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"They talk to us like humans"

by Izzy Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:43:38 PM EST

Yesterday in Indiana, inmates took over part of the New Castle Correctional Facility, a privately run prison, in what was called a "full-scale riot" by the town's mayor and a "disturbance" by the Department of Corrections.  Two employees of the prison and seven prisoners have been injured.

Whatever you called it, the news had lots of pictures and video of smoke pouring out of the prison, but there's more to the story.  The riot was evidently precipitated by an influx of inmates involuntarily transferred from Arizona.  Arizona says this was "necessary" due to overcrowding, yet was recently negotiating with California to take their overflow of inmates.  

Is Arizona lying or is something else going on?


Last October, Gov. Schwarzenegger of California declared an emergency and was going to ship inmates to prisons in four states, including Arizona and the New Castle Facility in Indiana.  

From the LA Times, October 21, 2006:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared an emergency this month to speed up the no-bid contracts with two private companies. He said the transfers are needed to ease crowding in the nation's largest prison system, where more than 172,000 inmates are crowded into space designed for about 100,000, forcing some inmates to sleep in gymnasiums and auditoriums.

 The GEO Group Inc. of Florida will be paid an estimated $28.7 million a year to house as many as 1,260 inmates at its New Castle Correctional Facility in Indiana.

 Tennessee-based Correctional Corporation of America will be paid a projected $22.9 million annually to house as many as 1,000 inmates at four prisons in Arizona, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

 All 2,260 medium-security inmates are to be moved by March under the contracts, signed late Thursday.

The plan was to ship 5000 volunteer prisoners out of state, but it quickly disintigrated.  The prisoners didn't want to move away from their home and families and weren't volunteering.  In response, California's prison system CCTV started showing what has to be one of the more bizarre marketing videos of all time.

From the LA Times, Jan. 28, 2007 (you can see excerpts of the video at the link):

SACRAMENTO -- Tasty meals! A room with a view! Ping-Pong! Cable TV!

 In one of the more unusual marketing campaigns undertaken by state government, California prison officials are asking inmates to bid adieu to their cellmates and transfer to lockups elsewhere in the country.

 As part of the recruitment drive, wardens are screening a film extolling the virtues of out-of-state prisons and reminding convicts of the violent, overcrowded, racially charged conditions they face in California.

 "You get 79 channels here -- ESPN!" one tattooed California felon, now housed in Tennessee, says in the movie.

 "They talk to us like humans," says another, "not like animals."

In the meantime, the prison lobby didn't want their jobs threatened and took it to the courts.  In February, a judge ruled that the plan violated California's civil service protection laws.  She also found that Schwarzenegger had misused the state emergency clause and that it did not apply in situations such as this.

By February of this year, only 360 prisoners had been moved to Arizona and Tennessee, to Correctional Corp. prisons.  The contract with GEO was canceled by "mutual agreement."  Which brings us to yesterday's riot at the GEO facility in New Castle.

From today's South Bend Tribune:

The fracas that eventually involved about 500 men from both states started in the courtyard because some of the newly arrived prisoners from Arizona were upset with the rules, officials said.

"Going to chow, they have to wear their green shirts, and they didn't want to wear their green shirts," said Trina Randall, a spokeswoman for GEO Group Inc., the Florida company that in January 2006 took over the prison's management.

Some of the new inmates had complained about a lack of recreation and other policies, she said.

"A lot of them didn't realize it was a non-tobacco facility until they got here," Randall said.

In Arizona, prisoners can smoke in the courtyard. In Indiana, tobacco is banned.

Randall also said that prisoners received slightly less food in Indiana than in Arizona.

Hmm, they didn't mention less food and recreation or no smoking in California video.  Maybe Arizona has a different contract.  The article goes on to say:

The disturbance occurred six weeks after the first of some 600 Arizona inmates began joining 1,050 Indiana prisoners at the prison about 45 miles east of Indianapolis. Arizona felt the transfers were necessary to alleviate overcrowding.

So why is Arizona still negotiating to take excess prisoners from California if they don't have room for their own?  They're not -- the state of Arizona is as overburdened as the rest and the deals are being made with companies like GEO and ACC.  California was going to pay $63 a day for their inmates.  It seems they got a dollar break, probably for bulk.

The Star Press:

The average cost to house an inmate for one day in Arizona is $58. The Indiana DOC will collect $64 a day -- and about $13 of which will remain in state coffers -- $6.1 million total. The rest will be used to cover the actual daily expenses of housing each inmate.

The privatizations of our prisons has gone by largely unnoticed and unreported, but it's already huge.

Officials from the [California Corrections] agency signed contracts worth more than $51.6 million with Corrections Corporation and The GEO Group Inc. to send their inmates to the companies' prisons across the country, beginning with the Corrections Corporation facility in Tennessee, then moving to Arizona.

Both companies have prisons in Arizona that already have been used to hold inmates from other states, including Hawaii, Washington and Alaska, as well as federal detainees.

California inmates will not be released in Arizona, Grant said, because they will be returned to California communities.

The GEO Group has 63 prisons and residential treatment facilities in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. On Dec. 12, it announced the opening of a 1,000-bed Central Arizona Correctional Facility, also in Florence, which will house medium-security sex offenders from Arizona.

Adding a "for-profit" middleman between government and its functions never makes sense.  It's ruined our healthcare system, is crippling our schools, transportation, and military, and is now turning inmates into a commodity.  It's a bad idea and will have a bad outcome.  

