Sunday, August 22, 2010

CCA decides to throw out Max Security Prisoners in Oklahoma for more profitable ICE detainees

"We've openly been marketing our empty prisons," Steve Owen said. "There is a demand and a need for prison services." Apparently by empty beds he also means beds that have Oklahoma minimum and maximum security prisoners sleeping in them.

It appears that CCA is now dumping prisoners back onto states in order to sign more lucrative (PROFITABLE!) contracts with the federal government. Looks like Oklahoma taxpayers are going to lose millions and have to scramble to find beds for these prisoners. Or maybe just let a bunch of convicts loose on the good citizens in Oklahoma if no beds are available. I would imagine that on top of a higher per diem rate CCA will also be laying off workers from these three prisons. ICE prisons typically do not have education staff or other program staff. Additionally the medical departments are often run by the federal government. Looks like lots of CCA employees could also possibly be losing jobs as CCA makes itself even more profit at the expense of Oklahoma citizens who welcomed the company to there communities! I hope Valdosta is paying attention. CCA is no ones friend.

Originally found here.

Federal contract could displace more than 2,000 Oklahoma prisoners
Corrections Corporation of America officials alerted Oklahoma corrections authorities in July of their intent to offer the Federal Bureau of Prisons space at three prisons in the state.

1st Published: August 22, 2010

More than 2,000 state inmates could be displaced from private prisons if a federal contract to house criminal illegal immigrants is awarded here. The move could cost the state Corrections Department and Oklahoma taxpayers millions of dollars.

Corrections Corporation of America officials told state corrections authorities in July they intended to offer three Oklahoma-based prisons to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They are: Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville and the empty Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga.

"There shouldn't be any surprise when something like this happens," said Justin Jones, state Corrections Department director. "Their product is the incarceration of criminals and it's a for-profit business."

If the contract is awarded, it could affect the placement of 1,800 medium security prisoners at Cimarron and Davis, and 360 maximum-security inmates at Davis, corrections officials said.

The department is operating with a more than $40 million budget deficit.

Federal officials would use the private prisons to house low-security male inmates, primarily criminal illegal immigrants who are Mexican citizens with one year or less to serve.

The business of incarceration

Federal contracts typically pay between $60 and $65 daily per prisoner, Jones said.

Oklahoma has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. They range from about $42 for minimum security inmates to about $57 for maximum security.

If the prisoners are moved, that could mean an increase of as much as $15 per prisoner, Jones said.

Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen wouldn't comment on rates discussed with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the contract.

Offers are being accepted from companies in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas, and would require 3,000 beds, according to a bid request from the bureau.

Bids are competitive, often based on geographic needs, Owen said.

Earnings increase

Corrections Corporation of America earlier this month reported their second-quarter earnings had increased nearly two percent in 2010 to $419.4 million from $412 million in 2009. The increase was fueled by a jump in inmate populations and a boost from new contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It notes the opening of a center in Mississippi to house about 2,500 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes and awaiting deportation.

"We've openly been marketing our empty prisons," Owen said. "There is a demand and a need for prison services."

Corrections Corporation of America is the largest for-profit prison company in the U.S. It currently houses about 75,000 individuals in more than 60 prisons and detention centers in the country, according to information on the company website. It partners with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, states and municipalities.

In 2009 financial statements, competitor GEO Group officials reported, "We believe that this federal initiative to target, detain, and deport criminal aliens throughout the country will continue to drive the need for immigration detention beds over the next several years."

GEO Group recently bought Cornell Cos., operator of Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton. The company has offered use of the prison for federal inmates as well.

This month, officials at the prison announced they would be laying off nearly 300 employees and sending more than 1,700 inmates back to Arizona. No Oklahoma prisoners are housed there.

Even county jails are responding to the need for federal bed space.

Tulsa County officials entered into an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in 2007. Garvin County also has an agreement with the agency to house and transport federal detainees.

Displaced inmates and jobs

Jones said if the bid by Corrections Corporation of America is accepted, the most challenging task would be finding room for the nearly 360 maximum-security prisoners being held at Davis.

There are not enough open maximum-security beds in the state to keep them there, he said. This might result in prisoners being shipped out of state — the first time it's happened since the mid-1990s.

"Obviously this would be a huge burden to families of those prisoners," he said. "It would also probably cost us more."

At the same time state officials worry about prison beds, the question looms about how Oklahoma jobs will be affected.

The possibility of jobs returning to the Watonga area is a bright spot. More than 300 Corrections Corporation of America employees lost their jobs when the Diamondback prison closed there in May. More than 2,000 inmates were returned to Arizona.

It was the largest employer in the area. Owen said company officials are anxious to get the prison running again.

He said he's not sure how employment would be affected at Davis and Cimarron if the bid is accepted.

In 2007, nearly 200 Cornell employees at the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton lost work after the state Corrections Department and the company failed to come to an agreement about reimbursement rates. The company then negotiated a contract for Arizona inmates.