As a non-partisan citizen of this country, it is extremely frustrating to watch and hear the current news cycle that has become enamored with some of the most outlandish ideas and concepts from both political parties. One of these extreme concepts was presented by a Republican candidate for the New York governorship, Carl Paladino. (2010)
Mr. Paladino stated that he wanted to “transform some New York prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients, where they could work in state-sponsored jobs, get employment training and take lessons in ‘personal hygiene’.” When questioned about his idea that is gaining some steam in the Tea Party, Mr. Paladino stated that “he doesn’t want to send welfare recipients to prison dormitories- it would be voluntary.” Wow! So, there you have it- a voluntary program to that will create more financial strain on the state of New York, train welfare recipients without a defined scope and purpose and teach the respective individuals how to clean themselves.
Too many single mothers, individuals who have lost their jobs in this stagnant economy and the self-responsible poor who have tried to pick themselves up, what a derogatory, condescending and indifferent proposal that has been presented by Mr. Paladino. Most non-partisan historians would agree that the welfare system that dates back to the 1930s during the Great Depression has helped countless families and individuals overcome difficult and destitute times. In 1996, under President Clinton, the bipartisan Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 changed the nation’s welfare system into one requiring work in exchange for time-limited cash assistance and created the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.
Many critics continue to question this legislation. But, with over 40 million people in the United States currently living at or below poverty thresholds, the reformed welfare system is still sorely needed. To be sure, continual accountability and oversight of the TANF program is needed, as there will always be those who will try to do the opposite of what is right. But, to isolate millions of people in neo-housing projects (i.e., prison dorms) to implement actions that are already required by law is simply not a wise mechanism to solve any problems associated with the TANF program in New York or anywhere else. And, as a candidate for governor, Mr. Paladino should know that his proposal is not sound from at least three perspectives.
Prison Break: Budget Crises Drive Reform, But Private Jails Press On
CCA—the largest company in the nation’s private prison industry—had made the first-ever outright purchase of a state penitentiary. Now it wanted more, striking while the leg-iron was hot. Until that sale, for more than three decades various for-profit incarceration businesses had only contracted to run state and local lockups or built new private ones themselves. The CCA poured $72.7 million into Ohio’s cash-starved coffers to buy the Lake Erie Correctional Institution.
Then the CCA dangled $250 million in front of officials in other states agonizing over how to squeeze dollars from dirt in a down economy. In return for sacks of cash, the company wants 20- to 30-year contracts for housing criminals. And the already controversial full privatization also requires states to grind out convictions and sentences for two or three decades at today’s pace and severity, maintaining a guaranteed 90 percent occupancy rate—calibrating the wheels of justice to fit a profit-margin spreadsheet.
Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Owen says the company has never promoted criminal legislation, including within ALEC: “It was always, in my recollection, a passive membership that permitted our representative to observe dialogue by decision-makers.”
But once ALEC had firmly embraced initiatives to lower incarceration rates, the CCA soon quit the organization, in 2010. The company would have severed ties earlier but had prepaid for the year, Owen says, noting that with digital, online information it is now easy to “track and monitor trends” without being involved in ALEC.
In addition to the rub of ALEC’s redirected criminal justice priorities, other longtime private prison advocates now question the CCA’s call for a 90 percent occupancy rate in prison purchases. They include libertarians and free-market apostles who embraced the Reagan administration’s revolutionary drives for both privatization of government products and services as well as increasingly harsh laws. “Clearly it would be a very bad public policy and tie the hands of public officials,” says Marc Levin, who runs the justice initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a libertarian think tank that added incarceration to its agenda in 2005. “I’m sure Marriott hotels would like a government guarantee for a 90 percent occupancy rate.”
To Continue Reading:
- It is just amazing some of these outlandish ideas. Except that CCA is not an idea, it is real and it wants to make profits from prisons being full across America. What business wouldn’t want 20 year contracts with each state with a 90 percent occupancy rate? That welfare recipients might want to go to prison may not end up being so outlandish after all if they have to fill these prisons up. Prisons for profit already look at citizens with a dollar sign over their head. That means any way they can find an excuse to lock you up.