Governor Kasich

Inspection of Kasich’s CCA owned prison shows staff assaults up over 300% – Thanks ALEC!

Inspection of Kasich’s CCA owned prison shows staff assaults up over 300% – Thanks ALEC!

For the second time in six months, Correction Corporation of America’s (CCA) privately owned Lake Erie Correctional Institution (LaECI) has received a dismal report from prison inspectors.  A report, issued in February by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) presents some very alarming statistics.

“From 2010-2012, inmate-on-inmate assaults at LaECI have increased by over 180 percent while inmate-on-staff assaults increased by over 300 percent. Inmate violations for fighting have increased 40 percent, and the total number of prison disturbances in 2012 doubled in comparison to prior years.”

lake erie CIThis is the second failed inspection report received by CCA for LaECI since CCA bought the institution in 2011.  When negotiating for purchasing and operating the facility, CCA promised to operate the facility to meet the standards set by the ODOC for all prisons in the state.  However, as with nearly every other such contract signed based upon promises and assurances from CCA, once they take possession both assurance and promise are tossed out the window.

The report advises that CCA will be given another six months to clean up the institution and their act.  With two dismal reports already and worsening conditions between the first inspection and the second, it is unlikely CCA will make more than a cursory effort of compliance.  For Ohio to take back the institution and run it properly would involve a lengthy period of litigation and paying CCA for the facility.  Ohio sold the prison to CCA because they needed cash to operate the rest of the prison system and that money is long gone.  Thinking they could scrape together nearly $300 million to repurchase LaECI and pay for litigation costs is unrealistic.  This all began years ago with legislation written by a right wing think tank to allow states to lease state prison facilities to private companies – “Private Correctional Facilities Act“.  This legislation has now been disseminated coast to coast and is the basis for dozens of privately run prisons today housing hundreds of thousands of prisoners at taxpayer expense.

Governor Kasich appointed Gary Mohr to the position of Director of the Ohio Department of Corrections in January 2011.  Mohr came back to Ohio from Corrections Corporation of America where he was a managing director.  Kasich’s former congressional “chief of staff” was hired by CCA the same month Mohr was appointed:

“Mohr is a former consultant and managing director for Corrections Corporation of America, a Nashville-based company that is eligible to bid on the state prison contracts once they are made available next month.

“The company, which bills itself the leading private-sector provider of corrections services to governments, also hired Kasich’s former congressional chief of staff, Donald Thibaut, as a lobbyist in January.”

So there are several close ties and connections between Ohio’s current Governor and CCA similar to an ongoing relationship between CCA and Arizona Governor Brewer,  In Arizona, two of Brewer’s top staffers worked as lobbyists for CCA immediately prior to the introduction and passage of SB 1070 in 2010.  CCA has been identified as helping write the SB 1070 legislation that was crafted at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Governor Kasich and Governor Brewer are ALEC Alumni – as is CCA who quit the organization in 2010 after their part in SB 1070 was revealed.

CCA has a history of operating prisons in a manner to generate profits.  Profits that are used to pay dividends to investors and to lobby lawmakers for more criminal laws, longer sentences, less regulation and to vote to sell or lease state prisons to CCA.  All of this fills their beds, creates “products” to fill those beds and a shelf life that continues to increase through longer sentences and the absence of parole (which incidentally ALEC helped to abolish nationwide).  This drives up the costs of incarcerating millions of Americans and turns those tax dollars into corporate profits.  In 2011 it was reported CCA and Geo Group, the two top U.S. private prison companies earned $2.9 billion dollars…nearly all of that from tax expenditures by the feds and state issued contracts to incarcerate.

Taxpayers should receive a proper return on their investment.  They are paying CCA in Ohio to operate their privately run prisons in compliance with existing laws and administrative regulations.  This is not being done, and as always, CCA is given leniency and provided more time to come into compliance.  Such leniency would not be given to state run prisons and heads would roll if this was a state operated facility.  Staff and inmates alike are risking their lives every day they serve in LaECI – as workers or prisoners – and the state ultimately bears a responsibility to offer both protection from violence.

