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Colorado: Judy Greene comes to town.
Private prison expert to speak here

By Karen Vigil
The Pueblo Chieftain

A speaker described as a nationally known private prison expert will speak Thursday at a public forum concerning the WCC facililty to be built at the Pueblo Memorial Airport Industrial Park.

The session is set for 6:30 p.m. at the College Center's Fortino Ballroom on the Pueblo Community College campus.

Judith Greene's appearance is being sponsored by the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, according to Stephen Raher, senior policy analyst of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, a Colorado Springs-based prison watchdog group.

The coalition has filed suit to stop WCC from taking control of the property through the Pueblo City-Council approved sales agree- ment.

Raher said Greene can offer a valuable perspective on the WCC prison plan.

"Essentially, we want to hold a public forum to discuss what information we know about the private prison proposal, especially because City Council has been less than forthcoming . . . (Greene) is a nationally known expert on the track record and performance of private prisons, state issues and the state budget, and what's happening with the state prison system," said Raher.

Greene, in a phone conversation from her New York City home last week, said a good way to learn about her work is to read her chapter in the recent Clarity Press published book, "Capitalist Punishment: Prison Privatization and Human Rights."

As one of several contributing authors in the book, Greene writes about how she says the U.S. private prison experiment has failed.

". . . After 25 years of booming capacity expansion, too many American prisons remain plagued with overcrowding. Understaffing, substandard health care, insufficient programs and human rights abuses are still widespread. However, prison privatization has not only failed to alleviate these problems, the industry has actually produced a much worse record of deprivation, violence and abuse than is found in the public prison system," Greene writes.

Greene maintains that some states no longer are considering private prisons.

"Slackened rates of prison population growth have allowed state-level correctional officials to shy away from further reliance on this very high-risk proposition (privatization). Thankfully, poor performance has not gone totally unnoticed. State-level contracting for new private prisons has ground to a halt. Private prison contracts in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas have ended where chronic underperformance has resulted in serious problems."

Raher said he also will speak about what is happening within the state prison system.

Doug Wilson, Pueblo's chief public defender, will talk about the local prison issues, Raher said.

He said the session will include time for audience questions.

"We're trying to allow a lot of time for questions and answers," he said. That will be an integral part of it."

For questions, call the coalition toll-free at (888) 298-8059, or e-mail

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