Core Civic – CCA – Their truth, My Truth

This is one of the major players in in the prison business. It doesn’t matter what they try to make the public believe, I know, and anyone who has been in one of their prisons or has a loved one inside knows the truth.  But here are a few things CCA has to say about themselves taken from there main website. I know this is long and I copied only a portion.  I think it is important for people to understand who these are and how these use people to make money.  Now adding new prisons for immigrants has them excited – literally.  He goes:

********************

fox2news

“We recognize the inherent dignity of the human person and the need to treat every individual with respect. As we have since our inception, we share the responsibility of our government partners when they entrust individuals to our care.”

CCA founded the private corrections management industry three decades ago, establishing industry standards for future-focused, forward-thinking correctional solutions. A commitment to innovation, efficiency, cost effectiveness and achievement has made the company the partnership corrections provider of choice for federal, state and local agencies since 1983. (This video was made in 2009 so when it is said they have 35 facilities is wrong. They have many more)

As a full-service corrections management provider, we specialize in the design, construction, expansion and management of prisons, jails and detention facilities, along with residential reentry services, as well as inmate transportation services through its subsidiary company TransCor America. We are the fifth-largest corrections system in the nation, behind only the federal government and three states. CCA houses nearly 70,000 inmates in more than 70 facilities, the majority of which are company-owned, with a total bed capacity of more than 80,000. CCA currently partners with all three federal corrections agencies (The Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement), many states and local municipalities.

Since our inception, CCA has maintained its market leadership position in private corrections, managing more than 40 percent of all adult-secure beds under contract with such providers in the United States. The company joined the New York Stock Exchange in 1994 and now trades under the ticker symbol CXW.

Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, CCA employs more than 13,000 professionals nationwide in security, academic and vocational education, health services, inmate programs, facility maintenance, human resources, management and administration. We are proud of the distinctions of having been named among “America’s Best Big Companies” by Forbes magazine and ranked number one in the publication’s “Business Services and Supplies” category and having been consistently named by G.I. Jobs magazine as a “Top Military-Friendly Employer.”  Being a part of the community also provides valuable economic benefits to our partners by paying property, sales and other taxes, and providing a stable employment base that focuses on building careers with unlimited growth and development opportunities. As a strong corporate citizen, recognized by Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine, CCA contributes generously to host communities through volunteerism and charitable giving.

We offer offenders a variety of dynamic evidence-based reentry and rehabilitation programs, including education, addictions treatment, GED preparation and testing, post-secondary studies, life skills, employment training, recreational options, faith-based services and work opportunities. (For 11 years Jamie has not been able to study for his GED and I got him a fourth book and dictionary because somehow they disappeared)

As an enhanced focus on reentry, CCA’s community corrections facilities, specializing in providing work furlough, housing and rehabilitation in residential reentry centers. Our work is grounded in providing hope, direction and the best possible opportunity and environment for offenders within the communities we serve. We offer government agencies responsive, innovative and cost-effective solutions for offenders, including a variety of rehabilitation and education programs, including substance abuse treatment using the cognitive behavioral approach, a specialized women’s program, onsite Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous meetings, life skills lessons, employment readiness, cultural diversity workshops, release planning and assistance in re-establishing family ties.

Protecting Those in Our Care

As stated in our Human Rights Policy statement, CCA recognizes the inherent dignity of the human person and the need to treat every individual with respect. Part of treating our inmates and detainees with respect is giving them a safe place to live. We believe in safeguarding their rights, including protecting them from being subjected to personal abuse/injury and harassment. (wow, that is a lie)

Zero Tolerance Policy

In compliance with Section 115.11 of the PREA regulation, CCA has established a Zero Tolerance Policy against all forms of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment. CCA has outlined an aggressive plan specifying the efforts we undertake to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to all allegations of conduct that falls into either category.

(If you have a prison of all men – and all women there is still going to be sex whether the other inmate likes it or not. Also, Jamie is a good looking black man and female guards proposition him for sex.  I say try, because he knows these women are having sex with other men who have had sex with men and the rate of AIDS and Hep C and other sexually transmitted diseases are high.)

Inmate Wellness

CCA Corrections provides inmates and detainees with the opportunity to pause and assess their lifestyles. For many, incarceration marks the first time in their adult lives when they will have seen a medical professional or received a regular and balanced diet. At CCA, we are proud to offer life-changing services that will enable men and women to find healthy paths toward wellness. We do this through a wide array of options, including:  (excuse me while I pause and go throw up)

Nutrition Services

Mealtime is very important in our everyday lives. Food is known as such an important aspect of correctional operations that it is often directly tied to inmate behavior and morale. Not only do breakfast, lunch and dinner help provide daily structure and routines, they also have an impact on overall health and wellness.

Nutrition service is a vital aspect of CCA operations. Guided by our individual government partners, CCA takes great care to offers meals that support specialized diets and cultural preferences, while conforming to rigorous nutritional guidelines. Our team of culinary experts relies on a library of nearly 700 recipes to meet the dietary needs of those in our care. All meals provided at CCA facilities are reviewed and approved by registered dietitians. On a daily basis, we provide meals that support religious diets and more than a dozen therapeutic diets. In fact, seven percent of those is our care receive specialized therapeutic diets that serve to support wellness for a wide array of medical conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, pregnancy, and autoimmune diseases.

We take pride in our food service. In partnership with our partners, we maintain the highest standards, ensuring compliance with local health departments, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the American Correctional Association. Additionally, all of our kitchen managers are trained and certified by ServSafe.

