Thursday, November 5, 2009

Objection to the Building of another Oklahoma Prison -
"Christian" Prison to be built in Wakita, Ok and to use Prison Industry under Federal PIECP Program

November 4, 2009 - Corrections Concepts, Inc., a Dallas based non-profit is working to get Wakita, Oklahoma to sponsor the building of a new private prison. The facility would be the first all Christian prison in the U.S. Volunteering inmates would be supervised by Christian guards, and staffers. In addition, the inmates would work at the facility in a prison industry under the federal PIECP program. However, Corrections Concepts intends to not abide by the PIECP mandatory requirements of paying inmate workers in the program prevailing wages - instead choosing to pay them federal minimum wages - for their labor.

This avoidance of paying prevailing wages was first presented by Corrections Concepts founder, Bill Robinson to Texas Governor Bush in 1995 when Bush's support was sought. Bush so liked the idea of combining faith-based community initiatives with prison industries for prison inmates, he authored Resolutions there in Texas making it easier for such initiative programs to get state tax dollars for their operations. Once in the White House, Bush brought the concept with him, establishing White House Offices of Faith-Based Community Initiative satellite offices in every Federal Department and Agency including the Department of Justice that oversees the PIECP program. Bush did this by Executive Orders within days of taking office in 2000.

PIECP-Violations opposes the building of such a "Christian" prison in Wakita, Oklahoma - not on religious grounds, rather due to the stated intention of not abiding by the federal PIECP requirements regarding the planned prison industries. Too many prison industries and their private sector partners are already taking advantage of this important program, by not paying prevailing wages to the inmate workers. This allows for more corporate and prison industry profits at the expense of the work force. In addition it provides these violators with an unfair advantage over private sector companies who manufacture the same or similar products on the open markets. The PIE Program allows prison industries to sell and distribute prisoner made goods upon the same markets as private sector manufacturers and to openly compete for private sector market shares for those products. The prison industries are already disadvantaging the private sector competitors by giving their "partners" leases of huge prison facilities for $1.00 a year, no health insurance, no workers unemployment premiums, no paid vacations or other perks the private sector competing companies must provide to their employees. This results in the loss of private sector jobs to those citizens in desperate need of keeping their jobs, by transferring those jobs behind prison fences and walls and giving them to inmates.

Currently - as stated elsewhere on this site - there is a serious lack of actual, effective oversight of PIECP operations nationwide. The Bureau of Justice Assistance has outsourced this oversight to a private non-profit "Association" - the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA). There can be no real oversight or compliance with the PIE Program's rules and laws while an Association made up of the prison administrators, managers and vendors involved in the program oversee themselves. The NCIA is made up of just that - vendors to, administrators, managers and employees of the participating PIECP industries operated in each state.

The residents and citizens of Wakita, Oklahoma should review the PIECP Guidelines and ask pointed and specific questions of Corrections Concepts, Inc. about the proposed Prison Industry they plan on opening at the prison complex. These residents should know what the program is about and whether or not the prison industry will result in the loss of private sector jobs or unfairly compete with local Oklahoma Private Sector manufacturers of similar products. This must be done to protect Oklahoma jobs from disappearing behind the prison fences.

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