Friday, December 3, 2010

INSOURCING - Fighting for reform - can cost you your job.

Bob Sloan (C)2010

Fri Dec 3, 2010

For those visitors who may have missed my Corporatocracy series involving corporations, private prisons and prison labor, below are links to the series.


Bob Sloan's diary :: ::
From 2003 through 2006 the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) was suffering from a severe case of corruption. James Crosby, former Warden at Florida State Prison (FSP-Death Row) had been chosen by Governor Jeb Bush in January 2003 to serve as the new Secretary of the FDOC (a Cabinet poistion). He replaced Michael Moore (no relation) who was leaving under a cloud of controversy and allegations of corruption. The Secretary's position included a permanent seat upon the Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE) Board.

There were many other choices for the Governor to pick from, but he knew Crosby. During both elections where Bush prevailed, Crosby had been a loyal supporter. He held or sponsored many meetings, dinners, parties and fund raisers for his friend Jeb. In addition to Crosby's support, Bush also had the support of another FDOC employee - A.C. Clark. Later Crosby and Clark were often referred to within the FDOC as heads of the "Good Ol' Boy's Club" or collectively, "The Big Boys".

Together Clark and Crosby twisted arms, threatened loss of prime shifts or overtime in efforts to "get out the vote" for Jeb and suggest others within the FDOC make "contributions" to Bush's campaign. In both instances a lot of support and money was garnered from among FDOC staff (22,000+) in support of Jeb Bush. Later many of those FDOC employees voiced complaints that their attendance at fund raisers, contributions and votes were coerced by Clark and Crosby through fear of losing jobs, having their shifts changed or being transferred from one institution to another, if they did not do as "suggested" by the Good Ol' Boys.

So Crosby's selection to head the state's entire Department of Corrections appears to have been based - at least in part - as a reward to Crosby for his political activities related to both Bush campaigns in Florida. Of course Crosby was only too happy to carry A.C. Clark along with him - from within the ranks of FDOC to the very top rung of the department's ladder.

As Governor, Bush later appointed A.C. Clark to the 8th Circuit Judicial Nominations Committee (JNC Appointment). Later, Bush would be unable to recall why he appointed Clark to a four year term on the Committee in response to questions as to why he would appoint a high school drop-out to such a position.

Clark had been with FDOC for years - as had Crosby - and worked at several institutions. During his tenure with DOC he made rank, only to lose it on more than one occasion. Once Crosby took office as Secretary, Clark quickly rose from Major...then Assistant FDOC Regional I Director (NW Florida). He rose through all those ranks from 2003 to 2006. Other "pals" of Crosby and Clark were also promoted over others with more time and rank. Clark was provided a huge home (described as a "Mansion") located on prison property and owned by the State of Florida.

Together Crosby and Clark raised hell in and around Tallahassee, within the FDOC and community. They threw lavish parties and orgies for FDOC officials and politicians on DOC property. Some turned into brawls, with attendees throwing punches at one another. When the media would try to follow up on the rumors they heard, most kept quiet, referring all to interview Crosby. He tried to keep it out of the media but was unsuccessful and several FDOC staff were arrested for the bar fights.

Crosby recruited semi-pro ball players to play for the FDOC softball team. They were hired to work as prison staff, worked no shifts but received paychecks like the rest, for playing ball.

A steroid ring was begun among staff working in the DOC. The tendrils of the drug ring ran from North Florida across the state to many institutions and originated in Egypt.

Clark was at the center of many rumors: that he used money out of an FDOC recycling fund to open a limousine service, that he was strong-arming other staff members to cover his shifts with threats of termination, covering-up

In mid-November, 2005 Crosby had to address the poor behavior of his men and women staff:

"Effective in mid November, Crosby told his top staff to begin spreading the word that employees arrested for an "act of aggression" would automatically be placed on leave while the department investigates the arrest. Crosby also told reporters in mid-November that additional policy changes will be issued soon that will cover other areas of employee misconduct on and off the job."

Crosby should have taken his own words to heart. He didn't know it then, but he and the others were already under intense FDLE and F.B.I. joint investigations for corruption, taking kickbacks and embezzling funds from the recycling program and misuse of inmate labor. It was later learned that the investigations were begun in 2003.

It is inconceivable that anyone committing such rampant corruption and abuses of power was without knowledge of the corruption ongoing within PRIDE, when he held a seat on the Board. He ignored all of the information I and others provided him with about PRIDE's state and federal violations, complaints of the formation of the spin-offs used for money laundering, wages and reduced wages of inmates, that also reduced the money taken in by the FDOC for room and board deductions from those wages. He ignored all of our requests and complaints...yet in 2005 when the IG's Audit on PRIDE was released, Crosby publicly stated that from the time he became Secretary and became a member of PRIDE's Board, he had reservations about the business practices, formation of the spin-offs and accounting procedures employed by PRIDE. He further alleged that he brought all of that to the attention of the Governor and Legislators. He knew how to "spin" the facts, for sure.

