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Washington: Another article on CSC/Fed detention facility.
Tideflats Prison Gets Greenlight To Open

By John Larson
April 8, 2004

A privately operated detention facility on Tacoma's Tideflats has gotten the green light from the City of Tacoma to open for business, but a corrections expert told the City Council this week to expect problems once it does.

Correctional Services Corporation, a Florida-based company that operates prisons across the nation, held a grand opening ceremony for Northwest Detention Center on April 7.

City officials have granted CSC occupancy permits need to begin accepting inmates.

Brian Dawe, Executive Director of Corrections USA, blasted private prisons in general and CSC in particular during a meeting with Council members on April 6.

Dawe told the Council inmate on inmate assaults in private prisons are 60% higher than in government-run prisons, while assaults on staff are 49% higher.

They have one escape for every 2,513 inmates, while in public prisons the ratio is one per every 9,118 inmates.

Guards at private prisons on average have 44% less training than in public prisons, and the turnover rate is 53%.

Tacoma Police will have to respond to assaults, Dawe told the Council. The City can expect to pay for increased overtime for officers, and costs for investigating and prosecuting these crimes, he said.

The concept of private prisons is seriously flawed according to Dawe. While public prisons may have the intention to rehabilitate inmates, private prisons operate on a profit motive. Reoffenders are repeat customers, which the private company needs to generate revenue, he said. "Public safety should never be about profit. Public safety should never be for sale."

No representatives of CSC or Department of Homeland Security were in attendance at the meeting.

Dawe was brought in from Wyoming by Tim Smith, chair of Bill of Rights Defense Committee of Tacoma. A vocal critic of the facility, Smith told the Council his group wants to assist City officials in dealing with issues related to it.

"Don't think we're here to cause trouble. We are here to help," he said.

Council member Tom Stenger told his colleagues he had toured the facility recently and was impressed by the building. Dawe replied that it is the people who work in and manage a prison, not the building itself, that determines the problems.

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