- Additional research is needed to effectively evaluate the cost and recidivism reduction claims of the private prison industry. With conflicting research on both the cost savings and recidivism reduction of private prisons, additional research is needed to determine the accuracy of such claims. Moreover, a clearer dialogue surrounding the difficulties of comparative research between private and public facilities would also be beneficial in providing a better understanding of the implications of prison privatization.
“Private prison companies have been very successful in their effort to promote harsher sentencing policies and the privatization of correctional systems, and when they win, we all lose,” added Velázquez. “Taxpayers lose when their money is used to generate profits for shareholders and to promote policies that increase incarceration; communities lose when policies proven to be ineffective for public safety are pushed through state legislatures, and people involved in the criminal justice system lose when they are locked up in underfunded and sometimes unsafe facilities.”
The incentives are backwards when we let profit seeking jails make money from incarcerating prisoners.
Let’s concentrate on education, employment, drug treatment, health care, and affordable housing.
Focus on innovative strategies to reduce the need to keep people behind bars.
Make recidivism reduction a real goal with a real emphasis on rehabilitation.
Comments from the You Tube post:
I hate to tell all of you haters this but the video is pretty much spot on. I worked for CCA for ten years at local and corporate levels. I saw inmates beaten, spanked and sprayed at close range for sport. Many of the staff would not be fit to watch your pets. It is a Texas based correctional philosophy. We treat many inmates more like cattle than people. The fact is that our system does not work. We are locking people up for profit, most of them will return to society
If a business entity stands to gain by doing something it will do it. In this case that something is incarcerating people, the C.E.O.s and executives have pull with politicians and local officials. So now there is a corporation (business entity) that has its greedy fingers in the justice system. So what do you think is going to happen? People are going to go to prison for longer, and go when they shouldn’t have gone at all, in the name of profit.
Excellent video! Succinct and accurate.The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but over 23% of the world’s incarcerated people. The United States incarcerates the largest number of people in the world. The U.S. incarceration rate is four times the world average. The US now has a prison population larger than the 35 largest European countries combined. One in every 28 children in the US has a parent behind bars — up from 1 in 125 just 25 years ago.
and it doesn’t bother you that these corrections corporations are the ones lobbying for and funding the ” three strikes” and “truth in sentencing” laws that get people life sentences for crimes like car theft? or how about that the private prisons then sell prison labor to other companies? does it bother you at all that the tiny share of wages the inmates get to keep gets taken right back by their “company store” prison commissaries? at what point do we stop denying this is slavery?
The more we learn about private prisons,
the more we understand how they don’t belong in America.
An interview with Paul Wright , the editor of Prison Legal News on the topic of making money from locking people up
Notes from the video:
Who benefits from prison labor and prison profits?
The US spends 80 billion dollars a year on health care.
The irony is that corporations want prison labor but not the publicity that comes with it.
Nintendo does not want you to know that sex offenders have been packing products for children.
The health care providers to these prisons charge a set cost per prisoner and increase their profits by under-serving inmates.
Prison telephone calls are a one billion dollar a year.
The states get kickbacks from telephone companies.
The incentives for the state are to select the company that pays the largest kickback for the service.
The incentives for the company are to provide the lowest cost service that meets the minimal terms of the contract.
There is almost no oversight on the operations of the corporations that profit from providing services to prisons.
Number of rebellions and rapes are higher in for profit prisons because of cheap labor and overcrowding.
States stipulate a description of service but there is no funding or interest in monitoring the quality of service provided.
The big boom now for private prisons is juveniles and immigration.
Kids are more difficult to incarcerate. Children need education, mental health services and rehabilitation, so jailing kids is hard for states to do.
Private corporations say, pay us more and we will take care of your juveniles.
How can one side of a fence have such a high level of environmental restriction….. and the other side have so little?
A resident that shares a fence with the Nisqually jail talks about the lengthy application process, the requirement for approval from adjacent property owners, and stack of paperwork just to put in a water pond. They follow strict building limitations and prohibitions on chemicals and fertilizer- as described below..
