The Private Prisons Profit on Youth

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

287px-Sing_SingWe have had a lot of discussions here about the ever growing private prison system in the United States, where our country has become the world leader in imprisoning its citizens. Many blogs have been written discussing our world prison leadership and the fact that it stems from the failed “War on Drugs”, which has tended to focus on people in poverty and/or people of color. The for-profit prison industry has had a growth spurt that can be directly traced to that aspect of the conservative movement that has disparaged government services and at the same time pushed for privatization of government services using the false concept that private industry can do it better and cheaper. It is an ideas that to me seems nonsensical on its face because of the absolute need that private industry turns a profit and in today’s economic scheme that profit has to continually rise as time passes. Business strategy, which by definition, must focus on profit has focused on cutting costs as a means of building profit. Cutting costs then devolves into hiring less skilled workers, cutting down on services provided and in a business like private prisons reducing the quality of care. When ot comes to reduction of services and diminishing of quality of care when it comes to the prison industry, I’m sure that the majority of public opinion would approve of even more draconian measures. After all those convicted of a crime are generally scorned and feared. Muscular fundamentalist philosophy has discarded the Jesus of turn the other cheek into a Jesus of vengeance and so there is even in some circles moral approval of treating prison inmates harshly. There is now a widespread use of solitary confinement as a tool of prison punishment and that confinement has stretched from weeks, too months and too years. We are after all, a society that has a majority of Americans for torture in our post 9/11 era.

In 2008 we saw the opening of a scandal in Pennsylvania where it was discovered that juvenile court judges were sentencing youths to prison for minor offenses because they had received money from sources in the private prison industry. Two judges were convicted in this case and it was seen that many youths were adversely affected and are now suing for unlawful imprisonment. It is this profiting on the imprisonment of youth that I would like to address broadly in this blog. For the most part my reference links will appear at its conclusion. This is a very disturbing problem that I think cuts to the heart of what kind of society we want to live in and I would hope that others find this as disturbing as I do.The impetus for this blog is a Huffington Post story titled: “Prisoners of Profit” by Chris Kirkham http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-kirkham/

Chris wrote:

“From a glance at his background, one might assume that James F. Slattery would have a difficult time convincing any state in America to entrust him with the supervision of its lawbreaking youth.

Over the past quarter century, Slattery’s for-profit prison enterprises have run afoul of the Justice Department and authorities in New York, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and Texas for alleged offenses ranging from condoning abuse of inmates to plying politicians with undisclosed gifts while seeking to secure state contracts.”

He goes on to give specifics about incidents that have occurred in Slattery’s prisons such as a teen dying in a Texas Boot Camp that went untreated by authorities although the boy was vomiting; a Maryland facility that encouraged kids to fight on Saturday mornings as a method of dispute resolution; and in Florida charges that the company failed to report incidents of riots, assaults and sexual abuse.

“Despite that history, Slattery’s current company, Youth Services International, has retained and even expanded its contracts to operate juvenile prisons in several states. The company has capitalized on budgetary strains across the country as governments embrace privatization in pursuit of cost savings. Nearly 40 percent of the nation’s juvenile delinquents are today committed to private facilities, according to the most recent federal data from 2011, up from about 33 percent twelve years earlier.

Over the past two decades, more than 40,000 boys and girls in 16 states have gone through one of Slattery’s prisons, boot camps or detention centers, according to a Huffington Post analysis of juvenile facility data.”

It all returns to the analysis of whether for-profit prisons for youth provide not only cost savings, but actually are effective in reducing rates of recidivism. Study after study has shown that recidivism rates have actually increased with private prisons and that costs have exceeded prisons maintained by public employees. This large and growing industry though has become an investment opportunity for some and a profit point for others, yet the abuses continue unabated.

“Seventeen-year-old Hillary Transue did what lots of 17-year-olds do: Got into mischief. Hillary’s mischief was composing a MySpace page poking fun at the assistant principal of the high school she attended in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Hillary was an honor student who’d never had any trouble with the law before. And her MySpace page stated clearly that the page was a joke. But despite all that, Hilary found herself charged with harassment. She stood before a judge and heard him sentence her to three months in a juvenile detention facility.

What she expected was perhaps a stern lecture. What she got was a perp walk – being led away in handcuffs as her stunned parents stood by helplessly. Hillary told The New York Times, “I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare. All I wanted to know was how this could be fair and why the judge would do such a thing.”

It wasn’t until two years later that she found out why. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, two judges pleaded guilty to operating a kickback scheme involving juvenile offenders. The judges, Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, took more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from a private prison company to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers. Since 2003, Ciaverella had sentenced an estimated 5,000 juveniles. Conahan was accused of setting up the contracts. Many of the youngsters shipped off to the detention centers were first-time offenders.

PA Child Care is a juvenile detention center in Pittston Township, Pennsylvania. It was opened in February 2003. It has a sister company, Western PA Child Care, in Butler County, Pennsylvania. Treatment at both facilities is provided by Mid Atlantic Youth Services. Gregory Zappala took sole ownership of the company when he purchased co-owner Robert Powell’s share in June 2008.

In July 2009, Powell pled guilty to failing to report a felony and being an accessory to tax evasion conspiracy in connection with $770,000 in kickbacks he paid to Ciavarella and Conahan in exchange for facilitating the development of his facilities.

The childcare facilities have also been criticized for their costs, which ranged as high as $315 per child per day. Butler County paid Western PA Child Care about $800,000 in payments between 2005 and 2008. Butler County did not renew Western PA Child Care’s contract after an extension of the contract ran out at the end of 2008.” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/1905:the-corrupt-corporate-incarceration-complex

Now I would be remiss in not saying that there are other studies that laud the use of private prisons, on such is “The Reason Foundation” which is purportedly a libertarian organization. They have a report on private prisons with a conclusion that lauds the private prison industry for providing better services for the prisoners. That report can be found here: http://www.burnetcountytexas.org/docs/6-Segal-Commission-on-PrisonAbuse.pdf  Interestingly though the Reason Foundation seems to stretch libertarianism to its breaking point in when it comes to Federal Funding of certain educational tests it supports as shown here: http://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/the-reason-foundation-a-disgrace/  Finally though comes the fact that the Reason Foundation is one of the front groups funded by the right wing ideologues The Koch Brothers and Sarah Scaife Foundation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reason_Foundation  The family history of both the Koch’s and the Scaifes (Mellon Family) show that much of the wealth garnered came from government and indeed a Mellon was the Treasury Secretary during the Coolidge Administration. Their libertarianism is their philosophy for all but the members of their economic class.

“In Florida, where private contractors have in recent years taken control of all of the state’s 3,300 youth prison beds, YSI now manages more than $100 million in contracts, about 10 percent of the system. Its facilities have generated conspicuously large numbers of claims that guards have assaulted youth, according to a HuffPost compilation of state reports. A YSI facility in Palm Beach County had the highest rate of reported sexual assaults out of 36 facilities reviewed in Florida, the Bureau of Justice Statistics report found.

The state’s sweeping privatization of its juvenile incarceration system has produced some of the worst re-offending rates in the nation. More than 40 percent of youth offenders sent to one of Florida’s juvenile prisons wind up arrested and convicted of another crime within a year of their release, according to state data. In New York state, where historically no youth offenders have been held in private institutions, 25 percent are convicted again within that timeframe.”

In my opinion there are three aspects to the private prison industry that one should ponder upon when judging its efficacy:

  1. 1.    Can a for-profit firm do the job cheaper? In my opinion it is impossible for a private entity to deliver the same level of care as a public entity. Profit is the underlying reason. We must consider that running a prison is in no way similar to manufacturing. In manufacturing the issue is efficiency and economy of scale. In dealing with humans one cannot use economy of scale as a comparison factor since one is not producing widgets. As for efficiency the question is how do you equal performance by increasing efficiency in a prison context. I don’t believe it can be done. Perhaps others might show me good reasons why it can be done.
  2. 2.    In our legal system should we surrender control of custodial care of criminals to private industry? My position is that there are certain functions inherent to any government that needs to be performed solely by government. Among these are military, fire fighters, police and the entire criminal justice system. This is not to say that any of these functions can’t be corrupted if run by government, or that any governmental system cannot be corrupt. Yet in my opinion if government makes the criminal law and if under that law people are incarcerated the ultimate responsibility for the caretaker function of that incarceration should fall to government. We see above that with youth facilities in Pennsylvania run as for-profit institutions a corrupt conspiracy developed to maintain levels of incarcerated youth at a profitable number and due to this judges were bribed and youths sent to jail merely to satisfy the need for profit. Do we really support that in our country, or in our States?
  3. 3.    Should a humane society treat its prisoners inhumanely? This shouldn’t be, but is, a subtle question today. I have little doubt that the majority of Americans believe that whatever happens to people convicted of crimes they deserve. To me that kind of thinking is institutionalized savagery. Yet I anticipate the well worn question of what if something was done to someone I love. The analogy amuses me because it assumes that my beliefs make me merely a passive do-gooder, which is far from the case. If someone I loved were hurt by a criminal I would have little compunction in killing them violently if I had the chance and would gladly accept the punishment for same. The problem is that as a society we almost never know for certain if the supposed guilty party really is guilty, whether if accused by the authorities, or convicted. The police may well accuse someone of murdering a loved one, but there have been too many murder convictions overthrown for a conviction ever to be a certainty. Too many people have been convicted by circumstantial evidence, or by eyewitness accounts proven to be untrue. Because of that uncertainty, my “avenging hand” would be stayed unless the crime occurred before my eyes. Since that is such an extremely rare happenstance the certainly of not killing an innocent is at enough of a level for me not to want to take the chance. By the same token the vagaries of our criminal justice system are such that perhaps 5%, to use a conservative estimate, of criminals are wrongly convicted. That 5% would represent more than 100,000 people and that’s assuming that the legal system gets it right 95% of the time. For those 100,000 innocent people to be brutalized by the system that deprives them of liberty is unacceptable to me. Then again, that’s why I am opposed to the death penalty which to me if it results in the death of one innocent person, has caused one death too many.

I believe that the entire concept of a privatized prison system is an abomination and even more so when we are dealing with the incarceration of youths. What is your opinion?

