Gov. Finds Money For Private Prison Amid Cuts
TennCare, Higher Education To See Deep Cuts
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has found about $31 million in recurring money to keep open a privately run prison in West Tennessee while making deep cuts to other areas such as TennCare and higher education.
Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen had sought to close the Hardeman County Correctional Facility at Whiteville by December, but lawmakers added funding to run the prison through July 31.
Haslam in his budget address last week announced plans to restore permanent funding for the facility operated by the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America.
The governor last week told reporters that he determined that closing the prison wasn’t “the right thing to do for the corrections system.”
According to the governor’s schedule, Haslam met with CCA officials at the Capitol the week before his budget address.
Isn’t it amazing how we’re able to “find” $31 million for the things we feel are important? Especially after a nice little meeting with the Nashville-based CCA, a big campaign donor? Truly the coincidences are astounding.
And remember this?
Tony Grande, chief development officer of CCA, said the private corrections company supports candidates that are likely to pursue the sort of public-private partnerships that match its philosophy and business interests. He said donations aren’t to assure specific business — CCA argues its value to the state does that — and that the support for Haslam reflected his positions and viability. The institute reports CCA giving Haslam $23,750 and McWherter $5,570.
Yes where is the “public” part of this “public-private partnership,” I’m just curious? Would that be in the form of our tax dollars going straight to CCA’s pockets? Is that what makes this a “partnership”?
A nice little detail is that the Hardeman County prison employs 350 people. Prisons are jobs! As is war. I love Christian America! Government jobs are bad, but privatization of public services paid for by tax dollars is good. Even when you don’t have the money.
When Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen tried to close the prison last year and was overruled by the Republican legislature, he quipped:
Bredesen called the Legislature’s decision to overrule him on closing the two facilities “a case of everybody wants to run government like a business until you actually run government like a business.”
Oh, snap! I seem to recall a foul-mouthed blogger pointing out a few problems with our privatized prison industry last year. Now we have CCA meeting with the governor to make sure it gets a nice return on its nearly $24,000 investment. I mean, check out these programs on the chopping block:
All the commissioners brought their own lists of vanishing programs. Community treatment centers for the mentally ill and alcohol- and drug-addicted would lose funding. The Department of Children’s Services would lose 162 jobs. Six state park swimming pools would close. So would two state golf courses. A prison sex offender treatment program would end, along with convict “community service” work crews. Inspectors who ensure the state’s groundwater is safe would lose their jobs.
If cuts in mental health services go through as scheduled, “We’re off the cliff, sir. We’ve got major problems,” said Mental Health Commissioner Doug Varney, who also likened it to an amputation. “With this safety net, we can’t just keep cutting little pieces of the fingers off,” Varney told the governor. “Pretty soon the hands won’t work. I think we may have to decide to cut a finger off here or there, and that’s what we do. At least the hands will still work.”
No, no, Varney was looking at it all wrong. Look at it from the perspective of CCA’s philosophy and business interests! Not the peoples’! Sillies! We’ll just round up all the addicts and mentally ill and throw them in a private, taxpayer-funded facility (and make sure we don’t have community service programs which might eat into our incarceration rate). Problem solved! Why bother and try to get people off of drugs or clean up the meth labs or have social workers who can make sure people stay on their antipsychotics? Community service is so last century! Who needs social workers watching out for kids, or facilities that keep children occupied in the summer? What happens when we don’t have those things? Thinking … thinking …
Yeah you know, it’s so much more profitable for CCA if we just wait for such people to commit a crime: the mentally ill, the drug addicts, the youth with no place to go and nothing to do in the summertime. Let’s wait for them to get in trouble and then we can throw them in jail. Amiright? It’s not about people it’s about CCA!
If we can miraculously “find” $31 million for CCA but we can never find any money for mental health clinics or drug treatment programs, what else could it be?