And yet six hundred bed dormatories, a warehouse, a waste treatment facility, support building, court house, fire station, store, a community residential community and commercial development along HWY 510 are planned by their neighbors across the fence without formal notification.
LACEY MUNICIPAL CODE A Codification of the General Ordinances of the City of Lacey, Washington Title 16: ZONING Chapter 16.10  McALLISTER SPRINGS GEOLOGICALLY SENSITIVE AREA RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT Sections: 16.10.010 Intent 16.10.020 Permitted uses 16.10.030 Prohibited uses 16.10.035 Density 16.10.040 Environmental performance standards 16.10.050 Lot area 16.10.060 Off‑street parking 16.10.070 Landscaping 16.10.080 Stormwater runoff 16.10.010 Intent. It is the intent of this chapter to: A. Protect the McAllister Springs Geologically Sensitive Area by provision of sewer and application of strong water quality standards for residential uses. B. Provide density opportunities that will make provision of sewer economically attractive and accelerate installation of sewer to this area. C. Enhance residential quality of the city by providing a high standard of development for single family residential development at urban densities. (Ord. 1024 §24, 1995). 16.10.020 Permitted uses. A. Specific types permitted in the low density residential district: 1. Single‑family structures on individual lots; 2. Planned residential developments as provided in Chapter 16.60; 3. Townhouse developments as provided in Chapter 16.61; 4. Condominiums provided the design requirements of Chapter 14.23 are met; 5. A limited percentage (up to five percent of total lots) of two and three family units provided design requirements of Chapter 14.23 are satisfied; 6. Housing for people with functional disabilities. B. Other or related uses permitted: 1. Accessory buildings or structures clearly incidental to the residential use of the lot, such as buildings or structures for storage of personal property (including boats, recreational vehicles, etc.), or for the pursuit of avocational interests; or structures designed for and related to recreational needs of the residents of a residential complex; 2. Accessory Dwelling as defined in Section 16.06.055; 3. Special and conditional uses as provided in Chapter 16.66 of this title, subject to conditional use review; 4. The keeping of common household animals or pets, provided that their keeping does not constitute a nuisance or hazard to the peace, health and welfare of the community in general and neighbors in particular; 5. Family day care homes as provided in Chapter 16.65; 6. Home occupations, provided Health Department approves the use; 7. Agricultural uses as limited under Section 16.10.040C. (Ord. 1024 §24, 1995). 16.10.030 Prohibited uses. Uses other than those identified or described in Section 16.10.020 are prohibited. (Ord. 1024 §24, 1995). 16.10.035 Density. When sewer is provided, density may range from not less than three to no more than six units per acre. When sewer is not provided, a density of no greater than one unit per five acres is allowed. (Ord. 1024 §24, 1995). 16.10.040 Environmental performance standards. A. Permitted uses shall create no noise, emissions, odors or other nuisances which are demonstrably disruptive or disturbing to other residences in the area, or which are of a quality or quantity not normally associated with residential use. B. Accessory buildings shall be complementary to the basic architectural character of the main building on the lot, or appropriate to the accessory use. C. Agricultural uses shall be limited as follows: On lots or parcels of one acre or more, poultry and/or livestock may be kept provided that the number of head of livestock shall not exceed one for each half acre of lot area, and not more than twenty birds or fowl per acre; and further that barns or other structures for the housing or sheltering thereof be set back not less than thirty-five feet from all property lines. In addition, agricultural uses shall employ best management practices, such as may be included in a farm plan developed by the Thurston Conservation District, to prevent contamination of the McAllister Springs Geologically Sensitive Area groundwater resources. D. Special and conditional uses shall comply with the development standards described for such uses in Chapter 16.66. E. All uses shall comply with the applicable environmental performance standards of Chapter 16.57. F. All subdivisions and short subdivisions shall be required to have protective covenants adopted as a condition of approval that inform future residents of proper water quality safeguards for the aquifer sensitive area considering such issues as pesticide and herbicide use, handling and disposal of petroleum wastes, etc. The covenants shall be approved by the Thurston County Environmental Health Department. (Ord. 1024 §24, 1995). 