Republican Privatization Schemes In Action: Subhuman Prison Conditions

The ACLU has a deeply disturbing report about deteriorating conditions in Ohio prisons after Corrections Corporation of America took over. This is what privatization looks like: CCA took control of Lake Erie Correctional Facility on January

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The ACLU has a deeply disturbing report about deteriorating conditions in Ohio prisons after Corrections Corporation of America took over.

This is what privatization looks like:

CCA took control of Lake Erie Correctional Facility on January 1, 2012, and the problems started almost immediately. Officials in Conneaut, Ohio – where the prison is located – were surprised to learn they may be on the hook for policing the facility because state law prohibited the highway patrol from so investigating crimes in this no-longer-state-owned building. Conneaut taxpayers were not keen on CCA and the state passing the financial burden onto them, and despite the community successfully lobbying the state to change this law last year, Conneaut is still saddled with increased responsibility for policing Lake Erie.

Unfortunately, this is not where the problems end.

In September 2012, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) released its first internal audit report. If this was CCA's first report card, let's just say they would need to repeat the semester. The compliance rating plummeted from the 97.3% compliance rating the prison achieved when publicly-owned to 66.7%. Auditors found outrageous violations like prisoners being forced to use plastic bags for defecation and cups for urination because they had no running water for toilets. Basic conditions were heinous, with black mold, standing water, and spoiled food found throughout the prison. Perhaps even more troubling were reports that the medical department is grossly understaffed and many prisoners go untreated.

CCA is a very, very large contributor to Republicans, particularly the Republican Governors' Association. In 2012, it contributed $225,000 to the RGA, because Republican governors like to give them business. In 2010, the year Kasich was elected, their own report shows that corporate contributions were $722,200. Of course, they were able to bury these in the state-by-state breakdown they published following the totals, because the RGA is a national committee and doesn't break down by state.

This is what happens when public duties are handed off to for-profit corporations. According to CCA's most recent quarterly report, their contract for the Ohio facility is an initial twenty-year term with unlimited options to renew.

As the ACLU report warns, if the CCA wants to manage prisons in your state, just shout NO, over and over and over. Also, it might be good not to elect Republican governors.

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