For many, incarceration serves as a much-needed opportunity to receive consistent access to quality nutrition services. When people have access to sufficient food, they are able to make better choices, increase learning abilities, and combat various health issues. Through something as fundamental as food, we are able to help guide inmates down a path toward health and wellness, both while in our care and after their release. 

Health Care

All too often, for many offenders, the first time they receive comprehensive health care is upon becoming incarcerated.

Upon intake at a CCA facility, inmates are screened so that our medical professionals may manage existing concerns and address any new diagnoses. A typical CCA facility has a medical unit where physicians, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and medical assistants can provide routine check-ups, manage sick calls and address non-emergency needs. Our correctional health care facilities typically include a dental clinic, too.

For offenders who experience mental health problems, from emotional conflict to mental illness, we have a team of qualified mental health professionals to assist them with their needs. Offenders are screened upon arrival at each facility, and if needed, they’re referred to a psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health specialist for follow-up evaluation and intervention.  We provide treatment in the form of medication, when needed, as well as group and individual counseling. All CCA staff receive training in the identification of mental health crises, and they refer offenders to the professional staff whenever they suspect someone is experiencing a problem. We constantly monitor the offender population for signs of declining mental health and suicide risk, working actively to assist a troubled offender in his or her time of need.

Our correctional health care teams are supported by a regional network of medical professionals across the country and are led by a talented team at the company’s headquarters. Additionally, CCA facilities leverage medical technology to securely automate medical records, scheduling, medication administration, pill call and pharmacy services.  (Fucking liars, pardon my French. They also erase files of illness they don’t want to treat and pretend it doesn’t exist.  They won’t give Jamie the seizure medication that works for him and give him something else.  it’s probably cheaper. I have talked to the drs and nurses and staff and everyone plays dumb – with a smile.)

Quality

CCA has a strong commitment to providing quality corrections services, working hard to live up to our own high standards as well as explicit guidelines, detailed requirements and rigorous oversight of government partners. The American Correctional Association, the independent gold standard for corrections management, has accredited more than 90 percent of CCA’s correctional facilities. These facilities have been rated on more than 500 standards in administrative and fiscal controls, staff training and development, physical plant, safety and emergency procedures, sanitation, food service, and rules and discipline. CCA also meets the standards of the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare, the nation’s leading organization in ensuring quality health services inprisons, jails and detention facilities.

********************

(There is more but that is ALL I can stomach.  Seriously it makes me ill to know the things that have gone in the prisons Jamie has been in, the quality of the food; inmates cook it not big time professional chefs serving up delectable and nutritious meals. This is why I send him a $60 food box every 3 months.  That is the limit. He goes to the commissary once a month – if they aren’t on lockdown which is every three months and then they cut the food portions. If you made it to the end of this I heartily congratulate you. Now you know a little bit more of what they promote to stockholders in their profitable business venture. All of my notes are in this color.  Complete credit for the rest of the bullshit belongs wholeheartedly to CCA.)

download
ITFO Newsletter

Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. It would be a tremendous help as I build my mailing list for the book I’m writing, Inside The Forbidden Outside. Those who receive the newsletter will have the opportunity to download it for free when it is ready to publish.

Jamie Life in Prison at Face book . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Protect yourself by having an attorney on call  with an app on your phone. Contact me about  Legal Shield

Sonni’s Pinterest

You can also follow the blog by email so you don’t miss any posts. That, too, is in the info beneath the post

NPR -Investigations Into Prisons – Part 2

This is the second part of an interview on August 25 on the real conditions of Federal prisons for profit that most people are unaware exist. It’s time to bring this out in the open.

The way it was reported, like the way the release of 6000 Federal inmates released last year was reported, it gave you the feeling that it directly affected our own citizens, but really that percentage was very small.  CCA and GEO and others are prevalent through the state prisons as well as the Federal, but most of the inmates by far are in state prisons.  Everyone who has a friend or loved one in a prison knows exactly what these corporations do and have been fighting them for a long time. Lousy food, inadequate education if they give it at all, medical care that kills people and on and on. 

So these corporations have no had their wrists slapped. Stock temporarily took a hit, but they didn’t get hit where it hurts.  They need to be ousted from all of the prisons.  But which politicians are in bed with them?  that is what we need to know. Make the government do their job.  They can give lip service and say things like they know how bad it is but as long as they have contracts with these companies they can’t put their money where their mouth is. If they continue to renew contracts with them after this, they are letting themselves in for trouble from many people because then it becomes yet another line of bullshit about wanting to change the prison system and take care of the vast amount of people who have been given outrageous sentences or shouldn’t be in there in the first place – yet not actually do anything about it.

************

DAVIES: Our guest today, Seth Freed Wessler is an investigative reporter who spent much of the past four years looking into conditions at the 13 privately operated prisons in the federal corrections system.

fair care for all
Enter a caption

Let’s talk about how this whole financial arrangement works and how it might connect to some of these issues. You know, a lot of the services that government provides aren’t provided by public employees. They’re done in private contracts.

You know, building roads – I mean, typically, private construction companies competitively bid for work. They complete it. It’s inspected. And they’re paid. Let’s talk about how it works for prisons. How does a contract typically work for a private prison?

It must be a big, expensive thing to build a prison. How long are the contracts? What are the provisions? What are the standards and the methods for making sure that the contractors live up to them?

