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Colorado: Letters on great expose’

Jan 6, 2005

Big bidness: I hope Alan Prendergast's "Maxed Out" commands some attention from both government officials and Colorado taxpayers. The privatization (outsourcing) of government jobs to the lowest corporate bidder is a bad deal for the public and another outrageous example of putting profit over people. State Representative Laine "Buffie" McFadyen is one legislator who has taken notice and spoken out against this; let's hope others follow her lead.

Your report should continue to sound the alarm for what is fast becoming a wide government concern. In the federal system, legislation to outsource government jobs is in full gear, so corporations can get richer and career positions become low-paying service jobs. For the first time in our history, many Bureau of Prisons facilities have been placed on the "commercial list," which means many of the jobs are no longer considered "inherently governmental." If running a prison is not inherently governmental, then what is? It is a sad reality that corporate green rules the day.

Coverage in Westword will confirm that government-run prisons are not immune to violence, but the record shows that well-trained staff in career positions far out-perform these rent-a-cop McPrisons. The public should not take their safety for granted. Running prisons is best left to well-trained experts. This issue is not going away any time soon. We will continue to speak out and educate the public and our elected officials. Thank you for the timely report.

Timothy D. Allport, president
American Federation of Government Employees
Council of Prison Locals, Local 709

A past-due Bill: Alan Prendergast's otherwise fine article about the deplorable state of Colorado's prisons downplays a few key facts. Governor Bill Owens and his Republican cohorts have created this mess for two reasons: to bolster Owens's tough-on-crime credentials so that he can run for president, and to boost the economy in the state's economic backwaters, especially in rural Republican enclaves. Half of the DOC's 19,000 inmates are eligible for parole, but why rehabilitate and release them when so many people are profiting handsomely from the cons' misery? Half the inmates are black or Chicano, who are non-entities in the GOP scheme of things. At a recent parole-board meeting, 81 of 83 inmates were denied release to community corrections, and those who must be paroled are set up to fail on the outside, then sent back inside the walls after perfunctory furloughs. Prisons are jam-packed because Owens and his ilk want them that way.

I fervently ask that the Colorado Legislature appoint a commission to study the whole can of worms. Members might ask why so many Mexicanos are being locked up instead of being deported. Why are we concentrating people with tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C in unsanitary hellholes? When they eventually must be released, they spread disease across the landscape. Check out the Crowley County commissioners. They freely admit that the DOC has been their dying community's economic savior. Yet at what price?

Pablo Mora Pueblo

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