Today’s post is all about corporate prisons. We start with privatized health care in a Florida corporate prison. Kat has been following Corizon corporation for several years and the news all over is bad. Kat worries for our people suffering at the hands of corporations only interested in profit.
The next piece is about a 2013 study from Grassroots Leadership, a group Kat has been working with for many years. It’s called Locked Up and Shipped Away and the link to the report is at the end of the article.
Lastly, is a disturbing excerpt from Gov. Ige’s town hall meeting in March 2015 where he responded to a question about private prisons.
Private Prison’s Health Care: A Clear and Present Danger to Inmates
Jeremy Mohler, Capital & Main, December 3, 2015
“It’s unusual for a private contractor to terminate its own contract, especially a contract for $1.2 billion. But that just happened in Florida.
“After two years of controversy, Corizon, America’s largest for-profit prison health care provider, just decided to end its care of 74,000 prisoners in the state. The company—which is owned by a private equity firm—says it is leaving because the contract terms aren’t flexible enough. But Corizon’s time in Florida has a familiar ring to it: understaffing, poor service and hundreds of lawsuits by prisoners.
“Last year, 346 prisoners died in Florida prisons—the highest number in the state on record, even though the total number of prisoners has declined. Of those prisoners, 176 were listed with no immediate cause of death.
“A recent state audit found nursing and staffing shortages, “notable disorganization” among medical records, and “life threatening” conditions. One tragic example: Three prisoners with cancer were misdiagnosed by Corizon staff—all were given Tylenol and ibuprofen for their spreading cancers, and two have since died.
“That makes six states that have cut ties with Corizon one way or another. New York City recently ended the company’s contract after 15 years of controversy on Rikers Island. And after the tragic death of a California prisoner in July, many are calling for Alameda County to end its relationship with Corizon.
“Far too often, despite promises of better services for less money, private contractors understaff and cut corners on services to turn a profit. Even after requesting and receiving millions of dollars beyond the original contract terms with Florida, Corizon clearly had trouble providing adequate care.
“To explain its decision, Corizon’s CEO said, “We have tried to address the department’s concerns but have found the terms of the current contract too constraining.” If adequately caring for prisoners is “too constraining,” then Corizon shouldn’t be in the business of prison health care.”
This is so troubling, especially in light of the fact that the Department of Public Safety has had no Medical Director since July. This happened in Florida, but our government seems to have no problem outsourcing its responsibilities to the private sector in the name of efficiency.
Study Details States’ Abuses of Out-Of-State Prisoner Transfers to For-Profit Prisons
Derek Gilna, Prison Legal News, Nov. 10, 2015
“The corrections industry maintains that one of its priorities is to help detainees maintain ties with their family and communities to assist them in reintegrating back into society after their release. However, a new study, by the non-partisan Grassroots Leadership Organization, has shown that the practice of interstate transfers to for-profit facilities is contrary to that goal. Currently over 10,500 state prisoners are confined from 450 to 3,000 miles from their home in for-profit institutions, according to the study, showing that making money trumps rehabilitation.
“According to the report, ‘the interstate transfer of prisoners to for-profit private prisons across the U.S. impedes prisoner rehabilitation, diminishes prisoners’ ties to family and community, serves the interests of an industry that views prisoners as commodities, and perpetuates our nation’s mass incarceration crisis, compromising rather than enhancing the public good and public safety.’ The study further notes that as incarceration has increased in the United States over the past few decades, the ‘for-profit prison industry (is) a significant, yet hidden, apparatus that perpetuates mass incarceration.’ …
“Kat Brady, a Hawaii-based prisoner advocate, decries her state’s practice of shipping their prisoners to Arizona, stating that ‘our people have been moved around like chess pieces, sold to the lowest bidder, in essence. I hear the anguish of families, of children who miss their daddies, of wives struggling to keep their families together and the desperation of people trying to locate their loved ones.'”
Source: “Locked up and shipped away,” http://grassrootsleadership.org., November 20, 2013
“Q: WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF PRIVATIZING OUR STATE PRISONS?
A: We privatize state prisons today because we ship … (what’s the number today, Gregg…2,000? Takayama thinks…Ige says 1800? Takayama says 1400) … 1400 of our prisoners are shipped out of state we pay some company on the mainland to take care of them. So to some extent we have privatized our prisons. You know we are looking at a couple of things and
For those of you who don’t know, Gregg chairs the House committee on…..public safety so he has oversight on the House side of the prison system and other public safety areas. We have been talking a lot. Here’s the facts: All of our correctional facilities are ancient, antiquated and so poorly designed that staffing levels are 2 to 3 times of what a modern facility is. With staffing 2 to 3 times, that means that the cost is 2 to 3 times what an efficient facility would be. In addition, all of our facilities are overbooked 2 or 3 times over what the design capacity of the facility. So OCCC is overcrowded, Halawa is overcrowded, Kaua`i Correctional facility is overcrowded, Maui and the Big Island. So we are very close to a lawsuit and away from having the federal government say what we should be doing. So we have been looking at ways of encouraging a public-private partnership that would allow us to be able to build a facility so that we would get some relief off of the existing conditions in a way that doesn’t force the legislature to choose between funding schools and funding prisons. So stay tuned, I think that there will be an effort to execute a public private partnership of some sort so that we can construct a facility and then look at different ways for us to relieve the pressure off of the overcrowded facilities all across the state.”
What is frightening about the highlighted statements is the lack of understanding between private/corporate prisons and CONTRACTORS! CCA IS A CONTRACTOR (AND A BAD ACTOR AT THAT) NOT A PARTNER.
There is so much work to be done to educate not only the public (who are starting to “get it”) but the government who seem to either no understand or just don’t care. OUR JOB IS TO MAKE THEM CARE….WE ARE PAYING FOR THE MESS WE ARE IN!
There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.