WESSLER: So the Bureau of Prisons puts out calls for proposals when they want to open a new private prison. And a group of companies – at this point, really, only three companies – Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and a company called Management and Training Corporation bid for these contracts.

cca. prison corporations, prison industrial complex
photo source: correctionsproject.com

The contracts usually last about 10 years. And during that period of time, there are points when the Bureau of Prisons can decide whether to extend the contract further. One of the main reasons that the federal government decided to contract in the first place is that it believed that contractors could save money.

And there are real questions about whether that’s actually happened. But even if the prisons cost about the same, which is what research suggests, what’s different about private prisons from prisons run by governments is that – let’s say you’re spending – the government spends a hundred dollars per prisoner.

In a public prison, a prison run by the government, all of that money is going to the management of the facility. But in the context of private prisons, some of that money is profit for these companies. And so there is an incentive to cut down on costs.

And one of the most expensive parts of federal prisons – of prisons in general – is the operation of medical care. What I found in my reporting – interviewing people who worked inside these prisons – is that there was this sort of constant pressure to cut costs, a culture of austerity inside of these facilities.

I talked to an older doctor in his mid-80s, a man named John Farquhar, who worked for several years as the prison doctor in Big Spring Prison, a private facility in West Texas run by the GEO Group.

Just days after he arrived, took the job as the medical director of Big Spring, his corporate bosses arrived to tell him that they felt that they needed to cut down on the number of 911 calls made out of the prison because those calls cost too much money.

DAVIES: Those are cases where they need an ambulance to get someone to a higher level of care?

WESSLER: That’s right. You know, I came across this doctor because through Freedom of Information Act request, I obtained thousands of pages of medical records of men who had died in these facilities – 103 men who died inside of these facilities.

And in some of those records, I found notes from nurses or physician’s assistants and, in this case, from the physician. And in those notes, it was remarkable because not only was he appearing to provide sort of more care and a higher level of care than most of the other doctors in the facilities that I looked at were providing – that is, in facilities that had doctors at all.

But he left these sort of indignant notes behind about how upset he was about the quality of care that he was able to provide. He said in one note, this prisoner will almost certainly die.

This was in the context of a case where he had been trying to transfer somebody out to get care outside of the prison. And he was told by his corporate bosses that he wouldn’t be allowed to do that. In another note, he wrote, I feel badly for the shabby care.

Medical Treatment behind bars
photo source: prison.uk.blogspot.com

You know, this is a guy who clearly wanted to be providing higher-quality medical care. He’d been a doctor for decades. He’d been a military doctor. He’s now a doctor for the Veterans Administration in Texas. And he felt that these pressures to cut costs made that very difficult to do.

DAVIES: You know, I’m sure it’s not easy to get highly trained medical personnel to work in a prison system. It’s not the kind of environment most medical professionals would imagine working in. They’re often in remote places.

So there is going to be a difficulty, I think, in getting good-quality people to do that. And they’re probably going to have to pay more. Is that addressed at all when this arrangement was set up?

It’s simply going to – you’re going to have to spend some money – aren’t you? – to take care of literally thousands of people who can have health issues.

WESSLER: That’s right. You know, the Bureau of Prisons across the board has struggled to fully staff its medical units. And that’s especially a problem in rural areas where it’s hard to find doctors to come and work.

But there were facilities in my investigation that for months – nearly a year in some cases – had no medical doctor at all or who significantly understaffed their nursing departments for months and months at a time.

In fact, the Office of Inspector General from the Department of Justice found in a previous investigation that a prison called Reeves in West Texas, another GEO Group-run facility, was systematically understaffing its medical unit.

And only after the investigation did that begin to change. But the fact that it did change after the investigation suggests that it’s a problem that could be fixed and that the contractors weren’t fixing.

DAVIES: You know, you said that in these private prisons, which are for noncitizens – I mean, typically, illegal immigrants who were caught trying to re-enter the country – they’re designed to have fewer services – rehabilitative services, educational program, addiction counseling, mental health services.

But they are supposed to provide some standard of medical care and decent living conditions. And as with all government contracts, there’s a monitoring system, right?

Somebody’s supposed to come in regularly, examine the conditions, review records and see whether the public is getting what it’s paying for to these private companies. You looked at a lot of these monitoring reports. What did they show?

WESSLER: Well – so after the Bureau of Prisons set up this system of private facilities, it also set up what is really a pretty robust system of contract monitoring. So it hires a couple of people for each facility to actually be on-site and watch over what the facilities are doing.

And then every year or every six months, a group of monitors trained very specifically in subject areas go into these facilities to check to see if the prisons are following the terms of the contract. I obtained nearly   decade of these monitoring reports. And the reports show that for years, monitors documented deep and systemic problems in these facilities.

And the monitors would send these reports back to Washington. And what I found is that despite these ongoing problems, officials in Washington – contracting officials in Washington – didn’t impose the full fines or use their full enforcement muscle available to them to force changes inside of these facilities.

In fact, the Office of Inspector General report from the Department of Justice that came out recently found that when prisoners died inside of these facilities, and those deaths were connected to medical negligence – that the Bureau of Prisons didn’t have an effective way to force the companies to correct those problems. And so prisoners would die. And the problems would go on.

DAVIES: Now the contracts provided for specific monetary penalties, right? I mean, this is the way you build a contract. I mean, if you don’t deliver the service, you are penalized. And presumably for-profit providers would pay a lot of attention. As you looked at these records in cases where monitors said things are not working here, people are being endangered, do you have a sense of why financial penalties weren’t imposed? What led to those sets of decisions?