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

http://projects.huffingtonpost.com/prisoners-of-profit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/29142654/#.Umq7zhAeNlI

http://abcnews.go.com/US/mark-ciavarella-pa-juvenile-court-judge-convicted-alleged/story?id=12965182

http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/inc_Too_Good_to_be_True.pdf

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/1905:the-c,orrupt-corporate-incarceration-complex

http://jonathanturley.org/2011/11/26/the-incarceration-of-black-men-in-america/

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/06/29/obama-and-the-war-on-drugs-hypocrisy-in-action-2/

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/01/19/americas-broken-criminal-justice-system/

113 thoughts on “The Private Prisons Profit on Youth

  1. Mike,
    This is a story I have been following for years, literally. I was in Mississippi where I did a lot of consulting for the juvenile court system. That was when Chet Henley was juvenile court judge in Hinds County. The juvenile detention center in Hinds County now bears his name, “Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center.” That is the the county Jackson, the state capitol, is in. There are now about sixteen juvenile facilities scattered around the state. These places have gotten a reputation as being hellholes that probably create more criminals than they save. There have been lawsuits, but it is not clear to me that conditions have improved. The Henley-Young facility has gone through multiple directors who seem to have either resigned under pressure or been fired. That is only one state. Multiply that by fifty.

    Here is a brief excerpt from a 2012 report by a court-appointed inspector on the Henley-Young center:

    “This lack of sufficient staff has caused the facility to practice imminent and deliberate harm to youth … the facility is forced to place the kids on lockdown most of the day; not because they want to, but because it’s the only way to maintain any type of control,” reads a court-appointed inspector’s report on the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center in Hinds County, Mississippi. “This lack of appropriate staffing dictates the level of violence that is experienced in the facility.”

    The lockup for up to 84 youth is unclean and “has a dungeon-like feeling.” Two juveniles admitted to the facility were allowed no phone call or shower. While there’s some limited recreational programming for boys, there’s none apparent for girls.

    My sources tell me also there has been sexual abuse and exploitation of juvenile inmates by correctional staff. I have no way to confirm that, but given what we do know, I am not surprised in the least. I knew Chet Henley well, and he must be spinning in his grave like a gyroscope.

  2. Good story and timely. Great minds and all that, I had been considering a story on this subject. You beat me to it, and did a better job that I could have. Well done.

  3. Although I haven’t been following this story as long as OS, I have been following it since first learning about Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan. It’s an absolute disgrace that we as a society are not more alarmed and up in arms about the private prison systems and due in no small part to minimal coverage in the MSM (although that seems to be changing for the better in some ways). Good story on an important topic, Mike.

  4. Actually, I’ve been wondering a little why Hollywood hasn’t used the abuses the private prison systems engender as grist for the mill. “Brubaker”, although it dealt with abuses at underfunded mismanaged state prisons, was one of Robert Redford’s better films.

  5. Great job Mike. The bottom line to this privatization of prisons is money. As you noted, you can follow it all the way to some of usual suspects.

  6. I have researched this extensively and it goes back to some years ago, when I warned there was no legal bridge between constitutional (federal) protections and the due process of civil matters. This is a privatization to eliminate oversight and 14th Amendment binds on states by constitutional protections. We see this already in several of the Florida and Texas prisons now using “slave labor” to build products for direct end users monopolizing on such labor–Talapia Farms in Colorado, saddler and leather goods in Texas and cadaver dogs for search and rescue. These prisons get start up capital from companies that receive cheap goods, then mark them up to the public while claiming they sell to prison guards and what not. It’s a lie. Tandy Leather now The Leather Factory in fact supplies discount leather to such prisons in Texas, where they build for sale, gun belts saddles and other leather goods for the State Police. It is a move towards China-like Communism where the rich enslave the poor and pay $.30 cents an hour to inmates–claiming it teaches them a trade which they won’t be able to compete with on the outside, because of the very work they did on the inside. This is the game–slave labor in exchange for donated upstart capital and forward contracting with the donors.

  7. Great job, Mike. In my years as an ER nurse at our County Hospital, I saw the horrors that were inflicted on prisoners as we were the the place that Sheriff Joe brought his prisoners who ‘slipped in the shower’ or ‘ran into a door’. That was just the County prisoners. I can only imagine the abuses suffered at the hands of private prisons. Now the question is ‘what can we do to stop this?’ Unfortunately I don’t think we have a Charles Dickens in America these days.

  8. Mike

    the rush to warehouse juveniles for sometimes petty crimes is creating a permanent prison population. people who just don’t know how to interact with others without violence because they’ve never been exposed to anything else.

    expect the worst from a child and the worst is what you’ll get, for their entire life.

  9. Mike S.,

    Interesting. I am wondering if there are examples where private prisons are very successful, and what are the percentage(s) of these ‘misbehaviors’ transpiring in comparison to the public prisons industry? Where do they (private prisons) get their start-up funds from? The states? The feds? What type of business model do private prisons follow? If the private prison ‘fails’, then who takes over the prison? The public sector?

  10. When government is out of control, the private sector, being predatory, jumps in to feed off the same trough. Behind every privatization is a crony deal. The ACA website is a good example. The First Lady’s fellow Princeton classmate got her company 600 million dollars in a no bid contract. Crony capitalism. Hard working Americans pay high taxes. Government employees get great pensions and healthcare for poor performance. Politicians get rich from sweetheart deals. And major corporations wade in the waters of taxpayer money. Working people and small business, well they’re the chumps.

  11. The for-profit prison industry has had a growth spurt that can be directly traced to that aspect of the conservative movement that has disparaged government services and at the same time pushed for privatization of government services using the false concept that private industry can do it better and cheaper… This is a very disturbing problem that I think cuts to the heart of what kind of society we want to live in and I would hope that others find this as disturbing as I do … I believe that the entire concept of a privatized prison system is an abomination and even more so when we are dealing with the incarceration of youths. What is your opinion?Mike S

    A historian writing in “Reader’s Companion To Military History”, points out the ancient dark ages source for this privatization Mike S points out:

    So many theories, revisions, and counterrevisions have been proposed to explain the term feudalism that it has become like Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: we may not know what it is, but we know it when we see it … Feudalism … was essentially the extreme privatization of the government functions of defense, administration, and justice. The mechanism for putting these functions into private hands and paying for them was the fief

    (American Feudalism – 6). The practice Mike S describes, for-profit incarceration, draws some of the most un-American types of criminals one can imagine:

    A grand jury in south Texas indicted Mr Cheney and Alberto Gonzales, the former Attorney General, on state charges that they blocked an investigation into the mistreatment of prisoners.

    The indictment cites a “money trail” relating to Mr Cheney’s financial stake in prison-related businesses, including the Vanguard Group, which has an interest in privately-run federal jails in the region.

    According to a grand jury in Willacy County, Mr Cheney is “is “profiteering from depriving human beings of their liberty”.

    (ibid, “The Cheney” Link). It does not take a degree in rocket science to know that those who love torture, like Cheney and Gonzales, should never come near even a legit prison, much less an illegitimate dark ages type of prison.

  12. Mike,

    Well done! We’re on the road to privatizing everything–the military/wars, schools, prisons, spying for the NSA, the postal service, parking meters in Chicago…

    *****

    Do Private Contractors Save the Government Money?
    By Erik Kain
    9/18/11
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/09/18/do-private-contractors-save-the-government-money/

    I’ve written about faux “privatization” before, which typically entails renting out government work to contractors who are said to be cheaper and more efficient. Private prisons are a major example of this. So are mercenary outfits like Blackwater (the media often just calls these guys “private contractors”).

    In any case, there is a time for contractors to do work for the government – short-term, project-based work makes sense, like construction jobs. We don’t expect the government to have a Department of Construction. They can bid the work out. But a lot of faux privatization schemes are not short term – public libraries turning their operations over to private for-profit companies just to name an example.

    I’ve always been skeptical that this sort of thing made much sense for governments, and now Kevin Drum points to a new report which suggests that maybe I’ve been right all along:

    “The result of POGO’s analysis was shocking. In 94 percent (33 of the 35) of the occupational series POGO analyzed, the average annual contractor billing rate was much more than the average annual full compensation for federal employees: on average, contractors may be billing the government approximately 1.83 times what the government pays federal employees to perform similar work. When the average annual contractor billing rates were compared with the average annual full compensation paid to private sector employees in the open market, POGO found that in all occupational classifications studied, the contractor billing rates were, on average, more than twice the costs incurred by private sector employers for the same services.

    “The most egregious example of an outsourced occupational classification that resulted in excessive costs rather than cost savings is claims assistance and examining—administrative support positions that involve examining, reviewing, developing, adjusting, reconsidering, or recommending authorization of claims by or against the federal government. To provide these services, on average, federal employees are fully compensated at $57,292 per year, private sector employees are fully compensated at $75,637 per year, and the average annual contractor billing rate is $276,598 per year.”

    Kevin snarks, “Federal labor unions might be tough bargainers, but they’re pikers compared to the suits on mahogany row. Those are the guys who really know how to work the system. If you’re on the lookout for overpaid chair warmers with cushy jobs, that’s your first stop.”

  13. Who’s Minding the Kids?: Have Profits Distorted the Mission of Rehabilitating Inmates at Mississippi’s Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility?
    3/27/11
    http://jonathanturley.org/2011/03/27/who%E2%80%99s-minding-the-kids-have-profits-distorted-the-mission-of-rehabilitating-inmates-at-mississippi%E2%80%99s-walnut-grove-youth-correctional-facility/

    Excerpt:
    From NPR: “The Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU National Prison Project have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 13 inmates against the prison operator, GEO Group, the prison administration and state officials. The complaint describes rampant contraband brought in by guards, sex between female guards and male inmates, inadequate medical care, prisoners held inhumanely in isolation, guards brutalizing inmates and inmate-on-inmate violence that was so brutal it led to brain damage.”

    The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice began an investigation into some of these charges earlier this year. NPR says its own investigation has raised “the fundamental question of whether profits have distorted the mission of rehabilitating young inmates.”

    Walnut Grove, the nation’s largest juvenile prison, houses 1,200 boys and young men. It is the only facility that locks up thirteen-year-olds with 22-year-olds. The typical guard-to-inmate ratio is 1 officer to 10 or 12 juvenile prisoners. A state audit of the Walnut Grove facility showed a guard-to-inmate ratio of 1 to 60! Salaries for prison staff are reportedly the largest expenditure of a correctional budget. Evidently, cutting staff is a good way of cutting costs.