Over the next six months CCA will continue to operate as they have and the CIIC will go back, find more of the same and shrug it off…because prisoners have no voice, no lobby and no representative to speak on their behalf.  Most will return to the streets of Ohio cities and towns after serving time in this CCA prison.  Housed three deep in cells designed for one inmate, with no rehabilitation, drug or counseling programs  – and citizens will ask why they are so angry when they return and why released offenders commit further crimes an return to prison?  The answers are simple, because that is how the “system” has been designed, to operate as a revolving door to accept prisoners and keep them as long as possible, return them to their communities with a deep anger and no possibility of securing a job…then welcome them back a second or third time and with longer sentences.

If Governor Kasich and his CCA appointed ODOC Director cannot hold CCA’s feet to the fire to come into compliance and are unwilling to take back this publicly owned prison that they sold to their “friends” or former employers, then they should both go, replaced by others with less propensity for such open corruption.  A Department of Corrections is supposed to incarcerate prisoners and “correct” the behavior that sent each man or woman to prison.  These kind of contracts between state actors and companies such as CCA are barely average on the incarceration requirement and completely failing in providing any form of correction.

Below is the overview summary taken from the CIIC report that shows clearly the severity and potential harm that exists in LaECI:

“The inspection of LAECI raised a number of significant concerns. At CCA staff’s invitation, CIIC will conduct a full re-inspection in six months’ time to reevaluate; this report is therefore to be considered a progress report.

“LAECI’s primary issue is safety and security. Staff interviews, inmate focus groups, the inmate survey, and institutional data all indicate that personal safety is at risk at LAECI. Assaults, fights, disturbances, and uses of force have all increased in comparison to prior years. There is a high presence of gang activity and illegal substance use. Inmates reported frequent extortion and theft.

“Incident reports indicate that staff hesitate to use force even when appropriate and at times fail to deploy chemical agents prior to physical force, risking greater injury to both inmates and staff. Staff also do not appropriately sanction inmates for serious misconduct. At the time of the inspection, the facility had no options for sanctions other than the segregation unit, which was full.

“The above issues are compounded by high staff turnover and low morale. New staff generally do not have the experience or training to be able to make quick judgments regarding the appropriate application of force or how to handle inmate confrontations. Staff also reported that they are often required to work an extra 12 hours per week, which may impact their response.

“Staff have relayed that they have already instituted additional security measures to control contraband and that they are in the process of implementing a stratification plan that will improve the overall facility environment and violence levels. Following the inspection, LAECI staff were very responsive to CIIC’s concerns. Staff promptly developed extensive action plans and engaged in several follow-up discussions with CIIC regarding the identified issues. LAECI staff also relayed that they are actively engaging local stakeholders to build positive relationships with the surrounding community.

“CIIC welcomes the opportunity to return in six months to reevaluate.”

I believe CCA staffers were “very responsive” to the first inspection and developed actions plans and made promises.  As seen from this latest report, this is CCA’s way of doing business and stalling compliance that would cut into their profits.

Here is another report from Idaho on CCA’s falsification of employee shift records.  In this case they not only was the prison understaffed, CCA was charging the state for imaginary staffers working shifts of as long as 48 hours.  In all CCA employees falsified nearly 4,800 hours of staffing records over seven months last year in violation of its contract with the state.  CCA has now admitted to this falsification of staff work records, saying,  “Workers involved will be reprimanded, and the company told the Department of Correction it will reimburse the state.”  I’m thinking if this was committed by state workers or for that matter, you or I, we’d receive much more than a reprimand and would very likely find ourselves sitting in one of CCA’s prisons…

Ohio’s Secretary of State – and ALEC Alum – Ignores Court Order To Expand Weekend Voting

From an AlterNet article / By Steven Rosenfeld

VLTP: The legislation popping up in numerous states to disenfranchise millions of predominantly Democratic voters who are students, elderly, Black or Hispanic, come from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  There have been many articles tracking these efforts back to ALEC.  An article published on PolicyMic and VLTP last week exposed that in Ohio, three top state officials; Governor Kasich, PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler…and Secretary of State, Jon Husted are all ALEC alumni: http://www.vltp.net/prvt-edu-s….

