Saturday, August 20, 2016

Private For-Profit Prisons Are Following Wasserman Schultz's Career Down The Toilet


With the dreadful, odious Wasserman Schultz falling from power and fighting for her political life, some of the criminal elements she has protected are losing their battles against the public. Predatory loan sharks, one of the foundations of her rise to power (payday lenders have given her $68,100 in direct pay-for-play bribes since she was elected to Congress), are battling for survival without her now. And one of her other big boosters, the private prison industry is also falling on its face without her ability to use her clout to protect them. Thursday Matt Zapotosky reported in the Washington Post that the Department of Justice is ending its relationship with private prisons, having concluded that Debbie's pals are "both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government."

After Wasserman Schultz was cornered and caught like a rat taking bribes from the Corrections Corp of America and other for-profit prison operators, she tried to cover her tracks. Starting with the 2014 cycle she stopped taking bribes from them. The private prison industry's biggest advocates-- and the ones who get the most payoffs from them now-- are Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Diane Black (R-TN), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), John Culbertson (R-TX) in the House and crooked senators Rob Portman (R-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), Bob Corker (R-TN), Dean Heller (R-NV), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) John Cornyn (R-TX) and John Boozman (R-AR). These people have opposed the bill banning private prisons that was introduced by Bernie Sanders in the Senate and by Raúl Grijalva, Keith Ellison and Bobby Rush in the House last September. Of the nearly 1.6 million people in federal and state prisons in 2013, 8.4 percent were in private, for-profit prisons. That includes over 41,159 federal prisoners in private facilities and 91,885 state prisoners in private facilities.

"We cannot fix our criminal justice system," Sanders said when introducing his bill, "if corporations are allowed to profit from mass incarceration." Grijalva added that "Our corrections system exists to uphold justice-- not to house innocent refugees or feed the greed of corporate interests. By treating prisoners and detainees as a means to a profit margin, we’re incentivizing jailors to lobby for ever more inmates, and for inmates to be denied even the basic staples they’re entitled to. The result is a corrections system collapsing under its own weight as the prison industry gets rich and countless innocent men, women and children are ensnared in their trap."

Thursday when the Department of Justice made their announcement, Sanders that that "Our criminal justice system is broken and in need of major reforms. The Justice Department’s plan to end its use of private prisons is an important step in the right direction. It is exactly what I campaigned on as a candidate for president. It is an international embarrassment that we put more people behind bars than any other country on earth. Due in large part to private prisons, incarceration has been a source of major profits to private corporations. Study after study after study has shown private prisons are not cheaper, they are not safer, and they do not provide better outcomes for either the prisoners or the state. We have got to end the private prison racket in America as quickly as possible. Our focus should be on keeping people out of jail and making sure they stay out when they are released.  This means funding jobs and education not more jails and incarceration."

Meanwhile Bloomberg reported that private prison stocks, which have been following Wasserman Schultz's career down the toilet, tanked Thursday with the Department of Justice announcement.

Corrections Corp. fell 35 percent to $17.57 at the close of trading, the real estate investment trust’s biggest drop since its initial public offering in 1997. GEO Group plummeted 40 percent to $19.51, also the largest decline in its 22-year history as a publicly traded company. The stocks pared losses of about 50 percent as analysts said the impact may be less severe than initially expected. Corrections Corp. climbed to $18.85 in after-hours trading after saying that today’s decision relates to facilities that represent just 7 percent of its business. GEO Group rose to $20.72.

...Corrections Corp., the largest U.S. owner of private prisons, owned or controlled 49 facilities and 25 halfway houses, and managed an additional 11 sites owned by its government partners as of June 30, according to its second-quarter regulatory filing. At GEO Group, U.S. government agencies accounted for 45 percent of revenue in 2015, according to the company’s annual report. GEO Group has been trying to win new clients and also operates facilities in Australia, South Africa and the U.K.
So far this cycle, the biggest recipients of legalistic bribes from Corrections Corp are shown on this chart from OpenSecrets, based on data from the FEC:

None of these crooked politicians are willing to give back the blood money or donate it to charity. Reached by phone and asked if Lamar Smith would return the bribes from Corrections Corp., a spokesperson for one of Texas' sleaziest bribe vacuums cursed up a storm, using words we don't publish at DWT. Tim Canova, the progressive Democrat running against Wasserman Schultz in south Florida, has a platform plank dealing with the for-profit prison system and how to right the wrongs, #DebtTrapDebbie and her self-serving colleagues on both sides of the aisle have caused.

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