WESSLER: I interviewed a number of former Bureau of Prison monitors who were tasked with overseeing the operations and contracts of these facilities. And what I found was that on-the-ground monitors were proposing quite significant fines when things went wrong. So when a facility failed to provide prisoners with infectious disease care or a prisoner died as a result of not receiving the kind of medical care that they needed that the onsite monitors would ask the Bureau of Prisons in Washington to impose significant fines.

DAVIES:  Let’s talk about how this whole financial arrangement works and how it might connect to some of these issues. You know, a lot of the services that government provides aren’t provided by public employees. They’re done in private contracts.

You know, building roads – I mean, typically, private construction companies competitively bid for work. They complete it. It’s inspected. And they’re paid. Let’s talk about how it works for prisons. How does a contract typically work for a private prison?

It must be a big, expensive thing to build a prison. How long are the contracts? What are the provisions? What are the standards and the methods for making sure that the contractors live up to them?

WESSLER: So the Bureau of Prisons puts out calls for proposals when they want to open a new private prison. And a group of companies – at this point, really, only three companies – Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and a company called Management and Training Corporation bid for these contracts.

The contracts usually last about 10 years. And during that period of time, there are points when the Bureau of Prisons can decide whether to extend the contract further. One of the main reasons that the federal government decided to contract in the first place is that it believed that contractors could save money.

And there are real questions about whether that’s actually happened. But even if the prisons cost about the same, which is what research suggests, what’s different about private prisons from prisons run by governments is that – let’s say you’re spending – the government spends a hundred dollars per prisoner.

In a public prison, a prison run by the government, all of that money is going to the management of the facility. But in the context of private prisons, some of that money is profit for these companies. And so there is an incentive to cut down on costs.

And one of the most expensive parts of federal prisons – of prisons in general – is the operation of medical care. What I found in my reporting – interviewing people who worked inside these prisons – is that there was this sort of constant pressure to cut costs, a culture of austerity inside of these facilities.

I talked to an older doctor in his mid-80s, a man named John Farquhar, who worked for several years as the prison doctor in Big Spring Prison, a private facility in West Texas run by the GEO Group.

Just days after he arrived, took the job as the medical director of Big Spring, his corporate bosses arrived to tell him that they felt that they needed to cut down on the number of 911 calls made out of the prison because those calls cost too much money.

DAVIES: Those are cases where they need an ambulance to get someone to a higher level of care?

WESSLER: That’s right. You know, I came across this doctor because through Freedom of Information Act request, I obtained thousands of pages of medical records of men who had died in these facilities – 103 men who died inside of these facilities.

And in some of those records, I found notes from nurses or physician’s assistants and, in this case, from the physician. And in those notes, it was remarkable because not only was he appearing to provide sort of more care and a higher level of care than most of the other doctors in the facilities that I looked at were providing – that is, in facilities that had doctors at all.

But he left these sort of indignant notes behind about how upset he was about the quality of care that he was able to provide. He said in one note, this prisoner will almost certainly die.

This was in the context of a case where he had been trying to transfer somebody out to get care outside of the prison. And he was told by his corporate bosses that he wouldn’t be allowed to do that. In another note, he wrote, I feel badly for the shabby care.

You know, this is a guy who clearly wanted to be providing higher-quality medical care. He’d been a doctor for decades. He’d been a military doctor. He’s now a doctor for the Veterans Administration in Texas. And he felt that these pressures to cut costs made that very difficult to do.

DAVIES: You know, I’m sure it’s not easy to get highly trained medical personnel to work in a prison system. It’s not the kind of environment most medical professionals would imagine working in. They’re often in remote places.

So there is going to be a difficulty, I think, in getting good quality people to do that. And they’re probably going to have to pay more. Is that addressed at all when this arrangement was set up?

It’s simply going to – you’re going to have to spend some money – aren’t you? – to take care of literally thousands of people who have health issues.

WESSLER: That’s right. You know, the Bureau of Prisons across the board has struggled to fully staff its medical units. And that’s especially a problem in rural areas where it’s hard to find doctors to come and work.

But there were facilities in my investigation that for months – nearly a year in some cases – had no medical doctor at all or who significantly understaffed their nursing departments for months and months at a time.

In fact, the Office of Inspector General from the Department of Justice found in a previous investigation that a prison called Reeves in West Texas, another GEO Group-run facility, was systematically under-staffing its medical unit.

And only after the investigation did that begin to change. But the fact that it did change after the investigation suggests that it’s a problem that could be fixed and that the contractors weren’t fixing.

DAVIES: You know, you said that in these private prisons, which are for non-citizens. I mean, typically, illegal immigrants who were caught trying to re-enter the country – they’re designed to have fewer services – rehabilitative services, educational program, addiction counseling, mental health services.

But they are supposed to provide some standard of medical care and decent living conditions. And as with all government contracts, there’s a monitoring system, right?

Somebody is supposed to come in regularly, examine the conditions, review records and see whether the public is getting what it’s paying for to these private companies. You looked at a lot of these monitoring reports. What did they show?

WESSLER: Well – so after the Bureau of Prisons set up this system of private facilities, it also set up what is really a pretty robust system of contract monitoring. So it hires a couple of people for each facility to actually be on-site and watch over what the facilities are doing.

And then every year or every six months, a group of monitors trained very specifically in subject areas go into these facilities to check to see if the prisons are following the terms of the contract. I obtained nearly a decade of these monitoring reports. And the reports show that for years, monitors documented deep and systemic problems in these facilities.