    The inmates in the Walnut Grove facility outnumber the citizens of the small town by 2 to 1. The prison reportedly pays Walnut Grove $15,000 a month in lieu of taxes. The facility’s payments comprise nearly 15% of the town’s annual budget. The mayor said, “For a small town, that’s a lot of money and it helps us maintain a full-time police department that we wouldn’t be able to afford without that income.”

  14. HumpinDog,
    I have no idea, but would not be the least surprised. Their tentacles are everywhere. Their enterprises have invaded practically every aspect of our economy and society. It can’t be that they need the money. The Koch brothers are now in their 70s and already have vast wealth, thanks to their rapacious business practices. If the Keystone pipeline goes through, they stand to make at least $100 Billion dollars off of that project alone. Makes Bill Gates and Warren Buffet look like homeless panhandlers by comparison. Since they can’t take it with them, what is the purpose?

    Let me guess. Like most psychopaths, it is about power and control, not the money.

  15. Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan should be executed.
    Any judge who violates the public trust like that deserves the death penalty

  16. I agree that all prisons should be run by government.

    There is also the problem of proportionality. If being sent to prison risks your life, being raped and used as a sex slave, or destroys your life potential by making it impossible to get anything but a menial labor job, or get a loan: That increases crime, it doesn’t decrease crime.

    Once you send a shoplifter or pot smoker to jail, or even a joy-riding teenage car thief, you have probably created a career criminal that will go on to do a hundred or thousand times as much harm to society as their initial offense.

    The purpose of prison does not have to be “vengeance.”

    The logical purpose of prison (in my view) is two-fold. One is to sequester those people from society that have proven they do not have the self-control to keep themselves from harming society. Thus they need imposed control. Although at some point psychological evaluation might mean some have developed self-control and warrant release, for many incarceration has to be permanent. And if they are still so out of control in prison that they harm other prisoners or prison personnel, they may need to be caged in isolation and prevented from those physical interactions as well (although verbalized social contact seems fine to me.)

    The other purpose of prison is to enforce consequences as proof that punishment WILL be enforced, otherwise laws will be disregarded and broken at will.

    Neither type of imprisonment is “vengeance.” Punishment is not always vengeance, if you impose a timeout on your child you aren’t taking angry vengeance. Both imprisonment and time-out for a kid deprive a person of freedom, but the authority in both cases (society or a parent) does not have to be sadistic or cause pain or terror. Deprivation of freedom is the punishment.

    I have no problem with escalating punishment based on previous offenses, I think that should always be taken into account (including for fines against corporations).

    I don’t think it is as simplistic as the no-context “three strikes” legislation, but previous offenses ARE evidence that punishment and (for people) psychological counseling and therapy have been ineffective, and punishment needs to be escalated, eventually to life imprisonment to keep the person from causing any further harm to society. But again, that is not vengeance; punishment does not have to be vengeance.

  17. HumpinDog, ALEC is involved from start to finish, passing laws for harsher sentences, for-profit prisons, for-profit parole/halfway houses and the prison labor industry. ALEC’s dream IMO is the corporatists and the small slice of free workers to service them and their interests on the outside and the rest of humanity in its prison/worker complex.

  18. The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor
    Years after ALEC’s Truth In Sentencing bills became the law of the land, its Prison Industries Act has quietly expanded prison labor across the country.
    By Mike Elk and Bob Sloan
    http://www.thenation.com/article/162478/hidden-history-alec-and-prison-labor#

    Excerpt:
    The breaded chicken patty your child bites into at school may have been made by a worker earning twenty cents an hour, not in a faraway country, but by a member of an invisible American workforce: prisoners. At the Union Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Florida, inmates from a nearby lower-security prison manufacture tons of processed beef, chicken and pork for Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE), a privately held non-profit corporation that operates the state’s forty-one work programs. In addition to processed food, PRIDE’s website reveals an array of products for sale through contracts with private companies, from eyeglasses to office furniture, to be shipped from a distribution center in Florida to businesses across the US. PRIDE boasts that its work programs are “designed to provide vocational training, to improve prison security, to reduce the cost of state government, and to promote the rehabilitation of the state inmates.”

    Although a wide variety of goods have long been produced by state and federal prisoners for the US government—license plates are the classic example, with more recent contracts including everything from guided missile parts to the solar panels powering government buildings—prison labor for the private sector was legally barred for years, to avoid unfair competition with private companies. But this has changed thanks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), its Prison Industries Act, and a little-known federal program known as PIE (the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program). While much has been written about prison labor in the past several years, these forces, which have driven its expansion, remain largely unknown.

    Somewhat more familiar is ALEC’s instrumental role in the explosion of the US prison population in the past few decades. ALEC helped pioneer some of the toughest sentencing laws on the books today, like mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders, “three strikes” laws, and “truth in sentencing” laws. In 1995 alone, ALEC’s Truth in Sentencing Act was signed into law in twenty-five states. (Then State Rep. Scott Walker was an ALEC member when he sponsored Wisconsin’s truth-in-sentencing laws and, according to PR Watch, used its statistics to make the case for the law.) More recently, ALEC has proposed innovative “solutions” to the overcrowding it helped create, such as privatizing the parole process through “the proven success of the private bail bond industry,” as it recommended in 2007. (The American Bail Coalition is an executive member of ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force.) ALEC has also worked to pass state laws to create private for-profit prisons, a boon to two of its major corporate sponsors: Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections), the largest private prison firms in the country. An In These Times investigation last summer revealed that ALEC arranged secret meetings between Arizona’s state legislators and CCA to draft what became SB 1070, Arizona’s notorious immigration law, to keep CCA prisons flush with immigrant detainees. ALEC has proven expertly capable of devising endless ways to help private corporations benefit from the country’s massive prison population.

    That mass incarceration would create a huge captive workforce was anticipated long before the US prison population reached its peak—and at a time when the concept of “rehabilitation” was still considered part of the mission of prisons. First created by Congress in 1979, the PIE program was designed “to encourage states and units of local government to establish employment opportunities for prisoners that approximate private sector work opportunities,” according to PRIDE’s website. The benefits to big corporations were clear—a “readily available workforce” for the private sector and “a cost-effective way to occupy a portion of the ever-growing offender/inmate population” for prison officials—yet from its founding until the mid-1990s, few states participated in the program.

    This started to change in 1993, when Texas State Representative and ALEC member Ray Allen crafted the Texas Prison Industries Act, which aimed to expand the PIE program. After it passed in Texas, Allen advocated that it be duplicated across the country. In 1995, ALEC’s Prison Industries Act was born.

  19. Yes, Conservative Corporations and Liberal Corporations suck the tit of taxpayers. You need to cut back the taxes if you want this to stop. Koch Brothers, Solyndra, it is all crony capitalism.

  20. ET,

    Interesting way of looking at the problem.

    Tony,

    There are some instances where vengeance is a component of justice. For example, violent crimes. In those cases, prison (or the death penalty) are socially implemented forms of vengeance meant to substitute for any innate desire for vengeance that would spur self-help remedy from victims or their families. True, vengeance doesn’t have to be a component of justice, but that doesn’t change that it sometimes is.

  21. Gene: Well, I wouldn’t argue that much. But even the death penalty doesn’t have to be “vengeance,” to me it could be a probability judgment that keeping some killer alive just poses too much risk to other living people, even if it were only other prisoners or guards. So even that does not have to be vengeance, just a realistic assessment of total harm in two possible futures; e.g. one with a psychopath alive and one with that psychopath dead.

    We all die sooner or later, and I think for some, better sooner than later. that is probably an attitude informed by both my atheism and my empathy for the strangers destined to be future victims. What I regard just as precious as “life” is the potential for a life to experience happiness and produce it in others, to love and be loved, to create and contribute. Once it seems clear a person’s future life will produce a net negative on that balance sheet by harming others, we are better off with them dead.

  22. A corollary to the privatization of prisons is the privatization of services to inmates.

    In the past families and friends could send funds to the account of inmates for little more than the cost of a money order and a stamp. Now many jurisdictions use something called Jpay or similar service. Jpay requires the sender to set up an account and pay a fee for processing. The fee is said to be reasonable – but try finding the fee on their web site.

    BTW, Jpay claims outstanding service. But internet messages suggest a bad reputation for late pay and no pay.

    Phone services have also been privatized in many institutions. In the past many inmates could make a call to approved friends or relatives at rates that approximated the cost of a collect call. Now many institutions use services that require that an account be set up, and funded with a deposit. The calls are then charged to the deposit, by the minute at rates far beyond typical tariffs for similar calls.

    The claim is that these services save money. The fact is that the costs for these services are transferred from the state to inmates – with huge increased that, in effect, make the inmates profit centers for private industry.

  23. This stems from the limited govt and the push to privatize public services. I agree with Tony; there are some things that only govt should do.

    ET makes an interesting point about the use of for-profit prisons getting around the 14th Amendment and govt liability. Could a police dept or district attorney get a round the 4th Am by hiring a private detective to install a GPS unit on a car or search a home?

  24. Death penalty opponents stick their heads in the sand when it comes to people in prison without the possibility of parole, and no death penalty. They can be killing machines with solitary being the only consequences.

  25. “Now many jurisdictions use something called Jpay or similar service.”

    BFM,

    Thank you for the info, though it is nauseating to contemplate the injustice.

  26. Elaine, Thank you for the link, I forgot it- I am preoccupied with computer problems, this is the third time I tried to log on to the internet and second time to log on to the Blawg- WP kept asking me to re-sign in, is it me or is WP acting up too. My computer is possessed.

    Re bigfatmike, last I read the charge was $1.00 a minute which is a total rip-off. Also services such as medical care is a contract service and that hasn’t gone very well:

    http://www.npr.org/2011/06/08/137055836/the-root-inmate-health-care-another-kind-of-prison

  27. Excellent piece, Mike.

    One knows a country by how it treats those it regards as “criminals.” In America, torture said to all law enforcement that thereafter, anything only slightly less awful than waterboarding is now ready for rapid deployment by jizzed-up men in battle armor 3d-printed from video game specs (they were playing Call of Duty just that afternoon). Those same men get employed at “correctional” facilities when they fail the grunt test to be an actual cop.

    You. Will. Feel. Safer. Or. Else.

  28. Follow the money! Whenever any politician wants to privatize anything…from Social Security to prisons, the underlying reason is Money. Great links Elaine.