16.10.050 Lot area. A. The size and shape of single family detached lots shall be as follows, provided they adhere to the density requirements and are located on sewer: 1. Minimum lot area, four thousand five hundred square feet where alleys are utilized; five thousand square feet where alleys are not provided; 2. Minimum lot width, forty feet where alleys are utilized, fifty feet where alleys are not provided; 3. Minimum front yard: Ten feet with a ten foot planter strip between the street and sidewalk when alleys are provided for rear lot access. Twenty feet with a standard planter strip when alleys are not provided for rear lot access. On front yard flanking streets, ten feet; 4. Minimum side yards: Minimum on one side, five feet, Minimum total both sides, ten feet provided a zero lot line concept may be approved if the following standards are met: a. The site is part of a subdivision or PRD where a zero lot line concept has been approved and the site has, as part of the approval process, undergone design review; b. The site utilizes alleys with the majority of units using alleys for access; c. Reserved. 5. Minimum rear yard, fifteen feet provided garages may be within three feet of the rear yard line or easement when adjacent to an alley. B. Lots intended for attached single family development or condominiums shall be served by sewer and reviewed and approved through a subdivision, townhouse, or PRD process where the concept is identified and reviewed and approved subject to design requirements of Chapter 14.23. C. Other lot standards for all uses on sewer: 1. Maximum building area coverage, sixty percent; 2. Maximum developmental coverage, seventy five percent; 3. Maximum height: Main building and accessory dwelling, thirty-five feet, Accessory building, sixteen feet; 4. Accessory buildings. All accessory buildings must comply with the building setbacks as stated in this chapter; provided, however, if the accessory building is less than two hundred square feet, the following setbacks are permitted: Front yard, same as required for main structures, Side yard: five feet, Rear yard, three feet. D. The size and shape and restrictions for lots not on sewer shall be as follows: 1. The lots shall be clustered and located in a configuration that will provide the opportunity for future redivision and for easier servicing of sewer once sewer is provided to the site; 2. Maximum lot area shall be the minimum amount of land required for an included lot with septic tank drainfield system provided one reserve lot (a parcel reserved for future subdivision when sewer is available) is allowed with no maximum size restriction; 3. Minimum lot area five thousand square feet; 4. Maximum density is one unit per five acres; 5. The size of lots may require a community drainfield. The community system must meet all Thurston County Health Department requirements and should be designed and installed in a way to provide the opportunity for easier conversion in the event sewer becomes available to the site at a later date; 6. Subdivisions and short subdivisions shall be approved with a condition stated both on the face of the plat or short plat and in protective covenants that once sewer becomes available to any exterior boundary of the plat or short plat sewer shall be required to be installed to serve all lots at lot owners’ cost. This condition may be accomplished by waiver of LID protest performed in conjunction with final plat approval, lot sales, or issuance of building permits, whichever the city determines is most effective. (Ord. 1220 §4, 2004; Ord. 1179 §1, 2002; Ord. 1024 §24, 1995). 16.10.060 Off‑street parking. Off‑street parking shall be provided in accordance with Chapter 16.72 of this title. (Ord. 1024 §24, 1995). 16.10.070 Landscaping. Landscaping is required for the purpose of minimizing surface water runoff and diversion, preventing soil erosion, and promoting the aesthetic character of the community. Natural vegetation, ground cover, stands of trees or shrubs existing prior to development of the site may be acceptable to meet the landscaping requirement pursuant to Chapter 14.32 of the city’s Tree and Vegetation Protection Ordinance. Areas which have been cleared of vegetation or ground cover prior to or during construction, and which are not otherwise developed, shall be landscaped with trees, shrubs and suitable ground cover. Suitable materials for ground cover are those which permit rainwater infiltration of the soil, and may include sod, ivy, or similar vegetative materials. (Ord. 1024 §24, 1995). 16.10.080 Stormwater runoff. All stormwater runoff shall be retained and disposed of on site, or disposed of in a system designed for runoff and which does not flood or damage adjacent properties. Systems designed for runoff retention and control shall comply with specifications provided by the city and shall be subject to its review and approval, and shall, moreover, comply with Chapter 15.36 of the Lacey Municipal Code pertaining to community facilities. Stormwater generated on site shall not cause pollution to any surface or ground waters, or violate local, state, or federal standards governing the quality of such waters. Particular care in design and maintenance shall be given to proper treatment of water prior to absorption into ground water to prevent any contamination of McAllister Springs Geologically Sensitive Area groundwater resources. (Ord. 1024 §24, 1995).
