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by Hannah McCartney 03.05.2012
Posted In: Governor, Government, Ethics at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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ACLU of Ohio Protests Privatizing State Prisons

Says it will add to state budges, hurt public safety and lead to unnecessary incarcerations

There are certain institutions in the U.S. that we don't like to think of as strictly profit-seeking endeavors. It can be difficult to swallow that (supposedly) do-good establishments like retirement homes, textbook companies and hospitals exist to bring in revenue rather than serve the needs of a community without waiver. In Ohio, one state prison is already that a business and others could soon follow suit. 

In September of 2011, Ohio became the first state in the nation to sell a state prison facility to a private prison company when the Lake Erie Correctional Institute in Ashtabula County was sold to the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest prison operator, for $72.7 million.

The idea to privatize Ohio prisons was concocted by Gov. John Kasich in an attempt to fill an $8 billion hole in Ohio's budget. The sale brought in an extra $50 million to use in balancing Ohio's prison budget.

Kasich's budget strategy included an overhaul of Ohio's Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, which means that private prison facility owners would actually benefit from more incarcerations. Now, CCA has made an offerto  48 U.S. states to buy and privatize state prisons. The offer, the Corrections Investment Initiative, outlines CCA's plan to spend up to $250 million on state, local and federal entities and then manage the facilities. According to the CCA's statement from Harley Lappin, Chief Corrections Officer at CCA, they're only interested in buying facilities that are willing to sign over rights of ownership to the CCA for a minimum of 20 years, and states must agree to keep the facilities at least 90 percent full.


With six million Americans in the corrections system, the U.S. already has the highest rates of incarceration in the world — including per capita and in absolute terms surpassing countries like Iran, China and Russia. CCA'S website glorifies its mission as noble; a video on the home page shows a patriotic, proudly waving flag. Text touts its strategies as forward-thinking and altruistic, noting that they are "protecting public safety, employing the best people in solid careers, rehabilitating inmates, giving back to communities, and bringing innovative security to government corrections."

The ACLU of Ohio has issued a statement strongly opposing the change; it argues that privatizing state prisons will add debt to state budges, hurt public safety and lead to more unnecessary incarcerations. According to "Prisons for Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization," a report published by ACLU-Ohio, privately-run prisons only offer a short-term infusion of cash, not long-term savings. "Cost savings in privately run facilities [like those run by CCA] are achieved by cutting the pay of workers," says Mike Bricker, ACLU Director of Communications and Public Policy. Corrections officers in private facilities make significantly less and receive far less benefits than those in public facilities. This difference, he says, results in an astronomically higher turnover rate in private facilities. "When something bad happens, they leave," he says.

The high turnover rate makes for a consistently less experienced staff, which means officers aren't as well-prepared when a bad situation does arise. He cites an example when cutting corners came at a high price: A CCA-run Youngstown facility that opened in 1997 brought in 1,700 violent inmates from Washington, D.C. at what was supposed to be a medium-security prison. Over the course of a year, there were 16 stabbings, two murders and six escapes; the situation became such a concern to the community that Youngstown sued CCA in 1998 and the facility was shut down.

According to Brickner, the smallest incident is enough to negate the short-term revenue from privatizing prisons; when the main objective is profit, privatized prisons want to book non-violent offenders who won't be in facilities for a long period of time. That means cells become overcrowded when minor offenders could be in rehabilitation, and extremely violent detainees tend to be managed improperly.

"It is inherently wrong to allow private businesses to make a profit off the incarceration of others," said Brickner in an ACLU press release. “Our state’s prison system is bloated, and private corporations have a vested financial interest to ensure our prisons remain full. If state officials have any hope of shrinking our prison population, we must implement transformative criminal justice reform policies and reject interests that grow our prison system.”

Brickner suggests that concerned citizens contact their elected representatives to express their opposition to privatizing prisons. Read the ACLU's full report on privatizing prisons here.

 
 
by Danny Cross 02.08.2012
Posted In: Governor, Environment, Humor at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Kasich Being Kasich

Governor’s real persona is more offensive than his political one

Ohio Gov. John Kasich yesterday delivered his second “State of the State” speech, a reportedly hilarious mockery of political tradition that ranged from harmlessly wacky to straight-up sexist, while making a pit stop in the “Parkinson’s disease is funny” category.

Kasich’s apparent intention was to announce a new broadband plan, introduce an award honoring courageous Ohioans and try to say that his plans for shale drilling in the Northeastern part of the state are totally going to respect the environment.

But the 90-minute speech in a Steubenville elementary school auditorium included far more Kasich bloopers than usual. The Enquirer included in the first paragraph of its recap Kasich’s references to “non-bluetongue cows going to Turkey” and “a dream about Jerry Seinfeld in the back seat of a car.” The AP described the speech as “peppered with Kasich's usual array of off-the-cuff, sometimes puzzling remarks.