  29. Great discussions this day, thoughtful.

    The purpose of politics doesn’t have to be vengeance either!
    ****

    This is who we are. It makes me angry and sick to my stomach! We’re hateful people. Those who don’t go along are slimed! Remember the awful Sixties when the young people wanted to “make the world a better place?” Those stoned wankers! Then, aha, this was a commodity that could be capitalized on…and has it ever… The accounts are rife with clever entrepreneurs! Then world enterprises!

    I live in Florida, and learned more today about the system than I knew. Although I am aware of the “hang ’em high” attitude here. I also know that the justice system is supported by the “people.”

    We become aware when someone dies from “punishment.” But, death is a daily occurrence! There is at least one killing a day here in Palm Beach County. So, something’s not working! And people are innured to the condition. Other than the caretakers grooving on the power of authority, not much is being accomplished from this system! They are proponents of Scared Straight, and I guarantee the voters agree!

  30. Tony,

    That is indeed one of the social aspects of justice, but I think that analysis is rooted in the perspective of third party observer, not that of a first or second party victim. To those parties in a violent crime, I can assure you that the ones who do not factor vengeance into their thinking are the exception and not the rule. You sometimes see it, but it is rare when a victim steps to bar and asks for leniency in violent crime scenarios. It’s simply human nature. That very drive for revenge – which can be grossly disproportionate to the crime – is part and parcel of the necessary basis of criminal law and using a non-party arbiter instead of self-help and the anarchy that invites. The revenge element of justice when present is geared toward creating order.

  31. “They are proponents of Scared Straight, and I guarantee the voters agree!”

    Patsylvania,

    As a Florida resident myself I agree. Scared Straight is the type of program that sounds good on the surface but is bound for failure. However, the surface is what people buy and seem to vote for.

  32. Mike,

    Excellent presentation that all can easily understand and discuss.

    Although I was aware of for-profit prisons using slave labor from different discussions Elaine has introduced, I was not nearly as informed on the situation involving for-profit prisons for youth as I should have been.

    Needless to say, I will be writing my State representatives to inquire as to the practice here, in Ohio, and then, depending on their answers, moving forward in an appropriate manner. This is a matter that can be strongly influenced by active local participation.

  33. Gene: Two of my siblings have been murdered, in separate incidents, I understand at a pretty visceral level the desire for revenge; that rage burns and I feel it still.

    However, in my post I am writing from the view of designing a system. If victims wish to see punishment as vengeance, let them, they may find some small measure of comfort in that (as I do). In terms of design, I am not opposed to a life for a life, that sounds reasonable to me, and in the extremes (death, permanent disability, the rape of a child) I think fair justice and vengeance can become nearly synonymous.

    I see far less of a role for vengeance in property crimes or robbery or simple assault, where the harm is limited. I think vengeance in such circumstances can be overdone and non-proportional and just sadistic cruelty, like responding to a bully’s push by permanently blinding him, or putting him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. A month in a cell might make the bully think twice about pushing somebody, we don’t have to ruin his life or turn him into a career criminal.

  34. I am for capital punishment if, and only if, execution is by hanging at high noon Saturday in the middle of the town square or closest thing thereto in the city where the court entered the judgment of death.

  35. Tony,

    “I see far less of a role for vengeance in property crimes or robbery or simple assault, where the harm is limited. I think vengeance in such circumstances can be overdone and non-proportional and just sadistic cruelty”

    I agree with this and that is why I’m against such things (in general, there are some exceptions) to mandatory minimum sentences (which I think should only be applied when a public trust has been abused) or three strikes laws and draconian sentencing for stuff like marijuana possession which is purely a malum prohibitum matter to begin with (and one that should actually be addressed for what it is – a health issue – instead of a crime). Many columns have been written here about the increasing criminalization of everyday life. Those factor in as well. These kinds of compounding injustices, however, are simply a symptom of the underlying problem: the rise of a fascist police state. Our criminal justice system as a whole has a lot of room for improvement. Not looking to maximize prison populations for private profit by making disproportionate punishments is a place to start. The fact that “the land of the free” leads the world in per capita incarceration rates and that this statistic is being driven by for profit private prisons is a fascist outrage of the worst sort and the kind of thing our Founders would have likely gone to arms over.

  36. With respect to white collar crimes, I think the guilty should be barred from owning any property except for a de minimis amount of personal property and all wages confiscated as restitution; in the meantime, they live on SNAP and medicaid in public housing until restitution is complete.

  37. Tony C.,
    I am sorry for your family’s losses.
    However, I for one, am not a proponent of capital punishment. I do not see it as a benefit to society or protecting society in any way. I do understand the vengeance issues that Tony C. and Gene have been discussing and if one of my family members had been murdered, I probably would call for blood also. Hopefully, calmer heads would prevail.

  38. Blouise: “Although I was aware of for-profit prisons using slave labor from different discussions Elaine has introduced, I was not nearly as”
    *

    I found the below article interesting because the work programs for prison industries are touted as training among other things. In the article below does not state that time-off sentence credits can be forfeited for refusing work or training or education connected with private or prison industries I’m sure that that happens. Slavery is an apt characterization.

    “AZ Dept. of Corrections Wants 1,500 MORE Private Prison Beds”

    “Under Arizona’s ‘truth in sentencing’ law, prisoners may receive “earned release credits,” allowing them to be released after they have served 85% of their sentence. The Department of Corrections (DOC) has the sole discretion in the award of these credits, and there are many exemptions and opportunities for credits to be withheld. ….

    The policy also allows for forfeiture of credits for inmates who fail to “demonstrate a continual willingness to volunteer for or successfully participate in work, education, treatment, or training programs.” This is a highly subjective assessment, often made by guards at the unit level.”

    http://tucsoncitizen.com/cell-out-arizona/2013/10/03/az-dept-of-corrections-wants-1500-more-private-prison-beds/
    *

    Arizona’s prisons are a hungry beast (11% of state budget) and Jan Brewer is happy to feed it no matter who she had to take the money from:

    “More max-security prison beds makes no sense”

    “The $50 million for construction of these 500 beds was originally taken from federal funds designated for victims of the mortgage crisis. Now the governor is asking for $4.5 million more in order to cover operational and staffing costs.”

    http://www.azcentral.com/opinions/articles/20130314max-security-prison-beds-sense.html

  39. I have no problem w/ most govt. services being privatized. However, prisons are not one of them. We judge our society by how we treat our prisoners is what Churchill said. Make no mistake about it, if you have not worked in a maximum security prison you have NO IDEA what these men are like, and how difficult it is to treat them w/ dignity, no freakin’ idea. And, that is why the employees must be govt. employees and held accountable by the govt.

  40. nick spinelli 1, October 26, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I have no problem w/ most govt. services being privatized. However, prisons are not one of them. We judge our society by how we treat our prisoners is what Churchill said.

    ===========================
    Churchill was in favor of most of our current modern feudalistic practices.

    Most of the reason for that was based on his fear of The Battle of Armageddon, but I was wondering if you believe as strongly in that battle as he did?

  41. Dredd, I throw out Churchill quotes just for you. He was, like us all, flawed. But he did stand alone against Hitler and is a big reason you’re not speaking German. So, there’s that.

  42. nick spinelli 1, October 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Dredd, I throw out Churchill quotes just for you. He was, like us all, flawed. But he did stand alone against Hitler and is a big reason you’re not speaking German. So, there’s that.
    =======================
    So, Churchill was in favor of feudalism?

    Germany today is doing quite well even though it is speaking German.

    Of all nations of the world, they were number one in exports until just recently when China took over first place.

    They are now second, and the U.S. is third.

    Hitler quotes are heavily used in the U.S. within the domain of the right wing because they do not know much about German or American History.

    You evaded the question.

  43. @Nick Spinelli “I have no problem w/ most govt. services being privatized.”

    The promise of privatization was that competition would lead to similar quality of services at lower costs.

    That seems to be rarely the case.

    What we see now is frequently a mockery of the arguments used to justify privatization

    Why would anyone support privatization unless there were clearly documented advantages such as improved service or lower cost.

  44. BFM, How about doing away w/ the postal system and have FedEx, UPS, do it. Hopefully Elaine doesn’t read this, she loves the USPS and her letter carrier.

  45. ” How about doing away w/ the postal system and have FedEx, UPS, do it.”

    Even if you suppose the USPS is not recovering the full cost for delivering an ounce of mail – say the cost of a .43 stamp out to be say $1.50 – do you suppose FedEx or UPS could match the post office in cost?

    And if they could match the USPS in major cities, do you suppose they could make their system work for every address in the entire US?

    I think FedEx and UPS have great products. I am just not sure those products match and compete against what the USPS does.

    And yes, I do think it is a great advantage to have an inexpensive way that everyone in the county can communicate.

    As a practical matter broadband and the internet may fill much of what the USPS does in the sense of low cost, reliable communication, easily available to everyone.

    But I am not ready to throw out the USPS yet, and maybe not ever.

    To get back to your original question, the day FedEx or UPS can deliver an ounce to any address in the country, in 3 to 5 days, for under a buck then I will give them serious consideration to deliver my letters.

    And I can tell you priority mail is a pretty good product too, even though it does not match the faster delivery of FedEx and UPS.

    My experience is that USPS is a cost effective solution if you do not require next day or second day service. And that would be true even if USPS increased it rates substantially.

  46. BFM, Since the USPS was ostensibly set up as a stand alone entity back in the 80’s they have run huge deficits annually. Last year $16 billion!

    I used Priority Mail flat rate envelopes to mail my VHS surveillance videos to clients. Their service was fair to poor. After a few clients complaining, I went to UPS, and FedEx. NEVER got a complaint. If I went regular UPS, it was cheaper, usually ~.25. FedEx overnight was obviously more, about double.

  47. @Nick Spinelli “Since the USPS was ostensibly set up as a stand alone entity back in the 80′s they have run huge deficits annually. Last year $16 billion! ”

    I think you have made some interesting points. But I would argue they are a starting point for discussion not conclusions.

    I am not sure what is in the 16 billion number. As I indicated, my guess is the PO is underpricing their product. But as I understand it, unlike real businesses, USPS cannot just raise prices according to business judgment, estimates related to elasticity of demand, or competitive situation.

    And if you believe the adds of the postal union the USPS has to maintain and fund pensions at levels few other businesses match.

    That fact opens up a complex subject. Maybe all business should have to fund pension programs at much higher levels. But the fact that many businesses do not means that it is difficult to make a reasonable comparison of USPS results with other businesses.

    As a result, without a careful review I would argue that it is impossible to judge what part of that 16 billion is do to inefficiency and what part is due to required underpricing of their product and the inclusion of costs that other businesses simply do not include on their books.

