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Senate Criminal Justice Committee

Dean of Texas Senate rejects CCA prison purchase proposal

Yesterday, Frank wrote that the ACLU, Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network, and a broad coalition of civil rights and faith leaders were opposing CCA's recent offer to buy state prisons in return for states maintaining 90% occupancy at these facilities.  

Now, these groups are being joined by Texas State Senator John Whitmire, the Dean of the Senate and long-time chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.  Whitmire, speaking to USA Today ("Private purchasing of prisons locks in occupancy rates," March 8th), had this to say:

"You don't want a prison system operating with the goal of maximizing profits," says Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat and advocate for reducing prison populations through less costly diversion programs. "The only thing worse is that this seeks to take advantage of some states' troubled financial position."

Former Kansas Secretary of Corrections Roger Werholtz also warned against the temptation of a "quick infusion of cash" saying,

"[m]y concern would be that our state would be obligated to maintain these (occupancy) rates and subtle pressure would be applied to make sentencing laws more severe with a clear intent to drive up the population."

Here's hoping state leaders in Texas and beyond see through this proposal. 

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