Wednesday, January 10, 2018

NOT A Good Idea

The state corrections head recently decided to RE-open a closed prison in Eastern Kentucky.
His reasons: the state’s prison population continues to grow and the state was running out of places to jail them, plus putting them in local county jails was becoming harder to do and was costing more money, and the state had no $$$ to build a new prison.
So he plans to re-open a prison closed in 2015, and hire the same private firm which didn’t run it right then, to run it again.
Without going into an argument over whether Kentucky jails too many people for too many offenses (including various minor ones - and we do, ) this is a baddd idea. For many reasons:   
First, hiring the same firm which the state fired in 2015 for not doing its job is just stupid. OK, the old firm, Corrections Corp. of America, has changed its name. It is now CoreCivic, but the same problems and controversies it had before still exist,
Its record in Kentucky includes two major riots at its facilities, charges that it skimped on food for inmates (which may have led to one of the riots,) lawsuits over sexual harassment and worse, including by a prison “chaplain," at one facility, various other charges, including violation of lobbying laws to keep its contract, etc.etc.etc.
In other states, similar and more such charges were made against this firm. Why give them a chance to repeat or enlarge their bad operations again?
Security of our citizens is a major state commitment. Why turn this over to private firms? In making billions in profits annually, which the state doesn’t need to make, surely  government can operate prisons more effectively than for-profit firms. If not, governments can be held accountable more than private firms, and changes made.  Try that with Wells Fargo or Tanaka.
There are, in my mind, also serious legal questions. I have been told, several times, by journalists and CCA reps, that its employees are private citizens, NOT state employees, not “sworn peace officers” or lawmen.
How then, can such people hold inmates jailed without running afoul of the “involuntary servitude” clause of the US Constitution? I would love to see an ACLU challenge to this use of privately operated prisons.
Til then, and til Kentucky revisits all the minor reasons it jails so many people (America jails more people per capital than almost any nation) this decision to reopen an old prison and hire a discredited firm to run it, makes very little sense.
I'm just sayin'...

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