    As for service, I have never had a problem with priority mail. But my use was never time critical in the way that a security tape might be.

    Do FedEx and UPS get it their faster – sure. But is that better for every customer – I am not so sure.

    I think the cost effectiveness of USPS is a difficult, complex question that has no direct comparison with FedEx or UPS.

    I don’t see that USPS has a product that competes directly with FedEx or USPS. And I don’t think FedEx and UPS have a product that competes with USPS. They are really satisfying different markets or different parts of the market and that is a good thing.

    People like you don’t want the USPS level of service at any price. And people like me are glad to get USPS priority service at a fraction of UPS or FedEx cost. That is the way the economy is suppose to operate.

    The fact that the USPS is doing a lot of things right is demonstrated by the fact that UPS and other rapid services now have inexpensive service levels that let them perform the front end of pick up and transport to a local post office and then let the UPPS handle local delivery.

    That 16 billion number is troubling. But without a careful detailed analysis there is no way to tell if USPS is doing better, worse or about the same as FedEx and UPS.

  48. The USPS existed before this country was founded. The framers of the Constitution felt it was a function of government. It provides inexpensive postal services and has never failed me, whereas I have had problems with UPS and FedEx. The mythology regarding businesses is that they are efficient. Some are and many are not. With some businesses like Microsoft there is tremendous incompetence, compensated for by great marketing that uses it’s hold on the terrible Windows OS to bludgeon manufacturers. Large businesses are by definition bureaucracies and there is no proof that private bureaucracies are any better than public bureaucracies. However, billion$, if not trillion$ have been spent in clever propaganda and to buy politicians. Hence the myth of the efficiencies of the business model.

  49. BFM, The problem w/ Priority Mail was inconsistency. UPS and FedEx are very consistent. I had a biz to run and you keep your clients happy or you go out of biz, a micro example of the macro USPS problem. That’s why companies like Amazon use them. You’ll hear people who love the postal service, probably a union thing, and think the private carriers are bad, but that’s just chattering and political posturing. You have an open mind on this which makes for a good discussion.

    Your point about the private carriers not directly competing on product/services is true for the most part. But, the reason is the market has spoken. 30 years ago they did compete, and the privates kicked USPS ass. As we discussed, email, texting, cell phones have hurt them. Electronic bill paying is really hurting them. The only thing that was keeping them alive was Netflix, junk mail, and political junk. Magazine biz is dying and Netflix is streaming. Their time has come and gone. Hell, I’m a dude. I hate throwing away shirts w/ holes in them. But, we adapt or perish. The USPS got competition and they got their asses kicked. The market spoke, loudly and clearly.

  50. bfm,

    You’ll find some information about why the USPS has a financial problem:

    Going Postal in Washington, D. C.: The USPS, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, Union Busting, and Paving the Road to Privatization
    http://jonathanturley.org/2012/05/06/going-postal-in-washington-d-c-the-usps-the-postal-accountability-and-enhancement-act-of-2006-union-busting-and-paving-the-road-to-privatization/

    Excerpt;
    Yes, the USPS is experiencing serious financial problems. I’ve heard on the news and read in the papers that drastic measures must be undertaken in order to save this great American institution. I think that it’s important to understand the causes of those problems and to know what could happen to the US Postal Service unless Congress solves them without severely impacting the institution and the services it provides to Americans.

    Josh Eidelson’s Salon article Congress’s war on the post office: The Postal Service faces a threat greater than email or economics: Politics (March 14, 2012) helps provide some information on the issue:

    The U.S. Postal Service is at risk of defaulting on healthcare obligations or exceeding its debt limit by the end of the year. Last month, USPS management unveiled a “Path to Profitability” that would eliminate over a hundred thousand jobs, end Saturday service and loosen overnight delivery guarantees. The Postal Service also proposes to shutter thousands of post offices. “Under the existing laws, the overall financial situation for the Postal Service is poor,” says CFO Joe Corbett. Republicans have been more dire, and none more so than Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, who warned of a “crisis that is bringing USPS to the brink of collapse.”

    Listening to Issa, you’d never know that the post office’s immediate crisis is largely of Congress’s own making. Conservatives aren’t wrong to say that the shift toward electronic mail – what USPS calls “e-diversion” – poses a challenge for the Postal Service’s business model. (The recent drop-off in mail is also a consequence of the recession-induced drop in advertising.)

    But even so, in the first quarter of this fiscal year, the post office would have made an operational profit, if not for a 75-year healthcare “pre-funding” mandate that applies to no other public or private institution in the United States.

    Warren Gunnels, aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders, calls that mandate “the poison pill that has hammered the Postal Service … over 80 percent of the Postal Service deficit since that was enacted was entirely due to the pre-funding requirement.”

    This death hug was part of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which was passed on a voice vote by a lame duck Republican Congress in 2006…

    As reported by CNN, the USPS has claimed that a number of its difficulties were caused BY the federal government “– through a law governing how the agency funds workers’ retirement health benefits.” It has also been reported that prior to 2007—when the mandated prefunding of healthcare benefits began—the Postal Service actually generated a small profit.

    The act/law referred to above required that the USPS prefund retiree healthcare benefits for workers for the next 75 years…in just ten years (2007-2016). That means the USPS has to continue to cough up $5.5 billion annually to meet the funding mandate for another five years. No other government entity or agency has been required to do the same by Congress. Why has the Postal Service—an institution that provides valuable services to businesses and to millions of Americans—been singled out?

  51. You beat me to it, Elaine. :D

    And who was behind the push to force the USPS into that ridiculous and singular position in the first place? Lobbyists for private carriers like UPS and FedEx. And what possible motive could they have for wanting to destroy the USPS? Hmmmmmm . . .

  52. Gene,

    GOP’s newest target: The postal service
    The government itself wasn’t enough. Now, led by Darrell Issa, the right wants to go after your mail delivery
    By Josh Eidelson
    http://www.salon.com/2013/10/02/gops_next_victim_the_postal_service/

    Excerpt:
    As Monday night turned to Tuesday, the United States Postal Service defaulted on a legally required $5.6 billion payment toward health benefits for retired employees. The failure to make that payment is sure to be cited by those calling for more sacrifice from postal customers and workers – from USPS management to members of Congress.

    But make no mistake: Congress, particularly Republicans, is mostly to blame for the problem.

    That’s because the Postal Service – unlike any other public or private institution in the United States of America – is bound to pre-fund 75 years of healthcare benefits over a decade. As I’ve reported, that unique requirement – passed on a voice vote, with bipartisan support, in the final days of GOP control of Congress in 2006 – accounts for most of the Post Office’s deficit ever since. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testified this month in Congress that the pre-funding made up $32 billion of USPS’ $41 billion net loss since the requirement went into effect. For perspective on that remaining $9 billion, consider that a 2011 study from Accenture, commissioned by USPS, estimated that by diversifying its services as other countries’ mail agencies have, the Postal Service could’ve brought in an additional $74 billion from 2003 to 2008.

    But the same 2006 law that saddled USPS with the pre-funding requirement also restricted its ability to offer “non-postal services,” as well as its ability to raise the cost of stamps. And so all sides in the long-running, under-the-radar debate over the future of the post office agree that any resolution will require an act of Congress.

    “Let’s be clear,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told Salon in a Monday email. “During the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, the Postal Service has been profitable delivering mail and packages to every household and business in America.” Sanders added that the “sole reason” for this year’s deficit was the “unprecedented and onerous mandate” on pre-funding “insisted upon by George W. Bush.”

    The White House, USPS and Rep. Darrell Issa — in many ways the leader of this effort — did not respond to Monday inquiries.

    Right now, the action in the Senate centers around a bipartisan bill from Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that, while allowing USPS greater freedom to diversify services and raise rates, would also let management reduce delivery and further cut labor costs including workers’ compensation claims. That echoes several of the proposals of Postmaster General Donahoe. Sen. Carper told a Sept. 19 hearing that USPS “needs to be granted the authority from Congress to make decisions similar to those that our auto companies made in recent years in right-sizing that industry and enabling it to succeed despite the challenges it faces in the 21st century marketplace.”

    These wouldn’t be the first big cuts: The postmaster noted in his own testimony that already, “The Postal Service’s current career workforce of 492,000 is the smallest it has been in decades and is down nearly 26 percent in the past five years.” Donahoe told Congress that USPS faced an “ongoing decline” due to “migration toward electronic communication and transactional alternatives.” In an interview with Salon last year, USPS CFO Joe Corbett defended USPS’ approach on the grounds that “any financial enterprise would do it.”

    Postal unions counter that service cuts will only damage USPS’ viability, and that cutting compensation after union members already negotiated major concessions is unnecessary and unjust. In a Monday email to Salon, National Rural Letter Carriers Association president Jeanette Dwyer warned against “drastic measures that will only harm this great institution, the Americans who rely upon it, and the employees who serve it with determination, integrity, and pride.” American Postal Workers Union executive vice president Greg Bell told Salon that the Carper-Coburn bill represented “part of the agenda toward privatization,” both by driving customers away to private companies and by deepening the Postal Service’s long-term crisis. “From our perspective,” said Bell, “that is what this is all about.”

    A USPS plan to end Saturday mail delivery, a concept backed by the White House, was temporarily blocked by Congress earlier this year.

  53. The pension pre-funding requirement is what is called a “poison pill” and was slipped to the USPS specifically to kill it so it could be entirely privatized or done away with. The USPS is not required to make a profit, it is required to break even.

    Funny how the losses mirror the cost of the pre-funding mandate.

    From Wikipedia:
    “Congressional role
    Of related significance is the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA), which obligates the USPS to fund the present value of future health care benefit payments to retirees within a ten-year time span – a requirement to which no other government organization is subject. Thus, in addition to the weak economy and the diversion of mail to electronic means, the mandates of PAEA have had a considerable impact on Postal Service finances. In 2012, the USPS had its third straight year of losses from operations, which amounted to $4.8 billion.”

  54. @Nck Spinelli “Their time has come and gone.”

    I think you may be right that technology is superseding the USPS. But for a while they do satisfy the needs of people who need to send an envelope at a reasonable price.

    And you raise an interesting question: what level of activity is required to support the operations the USPS at a reasonable price?

    @Elaine M. “You’ll find some information about why the USPS has a financial problem”

    Thank you Elaine. It will take me a minute to work through your article with the attention it deserves.