Dear Governor Gregoire,
Thank you for providing a written response to our concerns over the Nisqually Jail.
This development has proceeded so rapidly and with very little transparency such that public information about this project has been difficult to find.
I respectfully suggest that there are areas of concern where Washington State can not say, “This is not a venture under state contracts and authority.”
Environmental oversight of the adjoining land should be a concern of the State of Washington. Especially when the sensitive land in question is under a contractual joint stewardship of water quality between the City of Olympia and the Nisqually Tribe- which selectively waves it right of sovereign immunity within the parameters of that legal document.
1) The Nisqually Safety Complex is built on “ Spanaway gravelly sandy loam, 0 to 3 percent slopes (USDA,2010) These soils are described as very deep, somewhat excessively drained soils that formed in glacial outwash and volcanic ash.”(Nisqually Public Safety Environmental Assessment Report)
2) The Nisqually Safety Complex is being built on the border of The McAllister Geologically Sensitive Area in which development is highly regulated by Lacey Municipal Code.
3) There is the real possibility that the geography of the construction site should also be classified as a geologically sensitive site as it was a Fort Lewis property and thus exempted from classification when the map of geologically sensitive areas was being drawn up.
4) The Environmental assessment report only evaluates for phase I. at 290 beds, and additional NEPA reports will be required as it grows to over 600 beds.
5) The City of Olympia’s primary source of pure drinking water will be the McAllister wellfield which lies less than a mile from the safety complex.
6) The level of nearby Lake St Clair and local wells will be lowered by projected water usage and the mitigation plan’s adequacy should be independently evaluated
7) Additional aggressive development is planned by the Nisqually Tribe in this ecologically vunerable area which borders the McAllister Springs Geologically Sensitive Area Residential District. Much residential community and commercial development is being planned that is not addressed in the assessment report.
I ask the State of Washington to take a comprehensive and in depth objective look at the entire Nisqually master plan for development in light of the implication for ground water contamination and depletion on non-tribal land, and make public its findings
The region’s water quality is not compartmentalized by political boundary lines on the land’s surface.
Thank you again for your attention, We will keep you informed as we learn more facts about the origins and workings of this public private partnership and its impact on Washington State citizens.
Thank you for contacting Governor Gregoire to share your concerns about the Nisqually Jail Complex being constructed in your community.
This is a project of the Nisqually Tribe, which is regarded by local, state, and federal governments as a sovereign nation due to long-standing treaties, laws, and presidential declarations. Funding comes primarily from federal grants and loans and the project has received the approval of appropriate entities to move forward. This is not a venture under state contracts and authority.
On the other hand, the Thurston County Jail is a local project under county authority. Its future is the responsibility of your locally-elected county commissioners.
Thanks again for your message.
Office of Governor Christine O. Gregoire
Here is one more reason why private for-profit jails are a bad idea.
Private Prisons Found to Offer Little in Savings
Published: May 18, 2011
PHOENIX — The conviction that private prisons save money helped drive more than 30 states to turn to them for housing inmates. But Arizona shows that popular wisdom might be wrong: Data there suggest that privately operated prisons can cost more to operate than state-run prisons — even though they often steer clear of the sickest, costliest inmates.