And the monitors would send these reports back to Washington. And what I found is that despite these ongoing problems, officials in Washington – contracting officials in Washington – didn’t impose the full fines or use their full enforcement muscle available to them to force changes inside of these facilities.

In fact, the Office of Inspector General report from the Department of Justice that came out recently found that when prisoners died inside of these facilities, and those deaths were connected to medical negligence – that the Bureau of Prisons didn’t have an effective way to force the companies to correct those problems. And so prisoners would die. And the problems would go on.

DAVIES: Now the contracts provided for specific monetary penalties, right? I mean, this is the way you build a contract. I mean, if you don’t deliver the service, you are penalized. And presumably for-profit providers would pay a lot of attention. As you looked at these records in cases where monitors said things are not working here, people are being endangered, do you have a sense of why financial penalties weren’t imposed? What led to those sets of decisions?

WESSLER: I interviewed a number of former Bureau of Prison monitors who were tasked with overseeing the operations and contracts of these facilities. And what I found was that on-the-ground monitors were proposing quite significant fines when things went wrong. So when a facility failed to provide prisoners with infectious disease care or a prisoner died as a result of not receiving the kind of medical care that they needed that the onsite monitors would ask the Bureau of Prisons in Washington to impose significant fines.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

***************

GO TO PART ONE

download
ITFO Newsletter

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Sonni’s Pinterest
If you haven’t “liked” Jamie’s facebook page yet you can do so in the info under this post.

You can also follow the blog by email so you don’t miss any posts. That, too, is in the info beneath the post

Dr. Angela Davis – Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex

Angela Davis
(Sonni’s note: I read this article today. Look at the date. It was written seventeen years ago. Do you think there has been any positive change or has the problem has only got worse? There are so many people who don’t pay attention because they don’t think it affects them. But it does. It affects everyone. It affects the job market, it adds to the greedy nature of many of our leaders in government. It affects our communities and the way we think about those people. The media brainwashes people into thinking that somehow black people has less quality than white people and they deserve to be locked up because they are a danger to society. If you, or anyone you know has that attitude, be sure to send this article to them. Post it on your social media pages and reblog it onto your own blogs. If you go to the pages section near the top of this blog tap on the menu button. You will find a YouTube video of a more recent TED talk of Angela Davis.

Read this entire article. It’s worth it. It says everything I’ve been trying to explain over and over.  We need more people who think this change is important to our society and to our country.

 Dr. angela davis

by Angela Davis

Thu, Sep 10, 1998 12:00 PM EDT

What is the Prison Industrial Complex? Why does it matter?  Angela Y. Davis tells us.

Imprisonment has become the response of first resort to far too many of the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty. These problems often are veiled by being conveniently grouped together under the category “crime” and by the automatic attribution of criminal behavior to people of color. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.

Prisons thus perform a feat of magic. Or rather the people who continually vote in new prison bonds and tacitly assent to a proliferating network of prisons and jails have been tricked into believing in the magic of imprisonment. But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business.

The seeming effortlessness of magic always conceals an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes work. When prisons disappear human beings in order to convey the illusion of solving social problems, penal infrastructures must be created to accommodate a rapidly swelling population of caged people. Goods and services must be provided to keep imprisoned populations alive. Sometimes these populations must be kept busy and at other times — particularly in repressive super-maximum prisons and in INS detention centers — they must be deprived of virtually all meaningful activity. Vast numbers of handcuffed and shackled people are moved across state borders as they are transferred from one state or federal prison to another.

All this work, which used to be the primary province of government, is now also performed by private corporations, whose links to government in the field of what is euphemistically called “corrections” resonate dangerously with the military industrial complex. The dividends that accrue from investment in the punishment industry, like those that accrue from investment in weapons production, only amount to social destruction. Taking into account the structural similarities and profitability of business-government linkages in the realms of military production and public punishment, the expanding penal system can now be characterized as a “prison industrial complex.”

The Color of Imprisonment

Almost two million people are currently locked up in the immense network of U.S. prisons and jails. More than 70 percent of the imprisoned population are people of color. It is rarely acknowledged that the fastest growing group of prisoners are black women and that Native American prisoners are the largest group per capita. Approximately five million people — including those on probation and parole — are directly under the surveillance of the criminal justice system.

Three decades ago, the imprisoned population was approximately one-eighth its current size. While women still constitute a relatively small percentage of people behind bars, today the number of incarcerated women in California alone is almost twice what the nationwide women’s prison population was in 1970. According to Elliott Currie, “[t]he prison has become a looming presence in our society to an extent unparalleled in our history — or that of any other industrial democracy. Short of major wars, mass incarceration has been the most thoroughly implemented government social program of our time.”

To deliver up bodies destined for profitable punishment, the political economy of prisons relies on racialized assumptions of criminality — such as images of black welfare mothers reproducing criminal children — and on racist practices in arrest, conviction, and sentencing patterns. Colored bodies constitute the main human raw material in this vast experiment to disappear the major social problems of our time. Once the aura of magic is stripped away from the imprisonment solution, what is revealed is racism, class bias, and the parasitic seduction of capitalist profit. The prison industrial system materially and morally impoverishes its inhabitants and devours the social wealth needed to address the very problems that have led to spiraling numbers of prisoners.

As prisons take up more and more space on the social landscape, other government programs that have previously sought to respond to social needs — such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families — are being squeezed out of existence. The deterioration of public education, including prioritizing discipline and security over learning in public schools located in poor communities, is directly related to the prison “solution.”

