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HB 1714 Would End County Contracts with Private Prisons

Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston), filed HB 1714 that prohibits counties from contracting with private prisons. Dutton's bill comes in the wake of a number of deaths and scandals that plagued county managed private facilities in recent years. Several suicides and in-custody deaths among prisoners from Idaho in a GEO managed facility led to the cancellation of local contracts.

We have published posts regurlarly on this blog regarding the problems that face privately run county jails that contract with other states. Bob wrote earlier this year that early termination for private jail contracts resulted in counties holding debt they could no longer handle. Not good policy in midst of a deep recession.

Dutton's legislation is certainly timely. We will keep you posted as the bill advances through the 81st legislature.


Keep in mind when evaluating the security of private prisons, that the counties and states that outsource these prisoners will often want to outsource their higher risk, less desirable prisoners. Specifically, Idaho has been known to farm out there large population of "Skin Head" inmates to jails in the South that have large populations of black inmates. What do you think might happen...either at a private or public facility??

This legislation may be timely, but is misguided. Your report seems to indicate that this legislation is the result of problems with management of a handful of out-of-state inmates, leading to the blanket ban on use of private operators in county jails. If that is true, it is unfair, and uses a small sample to prove an argument that demands more proof. If the legislation is as outlined it also proposes a far more insidious action, that of banning private operators in jails under any circumstances. Some counties need and want private operators in their facilities. No one asks the opinion of satisfied counties, they only look for the inflammatory tidbits that support an anti-privatization agenda. I can support the statement of "Bill" above: I have observed the offloading of problem inmates by several states, including the Idaho Aryan Brotherhood inmates in Texas, and worked in facilities where they were housed. Why do you think there are so many Hawaiians imprisoned on the mainland?

A “SINGLE VOICE PROJECT” is the official name of the petition sponsored by: The National Public Service Council To Abolish Private Prisons (NPSCTAPP) THIS PETITION SEEKS TO ABOLISH ALL PRIVATE PRISONS IN THE UNITED STATES, (or any place subject to its jurisdiction) The National Public Service Council To Abolish Private Prisons (NPSCTAPP) is a grass roots organization driven by a single objective. We want the United States government to reclaim sole authority for state and federal prisons on US soil. We want the United States Congress to immediately rescind all state and federal contracts that permit private prisons “for profit” to exist in the United States, or any place subject to its jurisdiction. We understand that the problems that currently plague our government, its criminal justice system and in particular, the state & federal bureau of prisons (and most correctional and rehabilitation facilities) are massive. However, it is our solemn belief that the solutions for prison reform will remain unattainable and virtually impossible as long as private prisons for profit are permitted to operate in America. Prior to the past month, and the fiasco of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Lehman Brothers, and now the “Big Three” American Automobile manufacturers, the NPSCTAPP has always felt compelled to highlight the “moral Bottom line” when it comes to corrections and privatization. Although, we remain confounded by the reality that our government has allowed our justice system to be operated by private interests. The NPSCTAPP philosophy has always been “justice” should not be for sale at any price. It is our belief that the inherent and most fundamental responsibility of the criminal justice system should not be shirked, or “jobbed-out.” This is not the same as privatizing the post office or some trash pick up service in the community. There has to be a loss of meaning and purpose when an inmate looks at a guard’s uniform and instead of seeing an emblem that reads State Department of Corrections or Federal Bureau of Prisons, he sees one that says: “Atlas Prison Corporation.” Let’s assume that the real danger of privatization is not some innate inhumanity on the part of its practitioners but rather the added financial incentives that reward inhumanity. The same logic that motivates companies to operate prisons more efficiently also encourages them to cut corners at the expense of workers, prisoners and the public. Every penny they do not spend on food, medical care or training for guards is a dime they can pocket. What happens when the pennies pocketed are not enough for the shareholders? Who will bailout the private prison industry when they hold the government and the American people hostage with the threat of financial failure…“bankruptcy?” What was unimaginable a month ago merits serious consideration today. State and Federal prison programs originate from government design, and therefore, need to be maintained by the government. It’s time to restore the principles and the vacated promise of our judicial system. John F. Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is while the sun is shinning”. Well the sun may not be shinning but, it’s not a bad time to begin repair on a dangerous roof that is certain to fall…. because, “Incarcerating people for profit is, in a word WRONG” There is an urgent need for the good people of this country to emerge from the shadows of cynicism, indifference, apathy and those other dark places that we migrate to when we are overwhelmed by frustration and the loss of hope. It is our hope that you will support the NPSCTAPP with a show of solidarity by signing our petition. We intend to assemble a collection of one million signatures, which will subsequently be attached to a proposition for consideration. This proposition will be presented to both, the Speaker Of The House Of Representatives (Nancy Pelosi) and the United States Congress. Please Help Us. We Need Your Support. Help Us Spread The Word About This Monumental And Courageous Challenge To Create Positive Change. Place The Link To The Petition On Your Website! Pass It On! The SINGLE VOICE PETITION and the effort to abolish private “for profit” prisons is the sole intent of NPSCTAPP. Our project does not contain any additional agendas. We have no solutions or suggestions regarding prison reform. However, we are unyielding in our belief that the answers to the many problems which currently plague this nation’s criminal justice system and its penal system in particular, cannot and will not be found within or assisted by the private “for profit” prison business. The private “for profit” prison business has a stranglehold on our criminal justice system. Its vice-like grip continues to choke the possibility of justice, fairness, and responsibility from both state and federal systems. These new slave plantations are not the answer! For more information please visit: or email: To sign the petition please visit: THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT! William Thomas National Community Outreach Facilitator The National Public Service Council To Abolish Private Prisons P.O. Box 156423 San Francisco, California 94115