    Nevertheless, I think much of what you write confirms my guess that the USPS has to meet special costs that make a direct comparison with other businesses impossible. There is no simple way to determine if the USPS is doing good, bad or about the same as other businesses.

    All this special attention given to the USPS raises a couple of questions: what level of funding should business and government have to put away now in order to meet future obligations? And if it is so vital that the USPS fund its future obligations at this level then why not legislate to require all businesses to do the same?

    And finally, as you have already mentioned, why all the special attention for the USPS – is it just concern USPS retirees decades from now?

  55. “That 16 billion number is troubling. But without a careful detailed analysis there is no way to tell if USPS is doing better, worse or about the same as FedEx and UPS.”

    BFM,

    It’s all due to the overfunding of the pension plan which was put in by conservatives to try to destroy it. I would bet that many of those who worked at the overfunding were receiving campaign contributions from FedEx and UPS.

  56. Gene H. 1, October 26, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    You beat me to it, Elaine. :D

    And who was behind the push to force the USPS into that ridiculous and singular position in the first place? Lobbyists for private carriers like UPS and FedEx. And what possible motive could they have for wanting to destroy the USPS? Hmmmmmm . . .
    =================================
    Holy conspiracy theory … one only a mother could love.

  57. BFM, I told you the chattering would come. I’ve said my piece unless you have any questions or thoughts. It’s refreshing to find someone w/ an open mind here.

  58. Thanks Elaine. Mike, the Wikipedia article said the USPS made a small profit for the last year before the pre-funding mandate. How well it does without a millstone attached in relation to private enterprises may not be a valid measuring device.

    USPS has a different mandate that the large carriers it competes with:

    Wikipedia:
    “The mission of the Postal Service is to provide the American public with trusted universal postal service at affordable prices. While not explicitly defined, the Postal Service’s universal service obligation (USO) is broadly outlined in statute and includes multiple dimensions: geographic scope, range of products, access to services and facilities, delivery frequency, affordable and uniform pricing, service quality, and security of the mail. While other carriers may claim to voluntarily provide delivery on a broad basis, the Postal Service is the only carrier with a legal obligation to provide all the various aspects of universal service at affordable rates.

    Also, USPS is not in a position to make business decisions in a vacuum as private industry is. Congress refused to allow the USPS to suspend most types of mail delivery on Saturday, something that was supposed to save the USPS 1.9 billion a year, Congress said “No” though some limited service would remain for prescription medicine delivery and other special categories of mail.

  59. bfm & Gene,

    From OpenSecrets.org:

    FedEx Corp
    Heavy Hitter
    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=d000000089

    FedEx Corp is the world’s top express delivery service, thanks in large part to its close relationship with members of Congress and the White House. For years, the company has been a major campaign contributor to both Democrats and Republicans and is famous for its unique lobbying tactics, including the fleet of private planes that it keeps on stand-by for lawmakers who need to jet off at a moment’s notice.

    In exchange, the company has gotten unparalleled access to debates over international trade, tax cuts and rules that govern the business practices of its one-time competitor, the United States Postal Service. In 2001, FedEx cemented a groundbreaking deal with the USPS to deliver all of the post office’s overnight packages and express deliveries. In turn, FedEx was allowed to put its drop boxes in post offices around the country.

  60. @lottakatz “USPS has a different mandate that the large carriers it competes with:… delivery frequency, affordable and uniform pricing, ”

    Thanks for the notes. This brings up a different aspect. Not only does the USPS have a different, and in some since artificial, cost structure, but their mission and ability to adjust prices is limited as well.

    In many ways comparison of USPS with private or publicly held corporations are misleading or nonsensical.

    As an example, the difference between USPS and, UPS and FedEx prices would suggest that USPS has a bit of a window to raise prices before revenues begin to decline due to lost business.

    Even a small increase in price applied to USPS volume ought to make a dent in the 16 billion dollar deficit. But USPS can’t do that – at least not in a timely manner determined by management – as can other businesses.

  61. Nick, it is a pleasure.

    You and I don’t always agree. But that does not bother me at all. I already know what I think. Why would I spend time on a web page where everyone thinks as I do.

  62. BFM, Bravo. You stated something very important to Mr. Turley and other of folks. He made a rare statement this week saying he does not want this forum to become an echo chamber. There are people who want just that.

    I reread your comment. Regarding the pensions. When you sell this USPS business to the private concerns one of the stipulations would be they clean up that mess. They fund it, give severance packages or jobs to those who want them.

  63. lotta, Actually she called me a “prick” and she apologized. There was no need really. I can handle stuff like that. And, I can handle you calling me a dick. However, do I get any credit for being right?

  64. BFM, Yeah, trying to run an agency like a business, or a business like an agency has built-in opportunities for failure. It helps if the people that ultimately control your business decisions are on your side, or at least not working against your interests. If you have a business model that is break-even and make a little profit if you can, to be told ‘and come up with half a trillion dollars in the next 10 years’ is a prescription for disaster.

  65. BFM.,Private firefighting, particularly our west w/ forest fires, has been growing since the early 90’s. Most are pleased w/ the performance. There are good and bad ones, but they come in on budget or another company is contracted who will. It’s called completion, the cornerstone of capitalism. I predict some links w/ the poor performance stories. I’m Carnac, the Prick, tonight.

  66. Gene H. 1, October 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Conspiracy theories don’t…
    ———–
    Gene H. 1, October 26, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    And FedEx and UPS engage in …
    ===========================
    I concede that all conspiracy theories and theorists have a theory of the case.

    Still, “conspiracy theory” is a holy word, you know, magic word –which “both sides” quote and use because “conspiracy theory” has two relevant meanings … by design.

  67. nick spinelli 1, October 26, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    “competition” not completion. Completion would be the cornerstone of a good quarterback.
    ==================
    So would competition.

    Are you arguing again nick?

  68. “Still, ‘conspiracy theory’ is a holy word, you know, magic word”

    Actually it’s a value loaded phrase. None of which changes that the history behind HR 6407 (which created the pension funding problem for the USPS) shows it was backed by guys affiliated with the Kochs and ALEC working for the benefit of UPS and FedEx.

  69. Gene H. 1, October 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    “Still, ‘conspiracy theory’ is a holy word, you know, magic word”

    Actually it’s a value loaded phrase. None of which changes that the history behind HR 6407 (which created the pension funding problem for the USPS) shows it was backed by guys affiliated with the Kochs and ALEC working for the benefit of UPS and FedEx.
    =======================
    I am cool with UPS, FedEx, and ALEC truthers.

  70. nick spinelli 1, October 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Dredd, Lol! I had a few adult beverages w/ dinner. But, I don’t drink like your buddy, Churchill.
    =======================
    Yeah that.

    And like your buddy, LBJ.

  71. Gene, It’s only a theory as long as there is no evidence of a conspiracy. I don’t think anyone said the planned destruction of USPS was a conspiracy theory but I do believe we have a conspiracy to do just that. :-) Is there a legal difference between a conspiracy and collusion in some plan or act?

  72. LK,

    Legally speaking as a matter of definitions, a conspiracy is always geared toward some illegal end (and usually requires actions taken in furtherance thereof), but collusion may or may not be geared to an illegal end although it usually refers to when two or more persons work together to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of legal rights. While defrauding someone would be a prime facie crime, simple deceit or misleading may not be.

  73. LBJ let his hair grow long and just hung out on his ranch after he retired. He liked to drive around in his convertible drinking beer. When the can was empty he would just toss it in the air. No coincidence Lady Bird was the person who spearheaded cleaning up our highways and getting rid of billboards. Dredd, I don’t know how old you are, but I’m 60. When I was a kid, before the clean your highways campaign and littering fines, you would just throw your trash out the car window. I’m not talking just hillbillies. Jeff Goldblum grew up in Pittsburgh, his old man was an MD I believe. He did a hilarious riff on Letterman talking about that. Getting all the trash from a McDonalds and just throwing it out the window after eating in the car driving down the road. Not all the good ol’ days were so good.

  74. Blouise, It didn’t take long for the situation to deteriorate, I followed a link in that story to another article and did so again and came to this:

    “State continues to ponder Conneaut prison training facility

    “…. In early summer, city leaders learned of Cantagallo’s plan to construct a building on nearly nine acres of land he owns along East Main Road (Route 20) and Thompson Road. The property sits a short distance south of the prison. The building would be home to satellite operations of local industries and would provide training and employment for qualified inmates.

    Cantagallo outlined his proposal to ODRC officials, particularly members of the department’s Enterprise Development Advisory Board, in Columbus last month. The initial reaction was encouraging, he said Friday.

    “Questions were asked and people responded,” he said. “My take-away is that (the plan) was well-received.”

    The job training center could operate under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Prison Industry Enhancement program. If so, it would be the first PIE program in Ohio. To qualify, however, the center must meet certain criteria, including provisions related to inmate payment and private sector involvement. Also, jobs at the center cannot displace people employed prior to its start-up.

    When at full capacity, the center could employ upwards of 150 people, including civilian supervisors, Cantagallo said this summer. A portion of the inmates’ wages would be withheld for taxes and contributions to victim compensation programs. LaECI administrators have said their prison probably doesn’t have enough eligible inmates to fill the program, but others could be shipped in from other Ohio facilities.”

    http://starbeacon.com/local/x862192724/State-continues-to-ponder-Conneaut-prison-training-facility

  75. “BFM, Bravo. You stated something very important to Mr. Turley and other of folks. He made a rare statement this week saying he does not want this forum to become an echo chamber. There are people who want just that.”

    Yes Nick and he also wrote to you privately and you responded apologizing for your behavior and promising you would cease it. Now here you are patronizing BFM and criticizing those here who disagree with you as the chattering classes. So much for Nick’s promises.

    Back to the patronization though. BFM has commented here for a god long time. He has displayed much intelligence and an inquiring mind. I’ve read all the responses to him and I can’t see where anyone has tried to make him conform. They’ve presented their information and he presented his. Frankly I don’t think there was even much of a difference of opinion. You see if someone actually reads this with comprehension that even an English teacher should have:

    “In many ways comparison of USPS with private or publicly held corporations are misleading or nonsensical.

    As an example, the difference between USPS and, UPS and FedEx prices would suggest that USPS has a bit of a window to raise prices before revenues begin to decline due to lost business.

    Even a small increase in price applied to USPS volume ought to make a dent in the 16 billion dollar deficit. But USPS can’t do that – at least not in a timely manner determined by management – as can other businesses.”

