Exile to the Desert: 3 more years of CCA’s abuse.

Shame on the state of Hawaii for continuing this contract after all the abuses (including torture and the sexual assault of a prisoner by a guard) that have occurred in Saguaro Correctional Center in the prison town of Eloy under CCA’s watch. The people of the Islands should oppose this vociferously…your prisoners are just in for more abuse at the hands of Arizonans – especially your Indigenous. In fact, following this news article is a link to a decent piece by a friend of mine, Frank Smith from Private Corrections Institute, who’s an expert on the private prison industry. He did some extensive research into the experience of Native Americans in private prisons – it’s worth reading.

——————————-

State Signs New Three-Year Arizona Prison Deal

Hawaii Reporter

June 23, 2011

BY JIM DOOLEY – The state has signed a new, three-year contract with Corrections Corporation of America to house up to 1,900 prison inmates at private prisons in Arizona.

The price carries a one per cent increase over the curent contract with CCA, which expires at the end of the month. The Department of Public Safety will pay CCA $63.85 per inmate per day. The old rate was $63.22.

CCA is believed to have submitted the sole bid for the contract.

The new deal, which carries two possible one-year contract extensions, was signed as Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration is making plans to end the longstanding policy of imprisoning Hawaii inmates in out-of-state facilities.

Public Safety officials are drawing up a plan for the return of out-of-state prisoners, but its completion is sometime in the future and will depend on construction of new correctional facilities here and development of new community-based programs for men and women now locked behind bars.

The Hawaii State Auditor said in a report issued late last year the total cost of the private prison program more than tripled since 2001, from just under $20 million to more than $60 million.

The per-day charges under the new contract would total some $44.3 million, although there are millions the state must pay in associated costs which the contract with CCA doesn’t cover.

The actual number of Hawaii inmates now held at CCA’s Saguaro Correctional Facility in Eloy, Arizona is now believed to have dropped under 1,800 as the state has stepped up efforts to bring certain categories of prisoners home.

Some 60 Hawaii inmates are also being held at CCA’s Red Rock Correctional Facility, next door to the Saguaro complex.

————————–Native Americans in Private Prisons——————

Native Americans in Private Prisons.

Arizona Prison Watch
Friday, December 3, 2010

The following is the intro to a piece written by my friend Frank Smith, an expert on private prisons with the Private Corrections Working Group (where I dig up all those rap sheets on prison profiteers). Here’s the testimony he gave to the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons several years back – which makes some good points still relevant to the violence and abuse of prisoners at CCA’s Idaho Correctional Center, among other places.

Follow the link for the full text of the article, which I found posted to a great website on Lenape (Delaware Indian) culture and issues. The article was originally published as a chapter in the book “Capitalist Punishment: Prison Privatization and Human Rights” (Elizabeth Alexander, et al), a worthwhile text for any library on crime and punishment.

——————————-

Incarceration of Native Americans and Private Prisons
By Frank Smith

Introduction

There are currently slightly over two million inmates in local, state and federal jails and prisons. Of these, some 1.6 percent are Native Americans and Hawaiian Natives; in Federal institutions, Native Americans constitute 2 percent of the population, since the U.S. government is involved in criminal justice enforcement on reservations. Because approximately 6 percent of all U.S. inmates are held in private prisons, the total number of Native Americans in these for-profit prisons is comparatively rather small. For that reason, this article presents a picture of the conditions in which Native Americans are held given that limited experience.

Historical Perspective


In order to achieve an informed understanding of the current situation with regard to Native Americans in prison, it is necessary to place it within a larger historical and sociological context. While most residents of the US have the notion their country was founded on the principles of justice and freedom, closer examination reveals that perception is not accurate, particularly in the case of Native Americans.1

The more progressive of our founding fathers whom we remember so fondly as protectors of these ideals include Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. Paine consistently referred to Indians as “savages”, and used them as a negative comparative stereotype. Jefferson considered his contemporary Indians to be hindrances to colonial progress. The US only granted Natives citizenship in 1924, five years after women and 59 years after Black males were allowed to vote.

African Americans have undoubtedly been pervasively discriminated against in US history–their dehumanization was even embodied in the Constitution. Schoolchildren learn of the more egregious Supreme Court-approved violations of the rights of Blacks such as the Dred Scott decision or Plessy v. Feurgeson,2 and that the Civil War was fought in part over slavery.

They may have read the Emancipation Proclamation and even the Thirteenth to Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The sordid history in America of slave owning, in the north and south, of lynching, of Jim Crow, is discussed in most schools. The role of such historic figures as Frederick Douglas or Sojourner Truth is widely recognized. Martin Luther King Jr., is certainly better known than many mediocre presidents. Selma, Alabama, and Little Rock, Arkansas are familiar mileposts, as is Brown v. Board of Education. Students may even understand the meaning of racial profiling, of the immensedisparity between sentencing for crack cocaine, more prevalent in inner-city neighborhoods, and powdered cocaine, more favored by wealthier uburbanites.

They may possibly be aware that a Black adolescent has perhaps a 50 times greater chance of being placed in an adult penal institution than a white youth who has been charged with exactly the same crime,3 and that perhaps one of three young Black men has been subjected to some criminal sanction, such as probation, parole, jail or prison.