Profiting from Prisoners

As prisons proliferate in U.S. society, private capital has become enmeshed in the punishment industry. And precisely because of their profit potential, prisons are becoming increasingly important to the U.S. economy. If the notion of punishment as a source of potentially stupendous profits is disturbing by itself, then the strategic dependence on racist structures and ideologies to render mass punishment palatable and profitable is even more troubling.

Prison privatization is the most obvious instance of capital’s current movement toward the prison industry. While government-run prisons are often in gross violation of international human rights standards, private prisons are even less accountable. In March of this year, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest U.S. private prison company, claimed 54,944 beds in 68 facilities under contract or development in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Following the global trend of subjecting more women to public punishment, CCA recently opened a women’s prison outside Melbourne. The company recently identified California as its “new frontier.”

Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC), the second largest U.S. prison company, claimed contracts and awards to manage 46 facilities in North America, U.K., and Australia. It boasts a total of 30,424 beds as well as contracts for prisoner health care services, transportation, and security.

Currently, the stocks of both CCA and WCC are doing extremely well. Between 1996 and 1997, CCA’s revenues increased by 58 percent, from $293 million to $462 million. Its net profit grew from $30.9 million to $53.9 million. WCC raised its revenues from $138 million in 1996 to $210 million in 1997. Unlike public correctional facilities, the vast profits of these private facilities rely on the employment of non-union labor.

The Prison Industrial Complex

But private prison companies are only the most visible component of the increasing corporatization of punishment. Government contracts to build prisons have bolstered the construction industry. The architectural community has identified prison design as a major new niche. Technology developed for the military by companies like Westinghouse is being marketed for use in law enforcement and punishment.

Moreover, corporations that appear to be far removed from the business of punishment are intimately involved in the expansion of the prison industrial complex. Prison construction bonds are one of the many sources of profitable investment for leading financiers such as Merrill Lynch. MCI charges prisoners and their families outrageous prices for the precious telephone calls which are often the only contact prisoners have with the free world.

Many corporations whose products we consume on a daily basis have learned that prison labor power can be as profitable as third world labor power exploited by U.S.-based global corporations. Both relegate formerly unionized workers to joblessness and many even wind up in prison. Some of the companies that use prison labor are IBM, Motorola, Compaq, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Boeing. But it is not only the hi-tech industries that reap the profits of prison labor. Nordstrom department stores sell jeans that are marketed as “Prison Blues,” as well as t-shirts and jackets made in Oregon prisons. The advertising slogan for these clothes is “made on the inside to be worn on the outside.” Maryland prisoners inspect glass bottles and jars used by Revlon and Pierre Cardin, and schools throughout the world buy graduation caps and gowns made by South Carolina prisoners.

“For private business,” write Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans (a political prisoner inside the Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin, California) “prison labor is like a pot of gold. No strikes. No union organizing. No health benefits, unemployment insurance, or workers’ compensation to pay. No language barriers, as in foreign countries. New leviathan prisons are being built on thousands of eerie acres of factories inside the walls. Prisoners do data entry for Chevron, make telephone reservations for TWA, raise hogs, shovel manure, make circuit boards, limousines, waterbeds, and lingerie for Victoria’s Secret — all at a fraction of the cost of ‘free labor.’”

Devouring the Social Wealth

Although prison labor — which ultimately is compensated at a rate far below the minimum wage — is hugely profitable for the private companies that use it, the penal system as a whole does not produce wealth. It devours the social wealth that could be used to subsidize housing for the homeless, to ameliorate public education for poor and racially marginalized communities, to open free drug rehabilitation programs for people who wish to kick their habits, to create a national health care system, to expand programs to combat HIV, to eradicate domestic abuse — and, in the process, to create well-paying jobs for the unemployed.

Since 1984 more than twenty new prisons have opened in California, while only one new campus was added to the California State University system and none to the University of California system. In 1996-97, higher education received only 8.7 percent of the State’s General Fund while corrections received 9.6 percent. Now that affirmative action has been declared illegal in California, it is obvious that education is increasingly reserved for certain people, while prisons are reserved for others. Five times as many black men are presently in prison as in four-year colleges and universities. This new segregation has dangerous implications for the entire country.By segregating people labeled as criminals, prison simultaneously fortifies and conceals the structural racism of the U.S. economy. Claims of low unemployment rates — even in black communities — make sense only if one assumes that the vast numbers of people in prison have really disappeared and thus have no legitimate claims to jobs. The numbers of black and Latino men currently incarcerated amount to two percent of the male labor force. According to criminologist David Downes, “[t]reating incarceration as a type of hidden unemployment may raise the jobless rate for men by about one-third, to 8 percent. The effect on the black labor force is greater still, raising the [black] male unemployment rate from 11 percent to 19 percent.”

Hidden Agenda

Mass incarceration is not a solution to unemployment, nor is it a solution to the vast array of social problems that are hidden away in a rapidly growing network of prisons and jails. However, the great majority of people have been tricked into believing in the efficacy of imprisonment, even though the historical record clearly demonstrates that prisons do not work. Racism has undermined our ability to create a popular critical discourse to contest the ideological trickery that posits imprisonment as key to public safety. The focus of state policy is rapidly shifting from social welfare to social control.

