American Friends Service Committee Weighs in on Prison; Petition


Editor’s note;

I received the following from American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) today.

If you want to sign the attached petition, DO NOT CONTACT ME.

Instead, contact the AFSC directly to find out how to sign their petition, it appears you can sign it on line just by clicking the link and following the instructions.  Remember;  DO NOT CONTACT ME, about any problems you might have signing it.

howardsgoodyearblog generally supports privatization of government services where it makes sense and can reduce costs. Locating prisons near elementary schools and high end neighborhoods does not make a lot of sense to me, however.

from Caroline Isaacs CIsaacs@afsc.org
to “howardsgoodyearblog@gmail.com” <howardsgoodyearblog@gmail.com>
cc CT <camtil@mac.com>
date Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 11:01 AM
subject Bravo!
mailed-by afsc.org
Important mainly because of the words in the message.
hide details 11:01 AM (32 minutes ago)
 Hi there, I’m with the American Friends Service Committee, the group that is coordinating opposition to the private prisons proposed for Arizona, including Goodyear.  I noticed you are covering the issue on your blog, so I wanted to offer you any info that you think people might be interested in.  We’ve been monitoring prison privatization in AZ for over 15 years, and we’ve collected a lot of material.

Last year we held a public forum on prison privatization in AZ.  As part of that event, we collected testimonies and put them on our website: http://afsc.org/resource/private-prisons-are-unsafe

We also tried to collect all the existing data we could find about cost savings, safety, etc.  They are listed here:  http://afsc.org/resource/research-and-background-materials-prison-privatization

Our “white paper” on the subject is available here:  http://afsc.org/document/prison-privatization-arizona.  It’s a good overview of the history, the applicable state laws, and our objections to the practice.

We also have a blog on this issue, Cell-Out Arizona, where we post a lot of breaking news and information:  http://tucsoncitizen.com/cell-out-arizona/

I’m attaching our “rap sheet” on GEO Group, the company bidding on the contract in Goodyear.  It is an extensive listing of all their problems, collected from published newspaper accounts. GEO Rap Sheet11

We also have a petition against the prison that folks in Goodyear might want to sign:  http://www.change.org/petitions/councilmember-no-new-private-prison-in-goodyear

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.  Thanks a lot!

Caroline

Caroline Isaacs

Program Director,

American Friends Service Committee

Arizona Area Program

103 N. Park Ave., Suite 111

Tucson, AZ  85719

520.623.9141 p/520.623.5901

www.afsc.org/tucson

Check out our blog:  www.tucsoncitizen.com/cell-out-arizona

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One Response

  1. GEO, CEO Zoley (on a roll!) and Florida “prison state”..
    “Private prison business eyes big Florida prize” Arizona the next sucker… msnbc.com
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43006936/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/t/private-prison-business-eyes-big-florida-prize/#.Tk3IXnOrXsU

    By Tom Brown updated 5/12/2011 10:57:30 AM ET

    MIAMI — Florida has opened the doors to one of the biggest prison privatization programs in U.S. history, as the cash-strapped state looks to cut the cost of keeping more than 100,000 people behind bars.

    The privatization plan, touted by the industry as “an important milestone” for the private prison business, was approved by the Republican-dominated Florida legislature as part of a budget deal hammered out last week.

    Private prison operators have already made big inroads in states like Texas and New Mexico. But Florida has the third largest state prison system in the United States, and no other state has sought to privatize so many lock-ups at any one time.

    The move has drawn sharp criticism from law enforcement groups and even some leading Republicans, who say it endangers public safety in a state still trying to shake off a history of prison abuse and corruption, as depicted in the popular 1967 Hollywood film “Cool Hand Luke” set in Florida starring Paul Newman.

    Others say private prisons don’t have incentives to rehabilitate inmates and are focused instead on profits.

    The plan has not yet been signed into law by Republican Governor Rick Scott, who took office in January after campaigning on a pledge to fight record-high unemployment.

    But few doubt that Scott, who puts a premium on cost-cutting and close ties with the business community, will endorse the initiative even though it could lead to layoffs and sharply reduced wages and benefits for 4,500 prison guards.

    Critics condemn the privatization move as an example of the corrosive effect of corporate money in politics.

    Coupled with other austerity measures introduced under the leadership of the Tea Party-backed Scott, it could hurt Republicans in the run-up to next year’s election in the pivotal battleground state.
    “For the first time in my life I’m thinking about switching parties,” said Jim Baiardi, a 45-year-old prison guard and life-long Republican who heads the correctional officers chapter of the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

    The privatization plan is “not for the benefit of the state, it’s for the benefit of the corporations,” Baiardi said.

    Under the plan, the state is required to privatize all of the prisons in South Florida, which is home to about one-fifth of the statewide inmate population of 101,000.

    That includes at least 16 prisons along with numerous annexes, juvenile correction facilities, road camps and so-called work-release centers across an 18-county region.

    “It’s unprecedented in the United States,” said Florida Senator Mike Fasano, a Republican who heads the Senate budget committee with oversight of prisons.

    He said he tried to block the privatization plan but failed due to lobbying by politically powerful companies led by GEO Group, the Boca Raton-based firm that is the second-largest U.S. private prison operator.

    “I’m a conservative Republican that believes in privatizing certain parts of government services but we should never privatize public safety,” Fasano told Reuters.

    “POLITICAL PAYBACK”

    The privatization plan requires companies to operate prisons for at least 7 percent less money that it takes to run state-run facilities, but Fasano said that promises it would reduce up to $40 million annually were unconvincing and undocumented.

    “It all comes down to politics and the big donors. GEO and the other private companies that run prisons are very big donors to the party here in Florida and to the elected officials, both past and present,” he said.

    GEO Group declined requests to comment. But top executives talked excitedly about the privatization deal in a recent earnings call with industry analysts.

    “This is a very important milestone for our industries and we hope that additional opportunities such as this will develop at the state level in the coming years,” said John Hurley, who heads the corrections division of GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp.

    Kevin Campbell, an analyst who follows private prison companies for Avondale Partners, said the Florida deal looked set to add anywhere from $300 million to $400 million in revenues to private operators. This is based on the assumption that they will be taking over the care of between 17,000 and 20,000 prisoners in South Florida, including their healthcare.

    George Zoley, the GEO Group’s chief executive, called the Florida deal “one of the largest opportunities that we’ve ever seen in the history of our industry,” suggesting it could add “several hundreds of millions” to the group’s annual revenues.

    He added it was “the most ambitious” prison privatization to date, in terms of number of inmates being “outsourced.”

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