Home » Op-Ed/Letters » The Prison Debate: Week Two. Public & Employee Safety
The facts are irrefutable...until you read those other reports which weren't funded by the private prison industry.

The Prison Debate: Week Two. Public & Employee Safety

By: Linda Gross

(Update: Thursday)  This blog post was recently updated to reflect the correct source of the “Report on Prison Privatization” as being the Prison Corrections Institute”, and providing the actual PDF for readers to access.)

This week’s debate in the AZ Silverbelt, centers on public and employee safety.

Zache, speaking on behalf of the EDC who is backing the effort to bring a private prison to Globe, quotes Geoffrey Segal of the Reason Foundation, as identifying 17 studies that conclude “quality at private facilities is as good or better than at government-run facilities. Segal goes on to to tout the benefits of these private prisons ending with the statement that “there is clear and significant evidence that private prisons actually improve quality.”

Wow!  Sounds good. You can hardly question an organization with a name like the Reason Foundation, can you? Kinda like “Fly Safe Airways.” Just makes you want to book a flight.

Well, turns out the Reason Foundation which was established in 2004, is funded by the Private Prison Industry. We question politicians motives when we discover they are being bought off by special interests. Perhaps, before making a decision based on the claims of The Reason Foundation, and it’s spokesman, George F. Seagal, you might consider the roots of the organization.

In the same May 2010 press release by the Prison Corrections Institute refutes much of the Reason Foundation findings in a piece entitled: Report on Prison Privatization Plagued with Conflicts of Interest,Faulty data, Political Connections, PCI press release re Reason report 2010 (2)-2 . In it they also mention the American Correctional Association, also cited by Zache in this week’s debate as being a legit mechanism for accredidation. The PCI report differs on this point.

Bob Zache: Born and raised in Miami, Robert J. Zache graduated from Miami High School in 1955. After spending time in the U.S. Army and the mines, he graduated from ASU with a BA in Journalism, and went on to work for the Phoenix Gazette, Gila Pueblo College and the Arizona Silver Belt. He sits on the Board of EDC.

According to it’s website the facts listed by Zache, the American Correctional Association determines if a facility meets nationally accepted standards for quality of operation, management and maintenance. Zache says the association has accredited 10% of government-operated facilities and 44 % of private facilities. Good stuff. We should rest assured that ACA is watching over these facilities – atleast 44% of them – and making sure they meet State standards. Right?

Yet, what are we to make of the report on prison privatization above which says, “The report fails to mention that the ACA – a private, self-regulated organization composed of former and current corrections officials – receives revenue from private prison companies, which also sponsor the ACA’s biannual conferences”

And that same ACA was noted in a June 2010 article by the Boston Globe,The ACA is probably most well known for its controversial accreditation program. “To prison chiefs and jail sheriffs nationwide, it is considered the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for corrections… But a closer look at the accreditation program of the American Correctional Association… shows that it has routinely accredited facilities beset by charges of abuse or poor conditions.

 

 

The Mayor, and Globe City Council, along with other local leaders seem to be taking “the word” of the private prison experts that we have nothing to fear. They say the promises are solid. The “facts”irrefutable” and the value of a private prison obvious.  In the words of George Segal who is referencing a study his group did with the Arizona Dept of Corrections , ” reading the study makes one wonder why all prison haven’t been turned over to private industry operators.”

Maybe.

Until you read those “other reports” not funded by Corrections Corp of America and the Private Prison Industry.

Weigh in this week on the AZ SilverBelt Debate:

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3 comments

  1. Check out the recent piece in the Courier-Journal in July 2010 (https://www.courier-journal.com/article/20100705/NEWS01/7050312/Behind-the-Bars-Experts-question-benefits-of-private-prisons) which outlined a few discrepancies stating among other things “…since the mid-1990s, according to researchers at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, ” several studies, have questioned the private prison industry’s claims, especially with respect to cost savings and security.” The payscale for Private Prison Guards is closer to $8 – $10/hour , NOT the $33,000 being touted by the Emerald Companies – and no where near the rumored $47,000 which is a figure floating around the local jail house.

  2. Thanks for unmasking the paid-for ‘experts’ of the private prison industry.

    It really is shameful when defenders of a point-of-view KNOWINGLY recite the phony research statistics and talking points of industry insiders.

    And, it is disappointing when elected officials depend upon this phony research to justify votes on important resolutions. Sometimes this happens unwittingly…….it is a matter of failure to conduct due-diligence. That can be forgiven if & when the elected official acknowledges his/her error, and fixes the mistaken vote.

    Unfortunately, some officials choose to hold on to misguided, inaccurate information…….why? Perhaps stubborn pride, arrogance, ignorance, or political expediency….

  3. I was startled to hear that the city of Globe is considering investing in a private prison enterprise for the Globe Miami area.
    Although the promise of jobs is certainly attractive- as is the expansion of the tax base,a couple of points in the proposal raise alarm bells for me.
    How likely is it In the current economy that a prison will be able to provide both of these benefits? In a time of contracting state budgets, is it realistic to believe that a prison (which taxpayers have indeed invested in by floating a bond) will fill with prisoners- either federal or state? How long will the city be servicing the bonds it is expected to float? And what happens if for any reason the prison fails to happen? Will the city be left with bond debt and no additional revenues to service it?

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