This helps voters understand why Secretary Husted is deliberately attempting to ignore the court’s decision and mandate.  By claiming that Ohio is awaiting the conclusion of the “Appellate” process in disregarding the lower court’s ordered injunction, I believe Husted is overstepping his authority in an effort of advancing a deliberate voter suppression and thus, ALEC led agenda.

From the AlterNet article:

“If you want to see what voter suppression looks like in 2012, parse the logic and rehetoric in Husted’s latest directive—which his office has the authority to issue:

Announcing new hours before the court case reaches final resolution will only serve to confuse voters and conflict with the standard of uniformity sought in Directive 2012-35. Therefore, there is no valid reason for my office or the county boards of elections to set hours for in-person absentee voting the last three days before the election at this time. If the appellate courts ultimately reverse the trial court’s decision, in-person absentee voting for non-UOCAVA voters will end the Friday before the election. If however, the appellate courts uphold the trial court’s decision, I will be required to issue a consistent uniform schedule for statewide in-person voting hours for the last three days before the election. I am confident there will be sufficient time after the conclusion of the appeal process to set uniform hours across the state.

Obviously Ohio is an important swing state and the issues and positions of the candidates be damned – the GOP controlled state is demonstrating quite clearly that under the unholy ALEC held “trifecta” of Kasich, Husted and Snitchler they, like Pennsylvania are willing to do whatever is necessary to hand Romney their state in November.  They are willing to go so far as to deny hundreds of thousands of Ohio voters their right to vote in order to prevail at tossing “the Black guy” out of the White House…

Read the entire AlterNet/Rosenfeld article here

American Legislative Exchange Council – Federal Government and Corrupt Practices

This is a report issued by VLTP in November of 2011.  This work represents more than 2 years of deep research involving a handful of researchers who belong to VLTP’s sister group, American Legislative Transparency Project (ALTP) at the Daily Kos.

This report provides an in-depth analysis of ALEC’s involvement and influences at the federal level of our government.  Some of the mechanisms used by ALEC to facilitate passage of federal legislation important to them and their corporate members are identified.  Beginning in 2005 ALEC created a tenth task force specifically for influencing the U.S. Congress through their “alumni” serving as Senators and Representatives.

Organizations, foundations and think tanks funded and controlled by individuals such as Charles and David Koch are identified as well as their roles in advancing ALEC and the Koch conservative agenda.  The mechanisms, individuals and procedures used to promote pro-corporate initiatives are all here in this report.

For those wishing to understand precisely how and why our Congress has been so dysfunctional and unwilling to work together over the past decade, this will serve as an explanation.  We encourage any ALEC research group or individuals reporting on ALEC to read this 77 page report that is filled with links, documentation and factual statistics, names and other important information on the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Below is a partial listing from the Introduction…

ALEC Alumni Forum
By 2001 ALEC had a large active membership comprised of state lawmakers and corporate representatives and lobbyists. They had been successfully developing and implementing legislation at the state level for more than a quarter century. Many of their members had moved on to positions within the federal government or had been elected to Congress over the years. In an effort to increase their successful influence, ALEC began to advance their initiatives at the federal level. To facilitate this, ALEC created a “Forum” where state (members) and federal (alumni) lawmakers could interact and work to advance ALEC’s conservative, free market, pro-corporate initiatives and legislation at the Congressional level.
Federal Forum Task Force
With success brought about at the federal level through their Alumni Forum ALEC created an actual tenth “Task Force” in 2005. This TF was officially co-chaired by two ALEC alumni: one Senator and one House member. Their duties are to advance the initiatives presented at the state level directly to the U.S. Congress and to lobby in both Houses on behalf of these issues. They have successfully brought about the enactment of federal laws through this TF utilizing ALEC‘s numerous alumni and lobbying.
Influencing and Corrupting the Federal Judiciary
Free trips for state and federal judges with pro-corporate seminars given by think tanks, corporate executives and associates is discussed with links, facts and names involved. Influence upon and associations with key SCOTUS Justices are divulged. Research reveals more than five hundred judges have willingly taken these excursions and attended the pro-corporate seminars.

Anyone wishing more information or have information they would like to share about ALEC/Koch, please contact us via info@vltp.net.