Black, Latino, Native American, and many Asian youth are portrayed as the purveyors of violence, traffickers of drugs, and as envious of commodities that they have no right to possess. Young black and Latina women are represented as sexually promiscuous and as indiscriminately propagating babies and poverty. Criminality and deviance are racialized. Surveillance is thus focused on communities of color, immigrants, the unemployed, the undereducated, the homeless, and in general on those who have a diminishing claim to social resources. Their claim to social resources continues to diminish in large part because law enforcement and penal measures increasingly devour these resources. The prison industrial complex has thus created a vicious cycle of punishment which only further impoverishes those whose impoverishment is supposedly “solved” by imprisonment.

Therefore, as the emphasis of government policy shifts from social welfare to crime control, racism sinks more deeply into the economic and ideological structures of U.S. society. Meanwhile, conservative crusaders against affirmative action and bilingual education proclaim the end of racism, while their opponents suggest that racism’s remnants can be dispelled through dialogue and conversation. But conversations about “race relations” will hardly dismantle a prison industrial complex that thrives on and nourishes the racism hidden within the deep structures of our society.

The emergence of a U.S. prison industrial complex within a context of cascading conservatism marks a new historical moment, whose dangers are unprecedented. But so are its opportunities. Considering the impressive number of grassroots projects that continue to resist the expansion of the punishment industry, it ought to be possible to bring these efforts together to create radical and nationally visible movements that can legitimize anti-capitalist critiques of the prison industrial complex. It ought to be possible to build movements in defense of prisoners’ human rights and movements that persuasively argue that what we need is not new prisons, but new health care, housing, education, drug programs, jobs, and education. To safeguard a democratic future, it is possible and necessary to weave together the many and increasing strands of resistance to the prison industrial complex into a powerful movement for social transformation.

Angela Davis is a former political prisoner, long-time activist, educator, and author who has devoted her life to struggles for social justice.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Earlier written post: Upfront and Personal About the the Prison Industrial Complex

In The Beginning I thought He was Safe In The Hole – part 3

PART THREE

by Sonni Quick

Most people don’t have a reason to think about our prison population so they don’t think it

women prison labor
photo credit:
popularresistance.org

affects them. But you do know people who had a hard time finding a job. There are many products the average consumer buys off the shelf that people are unaware are made by  inmates. Clothing, furniture, uniforms worn by fast food workers, electronics, weapons used by our military and

police, and the list goes on and on. These are companies with familiar household names. If you owned stock in that company wouldn’t it be in your best interest to have the highest possible dividend paid? If that product could be made using free labor, or at the highest about $2 an hour for highly specialized work, wouldn’t you want to make sure the prisons were full?

inmate labor
inmates making dentures
photo credit:
springfieldnewssun.com

Inmates should work.  learning a trade helps when they are released back into society.  But does that mean they should work for free or nearly free? The US has gone through a serious job shortage in the past six years. We all know that. We all know how hard it has been for many people not being able to find work. But why would these companies even want to pay minimum wage when their profit margin hinges on the number of people we have locked up? No one believes America has so many more criminals than any other country in the world, so think, what is the real reason behind this?

This is where the Prison Industrial Complex comes into play. So many states are having trouble balancing their budgets. Schools have closed, teachers have been laid off, roads are in disrepair, and that list goes on. The prison corporations, like  CCA   and Corizon, which handles medical are just two the many of the prison corporations with a long list of lawsuits.  Five years CCA alone housed more than 60,000 inmates and was the 5th largest prison corporation in America. What are the numbers today? This is the corporation that controls the prison Jamie is at, so I know just how substandard their care can be.  These corporations go to the state governments with a sweet deal. “Let us take over your prisons for you. We’ll take care of providing medical, food, and education. This will free up money you can use on education and infrastructure.We’ll save you money.”  They pay heavy campaign contributions to get what they want. The devil is in the deal.

The only catch, they want 20 year contracts with the government signing on the dotted line promising the prisons will be kept 80-90-100% full. CCA used to only be in the south, but have now even spread to other countries who want to the US model of prisons. Yes, there are states that have to be kept 100% full – at all times – or the government has to pay them per head for the vacancies, which can amount to millions of dollars. If you read the news you hear that our government is trying to lower the incarcerations rate. It sounds as though times are changing, but is it? One thing is offset by another. Absurdly long prison sentences far beyond what the “crime” deserves. The injustice in our justice system is unlike any other country. People can be held in jail for years without being convicted for a crime simply because they can’t make bail. Since it is predominately lower income neighborhoods that are canvassed, with people pulled over and harassed for no other reason than they are walking down the street – and also for being black. Lower income people can’t come up with bail.

Once someone is on the inside of the walls they are dependent on corporate services to simply make a phone call that is many times more expensive than for anyone else in the country. Why should this be? There are people trying to change that, but corporations like Securus, who provides the phone service many inmates need to use to call loved ones  are making the money are fighting them tooth and nail. It is the families who have to foot the bill. Then there are the corporations who have bid on the contracts to supply the commissary. Huge profit. Until 2 years I go I was able to buy paper and envelopes through Amazon and have it shipped to the prison for Jamie Cummings, the same way I send books. A corporation won the bid to supply those items and now they have to get it at the commissary at higher prices. But what happens when commissary privileges have been revoked. Being able to buy deodorant and soap is a privilege. Right now Jamie can only go to the commissary once a month so he is severely limited. There are corporations like Aramark who supply food. They have caused food strikes and lawsuits because of cutting portions down and serving substandard food.