    Now why would I disagree with that because I’ve been making the same point?
    The comparison of UPS and FedEx with the USPS is a specious one and that was the thrust of my point in the first place. Yet who was it that made that comparison? One of the “chattering classes” or Nick? We all can see the answer.

    One of Nick’s many problems, especially with the truth, is that he see anyone who disagrees with his point of view (even mildly) as an enemy. Beyond enemy though those that disagree with him are being unfair because they are trying to impose “THEIR” point of view on him. To Nick, it seems that discussion is a one way street. He talks, you listen.

    However, besides the deceit, besides the “enemies” made for disagreeing with him, Nick has another less than pleasing aspect. He likes to sow dissension. Not the kind of disagreements to be had in good debate with people reasonably disagreeing with other opinions and presenting their logical reasons for doing so.. No Nick lacks the skills to succeed in that kind of debate since his eyes are blinded by the log of his inability to believe that anyone can’t see his brilliance. Lacking those skills Nick works on trying to arouse anger, to “bust balls” as he puts it.

    Now of course when Jonathan contacted him Nick was walking on air thinking that he had triumphed and his travails here had finally brought him victory over those nasty Guest Bloggers who are trying to enforce unanimity of thought. The problem is, as with most of Nick’s theories it was pulled out of his ass like smoke and quickly the effluvia evaporates. Nick you made a promise that your not living up to. Your word is not as good as your bond, so explain to me again why I should hold back from critiquing you. Especially since you keep tweeting Professor Turley begging for help. I thought you were supposed to be a tough guy Nick? Tough guys fight their own battles and most assuredly don’t whine. Man up, stop the endless crap and actually contribute something for a change.

  76. “I predict some links w/ the poor performance stories. I’m Carnac, the Prick, tonight.”

    This is a refreshing new ploy: apologizing in advance for giving wrong information that you anticipate being refuted.

  77. Thanks Mike….

    Most juvenile training detention centers are exactly the opposite of what they should be there for…..

    The PA judges should be heavily penalized…..

  78. Nice spin, Mike. I’m supporting Mr. Turley’s wishes, et vous? I’m being civil, but you seem hung up on your version of truth. So now instead of “lies” or “liar” it’s “deceitful” that you are spewing toward me. Finally, even those who are your buddies got a laugh when you say about me, “He talks, you listen.” You “talk” here in long, sanctimonious, screeds, this latest being Exhibition 4258. That “echo chamber” hit a nerve. Deal w/ it, don’t lay it on me. Those were Mr. Turley’s words. I just quoted him. Please, for the sake of this blog that you purportedly love, move on and let this go. It will be better for you, also. Win/win.

  79. Profits Over Justice: The 21st century prison system in America
    By Nicolas Rochon
    FRIDAY MAY 24, 2013
    http://www.theinternational.org/articles/422-profits-over-justice-the-21st-century-pr

    Excerpt:

    The rise of CCA and The GEO Group

    Founded as the first private prison company in 1983, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was the brainchild of three individuals – Tom Beasley, Robert Crants and Don Hutto – who already had strong ties to political, business and correctional offices in the state of Tennessee, respectively. As described by the Justice Policy Institute, the three “Uncovered a system plagued by overcrowding [and] tight budgets… convincing [them] that with a few simple applications of business practices the corrections system could be transformed from an inefficient bureaucracy to a profitable business.” Since its inception, CCA has grown to be a billion dollar company that constructs and manages 66 correctional and detention facilities across the US.

    Likewise, The GEO Group, originally Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, was founded in 1984 as a for-profit private corrections, detention and mental health treatment provider. Today, GEO runs 96 facilities in North America, Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Both the CCA and GEO record near 50 percent of their annual earnings through state level contracts, while the remaining 50 percent comes through contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, US Marshals and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. As of 2010, these two private prison giants netted a total of $2.9 billion, as cited in the Justice Policy Institutes’s 2011 “Gaming the System” report. The same year, CCA’s President and CEO Damon T. Hininger received $3.2 million in executive compensation, while GEO Group’s Chairman and CEO George Zoley received $3.5 million, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). While all profits of private prisons come from government contracts at the state and federal level, it is taxpayer money that ultimately funds the durability of the private prison industry.

    The Justice Policy Institute writes, “With the promise of comparable corrections services at a greatly reduced cost, state, federal, and local governments have increasingly contracted with the private sector for the financing, design, construction, management, and staffing of prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities… Despite no conclusive evidence in the cost savings of private corrections, and growing evidence of significant collateral expenses borne by the public of incarcerating people in private prisons, the trend of for-profit prison privatization continues.”

    The American Legislative Exchange Council

    Reported by the American Civil Liberties Union, the population size of private prisons within the US has increased by more than 1,600 percent since 1990. To consider that before 1983 private prisons did not exist while today they house nearly 130,000 prisoners, the ACLU attests to the fact that the “private prison explosion went hand-in-hand with [the] massive increase in incarceration rates” during the same period. However, it is important to note that this correlation was not by accident. One of the biggest supporters and partners of companies like CCA and GEO is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization made of state legislators who have pushed harsh sentencing and detention laws into effect since 1975. In fact, ALEC legislators were responsible for enacting “truth in sentencing” and “three strikes” laws in as many as 27 states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Described by one ALEC member in ACLU’s report, “The organization is supported by money from the corporate sector, and, by paying to be members, corporations are allowed the opportunity to sit down at the table and discuss the issues that they have an interest in. After ALEC meetings, legislators return to their home states with ALEC model legislation.”

  80. ALEC, For-Profit Criminal Justice, and Wisconsin
    Brendan Fischer
    July 18, 2011
    http://www.prwatch.org/news/2011/07/10902/alec-profit-criminal-justice-and-wisconsin

    Excerpt:
    ALEC Alumni Scott Walker and For-Profit Prisons

    Current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was a proud ALEC member when he was in the state legislature. Among the ALEC bills he introduced were “truth in sentencing” and several ALEC-inspired bills to privatize the state’s prison system; these bills had been approved by the ALEC Criminal Justice Task Force (of which the for-profit prison company Corrections Corporation of America is a member, and at times the co-chair). Since taking office, Governor Walker has continued to push these ALEC-supported “criminal justice” efforts.

    In 1997, then-Representative Walker introduced (and the legislature passed) the ALEC “truth in sentencing” act, which requires inmates serve their full sentence without options for parole or supervised release. The law takes away incentives for prisoners to reduce prison time through good behavior and participation in counseling, and eliminates the ability for judges and parole boards to decide that the financial and social costs of keeping a particular person incarcerated no longer furthers public safety goals. The state estimated that the first 21 months after the law took effect would require 990 inmates to spend 18,384 additional months in jail, costing taxpayers an extra $41 million. In the seven years after the law took effect, Wisconsin’s prison population increased 14%, with no correlative public safety benefit or additional decline in crime rates. Further, the annual budget for the state prison system increased from $700 million in 1999 to $1.2 billion in 2009, becoming the third-largest expenditure in the 2009-2011 state budget.

    At the time, “[t]here was never any mention that ALEC or anybody else had any involvement” in the crafting of the bill, said Walter Dickey, a former head of Wisconsin’s prison system and current University of Wisconsin Law Professor, and who had paid close attention to the truth-in-sentencing debate.

    During this period of growing prison populations, then-Representative Scott Walker introduced several bills between 1997 and 1999 that would allow private prisons in Wisconsin, including one to privatize state prison operations (see the ALEC bill here), and another allowing private corrections companies to open prisons in Wisconsin to house inmates from other states (see the ALEC bill here). Walker noted in 1998 that longtime ALEC member Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) wanted to expand into Wisconsin. While those bills did not pass, some inmates were contracted-out to private prisons in other states, and CCA has registered lobbyists in the state ever since.

    “Clearly ALEC had proposed model legislation,” Walker told American Radio Works in 2002. “And probably more important than just the model legislation, [ALEC] had actually put together reports and such that showed the benefits of truth-in-sentencing and showed the successes in other states. And those sorts of statistics were very helpful to us when we pushed it through, when we passed the final legislation.” Those statistics, though, were critiqued by criminologists as unreliable and intended to persuade rather than educate: Walker said that he and fellow ALEC members relied on an ALEC report crediting Virginia’s truth-in-sentencing law with a five-year drop in crime, but crime dropped in ALL states in the 1990s, regardless of whether a state passed tough-on-crime laws like truth-in-sentencing.

    Dickey said in 2002 it is “shocking” that lawmakers would write sentencing policy with help from ALEC, a group that gets funding from, and supposedly “expertise” from a private prison corporation.

    “I don’t know that they know anything about sentencing,” he said. “They know how to build prisons, presumably, since that’s the business they’re in. They don’t know anything about probation and parole. They don’t know about the development of alternatives. They don’t know about how public safety might be created and defended in communities in this state and other states.”

    (See this graphic from American Radio Works explaining the CCA-ALEC-Wisconsin sentencing law connection)

    The Wisconsin state legislature apparently recognized the folly of truth in sentencing and rolled-back aspects of the law between 2001 and 2009. When Scott Walker became governor, he reversed this progress and pushed for legislation fully restoring the ALEC corporation-supported truth in sentencing, despite the costs to taxpayers and despite claiming Wisconsin was “broke.” In early July, Governor Walker’s office released a statement supporting expanded use of prison labor, another idea promoted in ALEC bills. Some observers have speculated that private prisons are next.

  81. “Those were Mr. Turley’s words. I just quoted him.”

    And what I related Nick, about Jonathan’s words to the Guest Bloggers, that you had apologized for your behavior and promised to curtail your attacks was also true and in my long post I pointed out that you. People who break promises are liars in my book and for that alone you’ve proven yourself to be a liar here, but we know there is so much more proof of your deception.

    ” You “talk” here in long, sanctimonious, screeds, this latest being Exhibition 4258.”

    Actually, I don’t. You actually comment more than 5 times more than I do. While it’s true that your comments are mostly non sequiturs, or nasty one-liners, they effectively interfere with discussion far more that they provide anything of interest. However, the real reason you don’t like my “sanctimonious screeds” is that when they’re directed at you I offer back up to what I say. With you, being the kind of slippery liar you are, one has to explain the “subtlety” of your “game”. I’ve called you dishonest and deceitful, but for the most part your deceit is done in what you mistakenly perceive is a non-direct manner. that is why I call you cowardly as well. Your attack on the “chattering classes” here and their wanting to impose an “echo chamber” was directed at who Nick? Do you deny that it was directed at those “guest bloggers” such as me, Gene, Elaine and Chuck?

