Friday, March 07, 2008
Prison construction is booming in the USA, and New Mexico has been the guinea pig for the largest of the private prison corporations such as CCA, Cornell, GEO (aka Wackenhut, Group 4 Falk) and MTC. In NM more than 40% of our prisoners are in private, for-profit prisons and jails, while the national average is less than 10%. Wexford, the former scandal ridden medical provider, and Aramark, delivering poor quality food - have had their hands full of cash from our state coffers but having been proven less than adequate in providing these services, eventually lost their contracts earlier this year. A state commissioned study into levels of violence found that Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs – a GEO facility - had the highest number of injuries among all the state prisons. During one period – from December ’98 until August ’99, five inmates and one guard were killed in NM – all in GEO facilities. In addition, NM has the highest number of prisoners in solitary confinement – a whopping 25% of the male prison population is confined 23 hours per day, and 24 hours per day on weekends. New Mexico is also top of the scale in this regard, with Texas following second at 10% by comparison. Furthermore, we have among the highest rates of recidivism – at least 70% - in the nation elaborated further in this article.
All the “privateers” have their hands in the prison potty here – as do many of our elected officials. Private for-profit lock-ups are nothing new … they’ve been around now for more than a couple of decades. The Hamilton County jail in Chattanooga, Tennessee was the first local jail in the U.S. to “go private.” CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) was awarded the contract in 1984 to operate the “secure adult facility.” And a few years later, CCA built the first private prison in New Mexico, which opened in Grants in 1989 under the administration of Governor Garrey Carruthers. It is only since the Gary Johnson administration, however, that the prison corporations have created a whopping boom-economy in the marketing and trade of human flesh, as our State so clearly exemplifies....(Click here for remainder of Sun News Santa Fe article).