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Colorado: Letter writer critical of Cornell (with a little help from PCI).

Oct. 2, 2004
Concerned Citizen president responds to last week's Letter to the Editor
Dear Editor,

Last week a Letter to the Editor by Jim Stagner was submitted to the concerning a document distributed by the Concerned Citizens of Lamar. The document, entitled "Left at the Altar - Cornell's History of Broken Promises," was compiled by the Private Corrections Institute, Inc. ( www.CorrectionsInstitute.-org , which is a service organization that provides factual information, news, and reports about prison privatization around the world. The document contains vital and factual information about the track record of Cornell Companies, Inc., listing newspapers and other sources of information. The document was provided so that Prowers County residents would be able to make an informed decision about the proposed prison.

The Concerned Citizens of Lamar would like to respond to some of the comments made in last week's Letter to the Editor. In reference to the document, the writer said, "I feel it is only adding fuel to an already volatile fire." That comment is in itself inflammatory. Expressing alternative views is a part of American history. More importantly, providing information in opposition to the prison committee is not mutually exclusive of working together. The CCL's proposal is to put the issue on a ballot - the city council indicated that they would work with us, but they have not. The CCL repeatedly asked for a public debate, and the prison committee refused. If anyone is fueling the fire, it is the city council and the prison committee by ignoring any alternative view.

The writer commented that many of the cases in the document involved juvenile facilities. We don't quite understand the writer's concern - does the writer think Cornell's adult facilities will be mysteriously free of the scandals and mismanagement that have plagued their juvenile facilities? A lot of Cornell's facilities are for juveniles, so any examination of the company's track record will necessarily involve juvenile facilities.

The writer suggested that human error was responsible for Cornell's "fiscal and financial misappropriation of funds." We believe that Cornell's problems go beyond simple human error. It is one thing to claim that one was misled by accountants or one's company "lost" $8 million, but it is quite another thing to make those claims while the company is under an active SEC investigation. According to the Private Corrections Institute, Cornell Companies, Inc. is presently under the threat of a shareholder revolt, so we don't believe that the company "handled all the discrepancies and allocations swiftly," as was suggested by the writer. The writer also said, "If we see that there is a potential for problems, then we are one step ahead of the game and can monitor the situation as it progresses." The writer needs to read the draft Memorandum of Understanding between the prison committee and Cornell. There is absolutely no mechanism that allows for enforceable oversight of Cornell's operations.

In closing, we would like to repeat that it is vital for Prowers County residents to be informed of the facts. It is essential that we vote on this issue.

Respectfully submitted,

Verdell Howard, President
Concerned Citizens of Lamar,1413,121~7975~2439859,00.html

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