    “Mike. I’m supporting Mr. Turley’s wishes, et vous? I’m being civil, but you seem hung up on your version of truth.”

    I was being civil as well in responding to your “civil” attacks. what you find uncivil was that I merely nailed what you were doing and pointed out how you constantly behave deceitfully here. And yes deceitfulness is one of the characteristics of a liar. You confuse civility, because you lack the capacity it seems. If I called Hitler a loathsome mass murderer would I be being uncivil? Now you’re certainly not Hitler, but you are a lying attempted bully and when you express the truth about someone that doesn’t mean one is being uncivil.
    However, if a person makes such a charge it behooves him to provide a clear statement of his reasons, hence my long comment, which was civilly written. As for being hung up on “my version of truth”, look in the mirror Nick.

    “BFM said he appreciated our discussion, so you taking up his “cause” seems more than a bit bizarre.”

    Now what is bizarre is your sentence above. I wasn’t taking up BFM’s cause as I explained BFM is more than capable of taking on anyone here and is perfectly capable of defending himself, as I pointed out. What you were doing with your comments to BFM was trying to set up an adversarial situation where none existed. I mostly agree with BFM’s comments as did most others. You were, rather incompetently, trying to instigate him and BTW he is not someone who is easily instigated. He has always been a very thoughtful and civil person on this blog. In that respect if you read his words in context:

    “Nick, it is a pleasure.
    You and I don’t always agree. But that does not bother me at all. I already know what I think. Why would I spend time on a web page where everyone thinks as I do.”

    It seems to be his nice way of saying that he doesn’t need your advice and counsel, which is classic of a classy commenter like BFM.

    “Please, for the sake of this blog that you purportedly love, move on and let this go. It will be better for you, also. Win/win.”

    Translation: “You’ve exposed my deceit enough and you are hurting this blog by doing it and that I’ll be in trouble with Jonathan if I don’t
    showing who you exactly are”. I’ll be in trouble how Nick. Are you going to E mail him again whining that you’re being attacked? Of course you will neglect the fact that you attacked initially and were being civilly responded to.

    Here’s the thing though Nick that really gives your true measure. The subject of this blog was the juvenile prison system and how it is abusing teens under their care. If you think about it Nick this was a softball lobbed in your direction. You after all have told us of your experience as a prison guard in Leavenworth, was it? What better place for you to let your anecdotes flow and your expertise shine through. All you chose to say on that subject was:

    “I have no problem w/ most govt. services being privatized…………. if you have not worked in a maximum security prison you have NO IDEA what these men are like, and how difficult it is to treat them w/ dignity, no freakin’ idea. And, that is why the employees must be govt. employees and held accountable by the govt.”

    Quite a fair comment, but then it was BFM who challenged your first statement about privatization:

    “@Nick Spinelli “I have no problem w/ most govt. services being privatized.”

    The promise of privatization was that competition would lead to similar quality of services at lower costs.

    That seems to be rarely the case.

    What we see now is frequently a mockery of the arguments used to justify privatization

    Why would anyone support privatization unless there were clearly documented advantages such as improved service or lower cost.”

    It was BFM, not the “chattering Guest Bloggers” who were taking issue with you. Rather than engage in a civil discussion with him on privatization, you chose to first make this all about Elaine and then about the rest of us, while
    patronizing him by implying he was being attacked. He politely declined your offer of assistance and you “mis-read” it as praise.

    I take the time to write this because I’m basically documenting and deciphering your deceitful behavior here. I have never been in favor of banning you Nick, but I also refuse to let you get away with your disruption and deceit. I’m merely creating a permanent record of that disruption and deceit for those who don’t spend the same amount of time here that I do.
    Lying behavior only works Nick when people don’t pay full attention and I am encapsulating your pathetic game for those readers who have something else to do in their lives, other than comment on this blog.

  82. I’ve seen threads here take on a life of their own. They become toxic. You are toxic Mike. As I told you, I’ve been reading old threads predating my coming her last year. I am a lover and teacher of history. I started reading this latest screed, then I just stopped. I said to myself, this man who considers himself “An elder statesman” of this blog, or thinks others consider him that, went to bed angry..something we should never do, and woke up angry. He woke up spewing words like “liar” just trying to show everyone no one “is the boss of him.” That’s a quote from children’s vernacular. He will keep throwing out “liar” because he has seniority and NO ONE can stop him. I will not contribute to this becoming another one of those toxic threads.

    Watch some football, relax. I just hope one of your fellow Jet fans doesn’t cold cock some woman today.

  83. Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration
    ACLU
    11/2/11
    https://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/banking-bondage-private-prisons-and-mass-incarceration

    Executive Summary

    The imprisonment of human beings at record levels is both a moral failure and an economic one — especially at a time when more and more Americans are struggling to make ends meet and when state governments confront enormous fiscal crises. This report finds, however, that mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for one special interest group — the private prison industry — even as current incarceration levels harm the country as a whole. While the nation’s unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom, wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and taxpayers, the private prison industry reaps lucrative rewards. As the public good suffers from mass incarceration, private prison companies obtain more and more government dollars, and private prison executives at the leading companies rake in enormous compensation packages, in some cases totaling millions of dollars.

  84. What AY and Gene said about the judges needing to experience some alone time in prison.
    Elaine,
    As usual, the ACLU article on private prisons is a good one and on point. Follow the money and it usually leads to corporations stealing from the public coffers.

  85. Here’s how I “bottom-line” the whole “privatized prison” thing…when you turn a prison into a for-profit entity, inmates become cheap labor, rehab turns into “do what we say”, and care becomes the least you can do to sustain human life. So, how do corporations become more profitable? They acquire more resources…and with each corrupt official that’s prosecuted, every litany of corners that get cut, it seems to me the way is being paved for a class-action suit against these monstrous entities,who, as legally-fictitious “persons” seem to have more protections than the humans they emulate for legal purposes. I hope that day comes sooner rather than later. I am hopeful because THE UN has actually tried to get into some CA prisons after allegations of abuse of solitary confinement practices, but that seems to be just the tip of the iceberg. (I doubt most private prisons would meet any UN international standards for care or concern.) Excellent work everybody. (For an adjunct on how private prisons exacerbate the suffering of their “human capital”(ie, slaves), please read this linked story about GlobalTel, one of those odious companies profiting from cell-mates. I have personal experience with the low-quality of their “services”, e.g., phone calls that require pushing buttons to accept, which then drop about 60% of the time, and are still debited from the deposited funds. Same as with replenishing a deposit:if your balance is zero, you must wait until the inmate calls you and then you’re forced through a labyrinthine pushbutton menu maze which includes typing in a credit card number, having it repeated to you, then waiting for verification, and when this is done, the call is cut off and you are, naturally,charged for it. This really needs to be investigated. Here’s the link to read for yourself: https://www.aclu.org/blog/prisoners-rights/meet-prison-phone-company-profiting-love)

  86. “Here’s how I “bottom-line” the whole “privatized prison” thing…when you turn a prison into a for-profit entity, inmates become cheap labor, rehab turns into “do what we say”,”

    Garry Todd,

    I couldn’t think of a better summation of the issue, you nailed it elegantly.

  87. Please accept this belated comment for the “record”. This is not specifically about juvenile treatment but it fits into the general discussion. As one who experienced first-hand the inhumane treatment of federal prisoners at a federal prison in the CCA network of private prisons, I can tell you that the thirst for money is what drives these guys.

    I was made to sleep on the floor with several others in a cell built for two men. The absolute lack of space put my head near the toilet. More than once I got the sprinklings of urine from my cellmates who had to go in the middle of the night.

    Eventually, they got you into a bunk bed but then others would come into the cell and it would be overcrowded again, and the poor newcomer would have to sleep on the floor and suffer the potential hazards. I’m sure the owners did not think about correcting the overcrowding or other embedded problems — they were yachting and jet-setting with the hundreds of millions poured into their coffers by the American taxpayers.

    Overcrowding was tame in comparison to the famous lockdowns in the Northern Ohio venue. They close everything up for weeks at a time. No one gets out of the cell. Cold, lifeless “food” is brought to the cell, each portion mixed into the other, globs of mush that only the truly cold-hearted of us could partake. You get to wash for 10 minutes twice a week. No exercise, no walks, no nothing — just sitting in your cell ad infinitum, 24 hours, 7 days and then so on.

    The lockdowns were punishment for incidents where someone shanked someone else out in the yard, an event that myself and thousands of others knew nothing about. Being a novice, during these lockdowns I almost got killed a few times because my unseemly bouts of crying and depression were taking others down and getting them mad. I was struck and pushed and mangled by equally frustrated men and mindless, sadistic young gang-bangers on several occasions. I had been treated for chronic depression for years and being in lockdown for doing nothing other than existing was a good prescription for making it exponentially worse.

    Add to it an uncontrollable fear of claustrophobic confinement and the lockdowns were a constant talk with death for someone in my weakened emotional condition. There was no help and no one to plead to in this forsaken maze of horrors that my government paid millions to keep in business.

    The food is unmanageable and as barren as a deadened blade of grass. These wayward stations of the more understated form of torture are indefensible to those who’ve been there, who know the truth. This was not one man’s experience …. I researched the situation as well as I could and found the lockdowns were a regular practice for years, a way to cut their budget even more by giving no services and keeping everyone stopped in one spot for weeks at a time. Where were the overseers from the federal government? Where were those who were supposed to see what was being done with the boondoggles of money put into the hands of the owners?

    The over-crowding is a necessity. It has gone on for yeas and is a way for these firms to get a double flow of federal tax money constantly pouring in. Why tell the government that you have no more space when that will bring in less revenue? And so the injustice of inhumanity continues on, and no reporting or complaining is going to change the economic power principles that are the cemented foundation for the success of these human sardine cans.

  88. JJ Keller,

    The conditions you describe are more than inhumane, they are despicable. The US prides itself on being exceptional, yet these conditions equal those in countries we disdain as primitive. The concept of for profit prisons for youths, or for adults inevitably leads to such miscarriages of justice. Beyond that though it seems a little historical research will reveal that even the publicly run prison systems have met the standard of cruel and unusual punishment. A society must be judged on how it treats people in all categories and unfortunately our society fails the humanity test.

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