The only question that remains is whether we'll do anything to stop it, or if this "free market" will continue to correct itself with blood and fire.

Crossposted from Unbossed.

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Hey, it generates GDP. And growth. And profits.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:02:46 PM EST
And - eventually - riots.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:40:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
just a little irrational exerburance.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:54:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A valuable byproduct that can be cheaply reprocessed into precious media content.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Apr 26th, 2007 at 03:24:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ouch!

brilliant

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 04:45:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
privatized prisons...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:02:56 PM EST
I kinda knew it was happening here, but was surprised at all the other countries.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:10:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You've hit close to home for me, Izzy. The Star Press is my home town paper.  I know New Castle very well it's only a short drive down Highway 3, and I was shocked when I heard the new about this riot.  I was flipping through the channels, and saw as Fox News flicked on "Riot in New Castle, Indiana."  

Before they finally built this monster in New Castle, they tried to to get approval to build it in my hometown.  Get this, the wanted to convert what was previously one of the largest electrical transformer plants in the world into a prison.  200 feet (66 m) ceilings nothing but empty space, across the street from the local community college.  Their was to much opposition for them to build it.  This was one of a few horrible economic development schemes that were defeated.  The other? Merchant gas power plants that would have dropped 600 pound of mercury on the surrounding area while shipping the power out of state.

Sometimes I feel like my state is treated more like a colony than an equal part of the nation.  Other parts of the country ship us their toxic wastes, prisoners, and want us to bear the environmental burden for things like power plants, and then act as though they're helping us out.

There's no hope or opportunity for the young kids growing up today who want to make a living and stay in places like Muncie and New Castle.  Privitization is out of control, and it highly likely that Gov. Daniels (who pushed through this prison deal and many other privitizations) will simply not run in 2008 because people are so angry.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:28:51 PM EST
Wow -- thanks for giving the local insight.  I was assuming such conditions might be the case.  When I was researching, almost all of the articles focussed heavily on how many jobs were being created.

It's like this in so many parts of the US.  No jobs or opportunity anymore.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:33:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The airport they showed the prisoners being taken off the plane and loaded onto buses at.

1/2 mile from my childhood home.  My sister and mother live less than 2 miles from there.

They recently opened up a Sallie Mae call center in the industrial park across the street.  They hailed it is a huge boon for the city, but the truth is that while the starting wage for employees (remember many of these are college graduates) is $8/hour in Muncie, Sallie Mae pays its employees in the same job in Indianapolis 50 miles away half again ($12/hour) as much. And they still got a tax break to build the place.    

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:49:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's like this in so many parts of the US.  No jobs or opportunity anymore.

But, but, the Dow just broke the 13,000 mark!

Proof positive that Sarko's "Anglo-Saxon" model really works!

by Matt in NYC on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:10:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You reap what you sow.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:37:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And people move from Marion TO Muncie.  I agree about the state of the state.  I was back home for a couple of weeks and truly sickened by the desperate bid for any type of job back there.  At least there wasn't the same drumbeat for Bush and Republicans in general this time back, but the damage is severe, and the poverty away from the cities is truly amazing.

Do they still have a system where the local sheriff is in charge of feeding county prisoners, and anything he doesn't spend from his food budget goes into his pocket?  (this is county not state-jail not prison) Always seemed like a straight invitation to corruption.

On a further note, as a defense lawyer in California I can vouch for the horrific status of Ca prisons, including the Youth Prisons which have recently been exposed for the gang-ridden failure that they are.  They responded by changing the name and papering over some "reforms".  No real substantial change has occurred.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Thu Apr 26th, 2007 at 09:49:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LEGALIZE DRUGS.
Why does the USA have a prison explosion?
Is the USA more lawless?
Or is the USA just more draconian with its rules?


Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:06:09 PM EST
You're preaching to the choir, my friend.  Don't get me started.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:14:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NP, Izzy.
I thought I would at least start with something that most people here will agree with.

Because to be honest I do not agree about the ideas that Prisons are a growth industry and as such GDP will go up.
It may in a micro-economics sense but overall (macro) it takes resources out of more productive uses into wasteful uses.

Just count the number of young people that could be productive members of society instead of wasting their lives away.

You seemed to have missed the Alaskan connections. They actually sent people down to Arizona also. Cost to house and supervise is astronomical in Alaska-as far as I read.

Anyway, good diary.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:56:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks!   There's probably a whole series of posts to be made in what I missed! lol.  The Alaska thing is interesting -- Hawaii, too.  I'm assuming for Hawaii, the real-estate is probably a factor, I don't know about Alaska -- is it heating?  shipping in provisions?  In any case, Arizona has been out front in allowing private prisons.  Someone in the dKos thread mentioned Louisiana had the state have to take over the private ones there, so that's something else that bears looking into.  

btw, the growth and gdp stuff was sarcasm.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 07:06:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes cost of goods is more expensive relatively, but labor costs is high for trained people.
It usually ends up that people that are not really qualified get some interesting jobs in Alaska.
I remember meeting one guy that was the City Engineer for a small town. And I said what type of degree he had for that and he just looked at me like I was silly and said none, just read some books and such.

I was trained as a claims adjuster. The only requirement was any degree and take a test. Other than that they hired me because of my customer service skills.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 08:13:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Goin once! Goin twice! Sold to America.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 08:49:02 PM EST


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