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Florida: Great response to APCTO.

The Tallahassee Democrat
December 29, 2004

For-profit prisons hardly a good value

Re: "Private prisons provide valuable competition" (letters, Dec. 24).

I read with astonishment the for-profit prison industry's response to a brief, factual letter by David Murrell. APCTO's Michael Lobue alleges Murrell presented "a bold misrepresentation of facts and misleading assertions in making a case against private prisons."

Murrell's letter was clearly based on facts in the public record. Conversely, Lobue makes farcical claims loosely based on tautological and industry-sponsored "research." While admitting "documented corruption" in the industry exists, Lobue laughably blames this on public employees.

His own member corporation, Wackenhut, claimed the relationship of APCTO linchpin CCA with Charles Thomas was "a clear conflict of interest." Not only was Thomas fined $20,000 but the Correctional Privatization Commission's Mark Hodges forged documents to cover his own related conflicts. He was in turn fined $10,000. After resigning his tenured University of Florida post, Thomas joined APCTO as director of research.

Lobue's claims include citing a "recent" (2-year-old) study alleging that the mere existence of for-profit prisons "reduces overall corrections budgets." That study implied, but was unable to establish, a causal relationship. Rather, hard-pressed states have cut back on rehabilitative programs, thus lowering per-diem inmate costs.

Frank Smith
Bluff City, Kansas

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