Yet how many Americans, young or old, fully understand that this same disenfranchisement; this same disproportionate treatment by the criminal justice system, has affected Native Americans since the Articles of Confederation were signed? How many realize that broken treaties have been the order of the day for over two hundred years? Do they know that the early settlement of this nation involved pushing indigenous peoples into ever smaller, less habitable reservations?

How many school children are taught the cruel facts behind the genocidal removal of the inhabitants of the post-Revolutionary Southeast? There is hardly a Native American tribe that does not have a history of broken treaties and persecution. What this long, troubled relationship between European Americans and Natives constitutes is deliberate disregard for and discrimination against Native culture. Theft of lands, exiles, dispossessions, and a prevailing condemnatory and paternalistic attitude provide the background for the problems of Native Americans in prisons, both public and private, today. It particularly pervades the conditions of confinement of Indians in private prisons…

Delay on Mainland Prison-building

All the more reason to develop prison alternatives, folks…by all means, though, get them out of Arizona. We’re just killing them here...

———————

New Prison Contract Overdue
Hawaii Reporter
Friday, May 27th, 2011
Posted by Jim Dooley

BY JIM DOOLEY – Although Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said repeatedly he wants to halt out-of-state incarceration of Hawaii prison inmates, the state is finalizing the award of a new, three-year contract for Mainland imprisonment of up to 2,000 convicts.

The contractor selection was supposed to be made at the beginning of this week, but a public safety official said the issue was still being finalized.

A spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the company that owns a private Arizona prison where some 1,900 Hawaii medium security inmates have been held, said he could not comment because contractor selection is still underway.

Abercrombie and other officials say new prison space, owned by the state or a private partner, needs to be developed here.

The new Mainland prison contract award is s being made against the backdrop of recent studies by the Hawaii Auditor and the Arizona Department of Corrections which question the true costs to taxpayers of privately-operated prisons.

CCA’s current agreement to house Hawaii inmates at Saguaro Correctional Center expires June 30.

The new contract is to take effect July 1 and last three years, with two possible annual extensions beyond that, according to the bid request published by the state earlier this year.

The state can cancel the contract with three months’ notice.

At present, the state is paying CCA $63.22 per day for each of the 1,900 or so inmates held at Saguaro, which is located in Eloy, Arizona, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.

Saguaro Correctional Facility (Hawaii Auditor Photo)

The present contract has an automatic escalator clause in the per diem rate and the charge has risen between two and three per cent annually since 2007, when it was set at $57, according to a December 2010 report Prison Audit from the office of Hawaii Auditor Marion Higa.

Costs to Hawaii for Mainland incarcerations have more than tripled since 2001, rising from just under $20 million annually to more than $60 million, according to Higa’s audit.

In-state prison expenses were more than $167 million last year.

Higa’s study was harshly critical of the state Public Safety Department’s reports to the Legislature on prison costs, saying the department used different methods to calculate in-state and out-of-state expenses.

“Management chooses to report artificial cost figures derived from a calculation based on a flawed methodology, designed entirely on what is easiest for the department to report,” Higa said.

“Because funding is virtually guaranteed, management is indifferent to the needs of policymakers and the public for accurate and reliable cost information. As a result, true costs are unknown,” said the audit, which was prepared before the Abercrombie administration took office.

One of the audit’s complaints was that didn’t use exact inmate counts for its in-state expense numbers, instead basing its reporting on the total number of prisoners that could be held in state-owned prisons.

And some overhead and administrative costs assigned to in-state operations should have been counted as out-of-state costs, Higa found.

Each bookkeeping method increased the costs of in-state incarcerations and decreased out-of-state costs, Higa said.

A recently-released study by the Arizona Department of Corrections of that state’s contracts with private prisons reached some of the same conclusions.

The study did not include the Saguaro facility. No Arizona prisoners are held there.

Like Higa’s study, the Arizona the report found that per diem rates charged by private prisons did not include “inmate management” expenses which the state also had to pay for privately-incarcerated inmates.

“As a result, the ‘real’ costs for private contract beds are understated in comparison to the reported costs for state beds,” the report said.

And the report pointed out that private prisons are selective about the types of inmates they accept.

Prisoners with severe physical or mental health problems are either not accepted by the private contractors or their treatment expenses are billed separately to the state, the report said.

That’s the situation with Hawaii’s CCA contract, according to Higa’s report and language in the new contract bid.

One factor in deciding whether to ship a Hawaii prisoner to Arizona is that there are “no medical or

Halawa Correctional Facility (Hawaii Auditor Photo)

mental health conditions that may affect an inmate’s ability to function within a normal range,” Higa reported.

The pending contract requires the vendor to pay the costs of routine “medical, mental health, and dental service.”

But some expenses must be paid by the state, including hospital physician reimbursements, surgeries and other “invasive procedures” and procedures involving anesthesiology, the contract language stipulates.

In those cases, the contractor must pay the first $2,000, but the state is responsible for the balance, according to the contract.

In a response to Higa’s audit, newly-appointed Public Safety Department director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata made it clear that no matter how the numbers are sliced and diced, private prisons are cheaper than Hawaii lock-ups.

Maesaka-Hirata is a leading advocate for bringing Hawaii inmates home to local prisons or to expanded community release programs.

She told Higa the price for 1,000 or so inmates now imprisoned at the Halawa Correctional Facility is double what it would be if they were held in Arizona (assuming the private prison would accept them).