State Representative Chad Campbell of Arizona said private prisons “leave the most expensive prisoners with taxpayers.”
The state’s experience has particular relevance now, as many politicians have promised to ease budget problems by trimming state agencies. Florida and Ohio are planning major shifts toward private prisons, and Arizona is expected to sign deals doubling its private-inmate population.
The measures would be a shot in the arm for an industry that has struggled, in some places, to fill prison beds as the number of inmates nationwide has leveled off. But hopes of big taxpayer benefits might end in disappointment, independent experts say.
“There’s a perception that the private sector is always going to do it more efficiently and less costly,” said Russ Van Vleet, a former co-director of the University of Utah Criminal Justice Center. “But there really isn’t much out there that says that’s correct.”
Such has been the case lately in Arizona. Despite a state law stipulating that private prisons must create “cost savings,” the state’s own data indicate that inmates in private prisons can cost as much as $1,600 more per year, while many cost about the same as they do in state-run prisons.
The research, by the Arizona Department of Corrections, also reveals a murky aspect of private prisons that helps them appear less expensive: They often house only relatively healthy inmates.
“It’s cherry-picking,” said State Representative Chad Campbell, leader of the House Democrats. “They leave the most expensive prisoners with taxpayers and take the easy prisoners.”
In the 1980s, soaring violent crime, tougher sentencing and overcrowding led lawmakers to use private prisons to expand. Then, as now, privatization advocates argued that corporations were more efficient. Over time, most states signed contracts, one of the largest transfers of state functions to private industry.
Nationally, the number of state inmates in private prisons grew by a third over the past decade to more than 90,000, but it has stagnated, and some states have reduced total prison populations — shifting nonviolent offenders to treatment programs while bolstering probation. Now, Ohio lawmakers want to privatize prisons with 6,000 inmates, and Florida will transfer institutions with 15,000 inmates to private management. The Arizona plan would add 5,000 private prison beds.
Matthew Benson, spokesman for Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, a Republican, did not dispute the state research. But he said officials had a “pretty wide lens” to interpret the cost-savings mandate, like taking into account the ability of private companies to recoup hundreds of millions in construction costs over the life of contracts.
“It is a significant advantage to have a private firm be able to come in and front the costs,” he said.
Privatization advocates play down the data. Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform for the Reason Foundation, a libertarian research organization, questioned whether all costs were included and said the figures were too narrowly drawn, particularly on medium-security prisons, to prompt conclusions. “It is looking at a limited slice,” Mr. Gilroy said.
Competing studies — some financed by the prison industry — have argued over claims of savings. But when a University of Utah team including Mr. Van Vleet reviewed years of research, it concluded in 2007 that “cost savings from privatizing prisons are not guaranteed and appear minimal.”
Steve Owen, spokesman for the largest operator, Corrections Corporation of America, said: “There is a mixed bag of research out there. It’s not as black and white and cut and dried as we would like.”
A number of states mandate that contracts save money. But Arizona is one of the few — if not only — places to measure the outcome so rigorously.
While private prisons collect a daily rate per inmate, some expenses disproportionately borne by states are not counted. The most significant are terms limiting sicker inmates.
Five of eight private prisons serving Arizona did not accept inmates with “limited physical capacity and stamina” or severe physical illness or chronic conditions, according to the state’s analysis, issued last month. None took inmates with “high need” mental health conditions. Some inmates who became sick were “returned to state prisons due to an increase of their medical scores that exceeds contractual exclusions.”
“Unlike the private contractors,” the analysis said, the state “is required to provide medical and mental health services to inmates regardless of the severity of their condition.” Medical costs averaged up to $2.44 a day more for state inmates, a third higher than private prisons.
That gap can be wider. In Florida, officials found that two private prisons spent only about half as much on health care per inmate as comparable state prisons, a difference of $9 million over two years. Florida officials say that the new plan will better balance costs, and that private prisons comply with a 7-percent-savings law. But skeptics like State Senator Mike Fasano, a Republican, fear cherry-picking may be the only way they can do that.