Throughout the scandals, investigations and a multitude of calls for Governor Bush to fire Crosby, he refused and instead had Crosby's back right up until February 2006. The formal investigations involving all of the corruption in FDOC were completed after the first of the year and A.C. Clark was arrested and Bush could no longer keep the lid on and ordered Crosby to Resign.

On February 10, 2006 Governor Bush appointed James R. McDonough as interim Secretary to replace Crosby. McDonough had been with Bush's Administration for the full length of his Governorship, serving as director of the Governor's Office of Drug Control. McDonough is a West Point Graduate, Author of "Platoon Leader" - later made into a popular film - and served proudly in the military, serving last in the European theater where he wrote the manuals on strategy and tactics that are still in use today.

McDonough took over with Bush's instructions to weed out the corruption and reform the prison system. He accepted his orders and went to work as always. Within weeks of taking over, McDonough fired many top officials, demoted those who had been promoted due to crony-ism and promoted those who had the skills to perform the duties assigned and had been passed over under Crosby and Moore. He charged department staff to remember their oaths and abide by them in dealing with other staff and inmates.

McDonough made a lot of enemies in his reform efforts. Most of those were the remainder of the "Good Ol' Boys" who had survived but were keeping their heads down.

I contacted Secretary McDonough shortly after he became Interim-Secretary, providing him with documents and information alleging corruption and violations of the PIECP program within PRIDE. I advised that I had provided the information previously to Secretary Crosby, to no avail. He refused to look into or investigate the allegations - even as a Board Member. Secretary McDonough replied immediately, asking if I was sure of my allegations, did I have documentation in support and did I have any suggestions on how the prison industries should be run by PRIDE, knowing what their Mission Goals were: training and job placement of inmates?

In response I forwarded several confidential documents outlining the corruption and efforts that had been made by myself and a prison advocacy group I belong to: (Little Ol' Ladies In Tennis Shoes - Florida LOLITS) and Kay Lee of Making The Walls Transparent (MTWT) to bring corruption in FDOC and PRIDE to the attention of Governor Bush and the media. I also included an independent plan for the revamping of PRIDE that would return the corporation to the Mission Goals. I advised that the Board had to be replaced with members appointed from both the commercial corporate and public activist arena's.

McDonough responded that he appreciated the input and documents and that he had ordered an investigation to be conducted by the department's IG and as soon as the report was completed he would provide a copy. As I awaited the report, I asked the Secretary if he planned on being at the upcoming (April 2006) PRIDE Board meeting and would I be allowed to attend? He promptly replied that yes, he intended to be there and as a member of the public I could attend.

I made the meeting, flying down from Indiana. Secretary McDonough could not make it to the meeting as he was in the midst of several near crises within the FDOC, but his General Counsel did attend. She spoke on his behalf and asked if I was present. Finding me there, she advised the Board that Secretary McDonough asked that the Board allow me to make a presentation to the Board as I had several grave concerns as to the PIECP program and PRIDE's business operations an practices in that program and those same concerns were mirrored by Secretary McDonough.

At the conclusion, I was given the courtesy of giving a presentation. I raised the issues of underpaid wages, use of inventoried products to fill PIECP orders, the contaminated foods coming out of their food processing plant, ethics violations by PRIDE President Edgemon and his son-in-law also working for PRIDE at the food processing plant involving the theft of ATL's equipment and materials and the formation of two for-profit corporations by his son-in-law that took the place of ATL's contracts and profits.

In addition I spoke to the use of inmates in the training program who were serving life or other sentences in excess of 20 years - voicing concerns of safety to both staff and inmates (allowing those inmates access to dangerous tools) and issues of avoiding overtime by adjusting inmate hours by removing some hours from one pay period and putting them on subsequent periods and the sale of prison made goods upon open markets without paying any PIE wages at all.

The Board thanked me and advised they would address my concerns and answer the questions at the next meeting in July. However, the Board was not aware of the situation involving ATL and the food processing facility and wanted Edgemon to explain the circumstances. Edgemon declined, stating that they were currently in litigation with ATL and he was unable to speak to the issues until the litigation was completed.