Those familiar with Kasich’s governing style will find these descriptions to be only slightly surprising. Remember last January when he called a police officer an “idiot” in a speech for giving him a speeding ticket? Or when he mocked Ohio’s drivers license for being pink (PINK IS SO GAY!)? Or that time he told a group of business owners that he wanted to make Ohio cool because the executives at LexisNexis said all their employees would rather live on the coasts instead of sucky-ass Ohio?

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by Danny Cross 11.28.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Headline: "Stadium tax rebate favors wealthy." Analysis: "No shit." Owners of the county's most-expensive homes reportedly receive more savings from the property tax rollback than they pay in the sales tax increase that was supposed to pay for the sports stadiums. An Enquirer analysis of last year's property tax payout found that the half-cent sales tax increase amounts to a maximum of $192 annually, while some high-value homeowners received tax rebates of $1,175 or more.

• Million-dollar homes account for less than 1 percent of households, yet they received nearly 5 percent of the total rebates — or one out of every $20 paid out.

• One out of four homeowners - those with a home worth $200,000 or more - got $8.8 million in rebates - more than half the total rollback.

• The median Hamilton County homeowner with a property worth $106,700 is eligible to get a $50.15 rebate under the rollback.

• The 132 Hamilton County homeowners with houses worth $2.5 million or more get at least $1,175 apiece.

• Property owners with homes worth $150,000 or less account for nearly six out of 10 households, but collectively they received less than 23 percent of the benefits.

County commissioners have four days to tell the auditor to go ahead and tax homeowners at the previous rate, but Chris Monzel and Todd Portune are up for reelection this year and won't dare change take it away from the powerful rich people.

[Correction: Monzel is not up for reelection.]

Said former commissioner David Pepper:"At its core, the property tax rollback creates a reverse-Robin Hood scheme, where middle-class homeowners and renters are not only the ones paying for the stadium, but also footing the bill for a tax break for high-value property owners. Those high-end property owners are not paying for the stadium at all."

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by Danny Cross 11.08.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Happy Election Day! It looks like SB 5 is headed for a big defeat even though Gov. Kasich last night told a bunch of East Side Tea Partiers how cool it would be if Issue 2 passed, while a union representative told opponents of the bill that it was about to get “shoved down the throats of John Kasich and the Republicans.

The Hamilton County Administrator yesterday said “sorry homeowners, but our stadium deficit will not allow us to offer the tax credit Republicans said would make up for your part of the stadium sales tax.” Commissioners Todd Portune and Chris Monzel today said they're going to include the credit even though they don't know how yet. Hopefully they can figure it out soon so they can work on adding public housing to the suburbs before the county gets sued by the Feds.

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by Danny Cross 10.20.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Approximately 50 Occupy Cincinnati protesters attended yesterday's City Council meeting to testify against Piatt Park's 10 p.m. closing time. Negotiations between the city and protesters is ongoing, according to reports, but no agreement was made yesterday after protesters turned down an offer of a new place to stay overnight and the city declined to let the group stay in the park under new restrictions.

Councilman Chris Bortz and Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz, both of whom have connections to property along the park, have brought up the possibility that if protesters aren't removed that someday the city will have to let the Ku Klux Klan camp out. Ghiz yesterday was criticized by protesters for posting on Facebook the private information of two people who wrote emails criticizing her (more on that here). CityBeat reflected on the situation again here.

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by Danny Cross 09.30.2011
Posted In: News, COAST, Public Policy, Governor at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Opponents of Ohio's new restrictive election law have gotten it postponed until next year at the earliest, with a potential repeal of House Bill 194 in November ending it before it begins.

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by Danny Cross 09.29.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Ohio's new concealed-carry law will take effect tomorrow, allowing Second Amendment lovers the opportunity to reach into their pocket and feel the cold, smooth feel of safety while enjoying a non-alcoholic beverage at a bar or restaurant in Ohio. Seriously, y'all better not be drinking or the liberals will tell on you before you can get buzzed enough to go outside and fire a couple of funny shots up into the air.

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by Danny Cross 09.19.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Bill Cunningham is still trying to do TV, even though he looks like a doll who's come to life to murder people. This report explains how his new spray tan, hair coloring and expensive suits have contributed.

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by 05.06.2011
 
 

Driehaus Plans Budget Meeting

Fresh from a successful effort at stopping a budget amendment to block the replacement of a deteriorating Cincinnati bridge, State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-31st District) will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the Ohio budget with constituents.

Driehaus marshaled forces in the Ohio House this week after she noticed an amendment that affected the $66.5 million project had quietly been added to the state budget bill by State Rep. Bob Peterson (R-85thDistrict).

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by 04.20.2011
Posted In: Governor, 2010 Election, Republicans, Government at 11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Kasich Gets an 'F' Across the State

If three unscientific, online polls are any indication, Ohio Gov. John Kasich probably shouldn't make plans for a second term.

The Columbus Dispatch, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Dayton's WRGT-TV (Channel 45) have each had polls asking people to rate Kasich's performance during his first 100 days in office and the results are overwhelming and the same: Most disapprove of his performance or give him an “F.”

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