In Arizona, minimum-security state inmates cost 2.6 percent — or $1.39 per day — more than those in private prisons, before accounting for extra costs borne by the state. But after eliminating these, state prisoners cost only three cents more per day, the analysis found.
And state medium-security inmates cost 4.4 percent less before adjustments and 8.7 percent less afterward. That is more than $2 million annually at one prison, or $1,679 per inmate. Using 2009 corrections data, state auditors calculated the difference at up to $2,834 per inmate.
Charles L. Ryan, the Arizona corrections director, said private prisons “often negotiate restrictions on the type of inmates” and limit “inmates with medical conditions to a specific cost level.” The new contracts seek to reduce this practice.
Mr. Owen did not dispute the Arizona research, but said the industry saved money. He pointed to a study — partly financed by the industry — that found states with private prisons had lower growth in public prison costs.
“We do provide value to our government partners,” he said.
However, Mr. Owen acknowledged that most contracts had cost caps, and that terms barring the sickest prisoners were not unusual. He said his company never voiced a preference for such terms. “The myth is that we are somehow hand-selecting” inmates.
According to Arizona officials, the data account for costs as varied as guards’ pensions and inmate food. They track past results publicized in the state, but those have not prompted any privatization rethinking: contracts on the state’s expansion could be awarded by the summer.
By Andrea Nill Sanchez on Jun 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Yesterday, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) released a report (link now disabled) chronicling the political strategies of private prison companies “working to make money through harsh policies and longer sentences.” The report’s authors note that while the total number of people in prison increased less than 16 percent, the number of people held in private federal and state facilities increased by 120 and 33 percent, correspondingly. Government spending on corrections has soared since 1997 by 72 percent, up to $74 billion in 2007. And the private prison industry has raked in tremendous profits. Last year the two largest private prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group — made over $2.9 billion in revenue.
JPI claims the private industry hasn’t merely responded to the nation’s incarceration woes, it has actively sought to create the market conditions (ie. more prisoners) necessary to expand its business.
According to JPI, the private prison industry uses three strategies to influence public policy: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and networking. The three main companies have contributed $835,514 to federal candidates and over $6 million to state politicians. They have also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on direct lobbying efforts. CCA has spent over $900,000 on federal lobbying and GEO spent anywhere from $120,000 to $199,992 in Florida alone during a short three-month span this year. Meanwhile, “the relationship between government officials and private prison companies has been part of the fabric of the industry from the start,” notes the report. The cofounder of CCA himself used to be the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.
The impact that the private prison industry has had is hard to deny. In Arizona, 30 of the 36 legislators who co-sponsored the state’s controversial immigration law that would undoubtedly put more immigrants behind bars received campaign contributions from private prison lobbyists or companies. Private prison businesses been involved in lobbying efforts related to a bill in Florida that would require privatizing all of the prisons in South Florida and have been heavily involved in appropriations bills on the federal level.
Tracy Velázquez, executive director of JPI recommends that we “take a hard look at what the cost of this influence is, both to taxpayers and to the community as a whole, in terms of the policies being lobbied for and the outcomes for people put in private prisons.”
Thee United States incarcerates more people for drug offenses than any other country. With an estimated 6.8 million Americans struggling with drug abuse or dependence, the growth of the prison population continues to be driven largely by incarceration for drug offenses. “Source: Justice Policy Institute, “Substance Abuse Treatment and Public Safety,” (Washington, DC: January 2008)
Nonviolent drug offenders now account for about one-fourth of all inmates in the United States, up from less than 10 percent in 1980. The costs, of course, are staggering: State correctional spending now totals $52 billion a year, consuming one out of 14 general fund dollars; spending on corrections is the second fastest growth area of state budgets, following Medicaid.
from Corrections Corporation of America 2010 Annual Report.
The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior. Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly, reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.
This is exactly why we should not be sending our city and county prisoners into for profit jails.