Private prisons are responsible for America having the largest prison population the world has ever known. TWO JUDGES in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania made a conditional plea deal Monday regarding using their positions to guarantee placement of juvenile offenders into certain private detention facilities in exchange for $2.6 million in kickbacks. The children victimized by these judges are presumed to be poor kids - they appeared before the bench without lawyers in the halls of "justice" and were victimized. To ensure that the children these judges heartlessly sentenced went to the private detention facility, the judges also cut off money to the publicly-owned juvenile correctional facility, essentially shuttering it. Closing public facilities in order to imprison weaker people in our society worked as far as mental patients are concerned, so why not do the same with children? America's mentally ill citizens have long been victimized like Pennsylvania's children to satisfy the insatiable lust of unscrupulous businesspersons to earn huge profits in the private prison industry. While the public was being fed lies about the need to "deinstitutionalize" American mental patients, tens of thousands of acute mental patients were evicted from hospitals where some had lived for decades. America's most vulnerable citizens were then forced to scrape out a measley existence as homeless people on our streets, where those who devised this evil scheme knew that many formerly hospitalized acutely ill citizens (and those like them born in future generations) would eventually break laws and become business "commodities" in private prisons. But even that was not good enough for the werewolves' evil plan to be assured success. In order to make sure these sick citizens lost control and broke laws, funds for mental health care in America's communities was drastically cut, just as the Pennsylvania judges cut funds to the public juvenile detention centers. The unsuspecting public was told there simply were no funds available for mental health care, when actually, taxpayers are being forced to spend twice as much per patient to warehouse our sick citizens under cruel living conditions in prisons. THERE HAS BEEN NO "DEINSTITUTIONALIZATION" OF MENTAL PATIENTS! ABOUT 1.25 MILLION OF AMERICA'S PRISONERS ARE MENTALLY ILL. Therefore, our most vulnerable citizens are now sentenced to prisons instead of hospitals after breaking laws many of them did not understand or have the wherewithall to avoid breaking - many of whom did not understand their Miranda Rights and were unable to contribute to their own defense at trial. To have a more humane system of justice, end private prisons. Check online for Kendra's Law - it is an outpatient assistance treatment program that has better than 85% rate of effectiveness in eliminating homelessness, incarcerations, and hospitalization among America's mentally ill people. It combines subsistence assistance with enforced treatment for participants, which also keeps communities safer. It would be used more if it were not SO SUCCESSFUL that it threatens profits to prison investors. Mary Neal Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill (AIMI)