Monday, November 17, 2014

NYT questions state's use of private prisons.

The MDOC scandal made it to the national media.  The New York Times reported:

In 1982, Christopher B. Epps, a young schoolteacher, took a second job as a guard at the facility known as Parchman Farm, the only prison operated at the time by the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Eventually he had to choose a path. “It worked out that I was making more as a correctional officer than as a teacher,” Mr. Epps would later recall in an interview for a corrections newsletter.

By the time he spoke those words in 2009, Mr. Epps was being feted as Mississippi’s longest-serving corrections commissioner. The state inmate population had quadrupled, five private prisons had been built to help house them, and, according to a federal grand jury indictment, Mr. Epps had found a new, secretive way to bolster his income.....

 Mr. Epps had inherited the private prisons when he became commissioner in August 2002, the legacy of 1990s-era lawmakers who saw them as a cost-effective solution to an overcrowding crisis. Mr. McCrory, a former sheriff’s deputy, had sponsored a 1993 privatization bill. It died in the state legislature, but the idea gathered steam, and Mississippi opened a private prison in 1996.

By 2013, the system had four private prisons and the nation’s second-highest incarceration rate. Projected inmate population growth was expected to cost the state $266 million over the next 10 years. As in other states, the conservative Republicans who dominate state government here began to explore the cost-saving potential of sentencing reform.

Mr. Epps was chosen to lead a task force on the topic. The group eventually devised a sweeping plan that, among other things, gave some nonviolent offenders new alternatives to prison. It became law in 2014. Mr. Epps called it “landmark” legislation that would “control corrections costs without jeopardizing public safety one bit.”........ Rest of article.


Anonymous said...

Privatizing hasn't worked well. It's been more costly and less efficient.
Just look at the increased costs of privatizing military base services.
It sounded good at the time, we just didn't think it through and realize that the business model demands increasing profits and it's not the consumer than always benefits from reduced costs.
In government services, there is no " supply" and " demand" or other widgets to buy.

Anonymous said...

Here's the real kicker: "It worked out that I was making more as a correctional officer than as a teacher."

If it worked the other way around, fewer students would grow up to be under the care of correctional officers.

You get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

6:48 - great statement. Back it up or shut it up. Easy to make a comprehensive statement without facts. Realize your 'opinion' is probably enough for you and a few others that don't bother to think for themselves.

Privatization costs/benefits include much more than this year's outlay under one system or the other (particularly when considering the military). Long term costs, pensions, health care, lack of flexibility to adjust all add to the benefits of privatization.

Just as we have found out from having state employees run prisons - corruption occurs. It also has occurred in some of the privatized operations.

In state run facilities we don't pay enough to have quality correction officers. Low pay tends to increase option of graft on their part (not all, of course.) Same thing in the private run facilities if the contract doesn't provide for adequate pay. Far be it for me to call for higher pay for poor work (more money for the same result) but I don't buy your argument that government run facilities are any better.

Anonymous said...

Columbus Air Force Base bid out plane maintenance and certain training aspects [simulators] to private companies back in the 1980's. Wing Commander spoke to our civic club about it just before it was implemented and lamented that if we went to war, civilians wouldn't go to war with them. Hasn't worked out that way, and I've never heard much valid complaints with aircraft readiness and training.

Now the other side of that coin is companies like Haliburton that have allegedly fleeced us for billions with war zone contracts. I know an individual that worked for a contracts as a friggin lifeguard [swimming pool version] in Iraq, made over $80k. Pretty easy job because that base had no swimming pool!

Say What Now? said...

4:07; What is meant by a 'lack of flexibility to adjust'? You lost me.

Anonymous said...

4:53 - good question. "Lack of flexibility to adjust" - when missions change, program needs no longer exist, technology changes staffing requirements, etc - governments lack flexibility, both because of the 'politics' and because of the government policies to change accordingly. At every level of both civilian and military buraucracies, employees have 'rift' rights to positions if they can claim any degree of knowledge of the position (if they can spell it they can get it).

Private companies have much more flexibility to adjust. If they gain a new contract, they hire more employees. If they lose a contract employees are either laid off or transferred to other areas. They are not limited in their market to "government contracts" - most provide the same or similar functions to private companies and can move employees to those operations.

Personnel policies and government bureaucracy can get much more detailed, but that was the intent of the comment.

Anonymous said...

4:48 - pretty weak attempt, but thanks for trying.

So - the military decided to contract out some functions and because the Wing Commander bitched about it at a civic club, that's evidence. Surely you can do better than thatto defend such a blanket statement that privatizing has "...been more costly and less efficient."

The Wing Commander's statement (erroneous, as we have learned through experience) about private companies not going to war doesn't have anything to do with your statement "....Just look at the increased costs of privatizing military base services. It sounded good at the time, we just didn't think it through and realize that the business model demands increasing profits and it's not the consumer than always benefits from reduced costs." Him claiming the private companies wouldn't go to war just doesn't quite back up these claims.

And - what else would you expect from a Wing Commander (or any other official in other branches)? Not using airmen for these (and other) functions reduces their importance and power. Remember the first rule of government management - Pyrimids get taller the bigger the base is. The more people you have working under you the higher you are in the mountains of the bureaucracy.

And I love your backing up your statement with "allegations" (Haliburton has 'allegededly fleeced us") First off, evidently this is one of those private companies that wouldn't go off to war. But skipping that one little detail, the military itself has also 'allegedly' fleeced us of billions on their own.

As to your 'friend' - if this was actually true, you should report it. The whistleblower premium could be sent to you promptly. But the real problem is, that same situation exists in the military and civilian government bureaucracies throughout government; local, state, federal and tribal.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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