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New Hampshire: Letter to the editor.
Don’t offer public safety for sale

Regarding New Hampshire’s decision to investigate using Corrections Corporation of America to privatize the state’s prison system:

Corrections Corporation of America has one of the most sordid histories in the "Dungeons for Dollars" industry.

After several murders and dozens of assaults at their facility in Youngstown, Ohio, representatives of CCA were called before U.S. District Judge William Bell to answer questions about the security classification of the inmates at Youngstown. CCA was only allowed to have inmates classified as medium security in the Youngstown prison.

On July 22, 1998, CCA assured Judge Bell that all maximum security inmates had been removed form the prison. Just three days later on July 25, in broad daylight six inmates escaped from that facility, four of them where convicted murderers.

In Tulsa, Okla., CCA Warden Jim Cooke hired Eugene Pendleton to run a treatment program there. Cooke knew Pendleton from their days together in the Alabama prison system. Cooke was an officer while Pendleton was serving 17 years for the murder of an Auburn football player.

Cooke failed to tell anyone in Oklahoma that Pendleton was a convicted murderer. Pendleton is now doing time for raping two inmates in his care while at Tulsa.

It’s not just CCA; assaults on staff in private prisons are 49 percent higher than in public prisons and inmate on inmate assaults are 66 percent higher. It won’t be the corporate Executives from CCA’s headquarters in Nashville, TN getting attacked, it will be the citizens of New Hampshire.

Escape rates from "secure" private prisons are nearly four times higher than their public counterparts. Turnover rates of security personal average 53 percent in private prisons compared to only 16 percent in public.

There is not one yardstick by which correctional excellence can be measured where the private prison industry comes out ahead, unless you consider stuffing shareholders pockets with blood money a form correctional excellence. Public safety should never be for sale.

Brian Dawe
Executive director
Corrections USA
Thayne, Wyo.

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