3338 Country Club Road #L336
Valdosta GA 31605
26 August 2011
Hon. Jack Kingston
Member of Congress
First District of Georgia
Dear Mr. Kingston,
asked me last week in Tifton to provide you with evidence
that private prisons have fewer guards per prisoner than public
Here is an example:
"The largest juvenile prison in the nation, Walnut Grove Youth
Correctional Facility houses 1,200 boys and young men, between the
ages of 13 and 22, and is run by a private contractor, the GEO Group
based in Boca Raton, FL. ... State audits over the last several years
had already indicated the burgeoning problem. While it is recommended
at youth facilities to have an inmate-to-guard ratio of 10:1 or 12:1,
Walnut Grove had a ratio of 60:1."
It's not just less staff, it's less qualified staff:
"When the Wolves Guard the Sheep,"
by Mariah Adin in Kids and Crime, 28 March 2011
"The difficulties at Jena were attributed primarily to staffing
deficiencies: a lack of stable leadership, high turnover, excessive
overtime, and inadequate training. These faults are common in private
corrections, with staff turnover running almost three times higher,
on average, than at public correctional facilities.
Fewer and less qualified staff produce problems of violence,
such as the incident the FBI is investigating in Boise, Idaho
at the so-called Gladiator School.
"While performance problems of such severe magnitude are not yet common in
the private prison industry, violent incidents are not isolated to a few
facilities. A recent survey of private prisons by James Austin compared
the rates of major incidents in private and public prisons of comparable
security levels and found that private prisons had fifty percent more
inmate-on-staff assaults and two-thirds more inmate-on-inmate assaults.
These ominous signs are fueling a mounting perception that in pursuit
of profits, private prison managers are heedless of the essential
requirements necessary for delivery of safe and humane correctional
"Prison Privatization: Recent Developments in The United States"
by Judith Greene,
A Paper Presented at the International Conference on Penal Abolition:
May 12, 2000.
"Video release prompts FBI prison investigation:
Critics claim the privately run Idaho Correctional Center
uses inmate-on-inmate violence", by
Rebecca Boone for AP, 30 November 2010
Private prisons in Pennsylvania have been involved in a "kids for cash"
scheme in which a judge was recently sentenced to 28 years for locking
up youths for money.
"Pa. judge gets 28 years in 'kids for cash' case",
Associated Press, 12 August 2011
More comprehensive evidence is difficult to obtain, because, according
to the American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network,
"In 1998 the private prison industry stopped providing information on
assaults, escapes, inmate population, inmate classification, staffing
ratio's, turnover rates, training statistics and virtually all
information that would allow the public to make an informed choice
regarding the privatization of our correctional facilities."
Private Prison Fact Sheet,
American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network, unknown date
In 2007, H.R. 1889, the Private Prison Information Act, got as far
as the House Judiciary Committee, where it died.
As a member of Congress, I suggest that you reintroduce that
or another bill
"To require prisons and other correctional facilities holding Federal
prisoners under a contract with the Federal Government to make the same
information available to the public that Federal prisons and correctional
facilities are required to do by law."
Then you won't have to depend on constituents to ferret out that
information for you, and we'll all know what our tax dollars are
being spent on.
And we would know if savings with private prisons were genuine.