In Texas, no inmate makes any money for any work they do. Completely free labor. TDCJ – Texas Department of Criminal Justice says they give “good time”, but there are many ways any good time earned is taken away. If you are in the levels G4,G5 or adseg you are not allowed to work.  Your value then is just to fill bed and spend money while they feed you slop and often deny necessary medical care.

Even though the media tells you incarcerations are down, more and more prisons are built and auctioned off to the highest bidder with the promise of a never ending supply of prisoners. Logically, why are they being built when the govt is showing concern and wants to free non violent crimes. Aren’t illegals crossing the border non violent crimes? Texas now has over 110 prisons. We no longer deport people caught trying to cross the border but instead imprison them, they have become another source of income for the prison corporations. People cross the border because their home situation is horrendous and they have the hope and misinformation that maybe it will be better here. The statement recently made by Donald Trump that Mexico is “sending” us their criminals and rapists is absurd. Hispanics are now added to the same slave status that many blacks live with. There are also businesses in Mexico who have shut down and relocated inside the walls of prisons here in the US. it is so much more cost effective for them to have the same people work for free. One problem the American people have is that many of them read headlines and hear news blurbs but never look to find the truth.

In many states, the prisoners have to pay room and board while they are incarcerated and it accrues throughout their time inside. They are presented with a bill after they leave. It is called a “pay to stay” fee. If they have to pay should they at least get enough food to eat, AC in the summer months, especially in the south, and heat in the winter? If it isn’t paid, they can be picked up and sent back to prison. Since rehabilitation is scarce and many parolees are literally dumped on the street, sometimes straight from solitary confinement, they have no way of getting their lives together. Inmates are a commodity. Nothing more, nothing less. Prison corporations have no vested interested in educating inmates and helping them transition into society. Education costs money. They put on a show on their websites about all the great things they do for inmates, but that is all it is – a show for the public. Many times, even if a parolee has family, they may have been gone so long that support and help is not an option. Old inmates, who have become a financial burden, often get dumped on the sidewalk. Many parolees are mentally destroyed by being kept in isolation for too long and there is no hope of them having a life that we, in the free world, would consider normal.

I’ve learned a lot in these years of writing to Jamie. Before this, I knew nothing about prisons. My knowledge came from TV shows, movies and occasional stories in the media, just like everyone else. I watched the series TV series, Prison Break, about a group of inmates who planned breaking out of prison. The show had you rooting for them to succeed. But this isn’t real life. The brutality found in TV prisons don’t come close to reality. The TV show, “Orange is the New Black” is meant to be entertainment, while throwing in a a tiny bit of reality. The warden, officers and guards don’t come close to portraying the real thing. People were glued to these shows week after week never about the real people in prison, and how they have to live. I constantly hear the line, “If you do the crime, you have to do the time”, yet people give no thought to what those crimes really were and was justice actually served? Who got punished and who didn’t get punished for the same crime?

Are there really bad people locked up who should never get out? Absolutely. They are now off the street and society is safe from them. Does that mean they should be continually tortured? No. Was the sentence perhaps “Life with no parole including getting beaten, starved. medications withheld, water shut off, food spit on with guards being to do anything they want including murdering them for fun?” I don’t think so.

2.4 million people who are locked up right now, or are still “on paper”. When someone is paroled, they are not free. If they are on probation they are not free. They are tethered to their prison sentence with the threat of being sucked back in if one small mistake was made. The smallest infraction of any rule, even missing a meeting with your parole officer or if you unknowingly spend time with an ex-felon, or someone carrying a gun, in a age where many thousands of people carry guns on their person, could get you put back in prison in a heartbeat with few questions asked. This is how the prisons are kept full without it costing the time and another of a conviction. They just sneak you in through the back door. The redivism rate is over 70%. Why? What broke down? Why can’t the parolees make it on the outside? Because they are set up to fail. If they can’t get a job or rent an apartment, how do they live? So even those with a clear determination to live a good live is often forced to find another way to eat. There aren’t enough halfway houses for the amount of people let go. Three out of four end up back inside because they can’t earn money and get started in life. They are left with few other options.

Unfortunately our society is not very welcoming of parolees or ex-felons. Getting job, being accepted at a school, renting an apartment or opening a bank account is not very easy when you have to check the box that asks you if you have ever been convicted of a crime. Fortunately there are organizations working on changing that so parolees have a better chance of integrating back into society, although it’s only in the process stage. There are many things we, on the outside, take for granted, but it is not something granted to those being released from prison after they have “repaid their debt to society”. If they can’t get a job, no matter how determined they are to have a better life, the walls society puts up can not be broken down by someone with a sentence.

Until things are changed and more is done for the people who have been deemed less worthy than the rest of society, it is a problem that is going to continue growing. No amount of dressing it up will make it look prettier than it is. We know many inmates need to be released.  Will help be available for them? Keep inside the ones who really are seriously a problem, and let go the ones who have done enough time for their crimes. Let them go before we destroy the ones who want to live, with all their marbles intact. Let them work and get paid for working and keep the money going around the way it should.

Corporations should be paying people a real wage who do the job of make their products instead of lobbying and paying politicians to vote in their favor to continue using slave labor. Instead of money going to the prison industrial complex, let it be used where it is needed most, on the people. As long as corporations have a stranglehold on the people of this country to use and exploit, we will continue our slide downward. The US government tells the world we don’t use solitary confinement the way we do and they get away with it.

Slavery moved from outside in the fields to inside the prison walls is still slavery no matter what you call it.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and other news about injustice in the world