I attended the July meeting also and the Board had their internal auditor present to give a report on PIECP and how it was operated by PRIDE. In that presentation she stated that PRIDE had been reviewed numerous times by the NCIA and had been found in compliance. In answer to the wages paid to inmates, she answered that currently "all inmates working on PIECP orders/projects are paid the Florida minimum wage of $6.40 per hour." Again, she reiterated that under PIECP law, that was sufficient to meet the wage requirements of 18 USC 1761(c)(2).

I was allowed to respond to her presentation and again, pointed out that upon their website they claim to pay inmates "prevailing wages" as required by the law:

"The PIE Certification Program was created by Congress in 1979 to encourage states and units of local government to establish employment opportunities for prisoners that approximate private sector work opportunities. The program is designed to place inmates in a realistic working environment, pay them the local prevailing wage for similar work, and enable them to acquire marketable skills to increase their potential for successful rehabilitation and meaningful employment upon release."

The Board said they would further investigate my argument and address the issues in the next meeting in November. I attended that one also and PRIDE's "PIE Coordinator, Brian Connet was brought in and gave a presentation on PIECP. He gave a glowing number of statistics alleging that their training program through PIECP was turning recidivism rates around and reported many individual success rates. He again, mentioned that the inmate workers were paid minimum wage and that was in compliance with the requirements of the "1999 Final PIECP Guidelines". Mr. Connett was unable to stay and answer any questions posed by myself or the Board members. He was followed by a presentation given by Ms. Carol Tortarelli, then serving as PRIDE's Program Director for Mission Programs. She added more glowing reports to those provided by Connett about successful reentries by former offenders, but did not futher address PIECP.

At the conclusion I again gave a presentation that challenged the legality of the minimum wages paid by PRIDE when they were supposed to be paying prevailing wages - a substantial difference. The Chairman of the Board and two othr members turned to President Edgemon and asked," Jack are we in compliance on PIECP requirements by paying minimum wages?" His reply was a nod yes. When I again advised they were not only in non-compliance, but the failure to pay the proper wage rendered each product shipped across state lines a federal felony, Edgemon was asked again; "Jack are we or are we not in compliance by paying minimum wages to the workers?" His response that time was a verbal, "Yes."

(I traveled several more times to Florida to attend the meetings but was unable to convince the Board that the inmates were being cheated by paying them less than required...and by doing that, they were reducing their tax requirement of matching deductions for S.S. as employers and it also reduced the amount of room and board taken from inmate wages and turned over to the FDOC. I was talking and my words fell upon 12 sets of deaf ears).

In July 2006 Crosby and Clark both plead guilty to receiving kickbacks under an FDOC canteen contract involving Keefe Commissary Network and American Institutional Services (Earlier this year the owners of AIS were indicted, arrested and are awaiting trial for their parts in the kickback scheme. Keefe has not been mentioned after the original stories broke, and there has been no indication they will also face prosecution for their involvement in furthering the bribery scandal).

When Governor Crist took over from Bush, he kept McDonough on, citing his great work at reforming the huge FDOC.

From my initial contact with Secretary McDonough we exchanged many emails and had lunch at one of the 06 Board meetings in Orlando, discussing the issues surrounding PRIDE and their business practices. I told him I had learned that ATL was not the first private business "stolen" by PRIDE through PIECP and provided him with the names of the companies and facts as I knew them. In September 2007 the investigation he had ordered into PRIDE's operations was completed and turned over to him and McDonough resigned his position on the PRIDE Board (I didn't get a copy of that report until late 2009). In October 2009 McDonough called for Governor Crist to abolish PRIDE and return the operations of the prison industries back to the FDOC and in November he cited the fact that PRIDE 'had lost their way" in pursuing their mission goals and statement. In addition he demanded that PRIDE turn over more than $1 million deducted from inmate wages for room and board deductions, but PRIDE refused, saying state law allowed them use of those funds and McDonough countered that federal law says it rightfully belonged to his department and superseded state law.

A Senate Appropriations hearing was scheduled for January 8, 2008 to hear the proposals presented by McDonough and the FDOC on PRIDE. On January 7, 2008 James McDonough submitted an unexpected announcement that he was "retiring" from the FDOC as Secretary. I had traveled to Floria to be present at the hearing in support of the FDOC and heard the news sitting in my hotel room. I immediately emailed the Secretary and questioned if his retirement was a result of his battle over PRIDE. He stated it was his decision and the PRIDE fight had no effect upon his decision. However, since that time McDonough has been involved in several efforts to change the laws surrounding incarceration, to reduce incarceration and remove some inmates from prison and place them in facilities to address their addictions or mental problems. He has also called for sentencing alternatives to prison. So McDonough remains active in trying to change Florida's dependence upon mass incarceration and the costs in tax dollars that results in.

Throughout my conversations and communications with James McDonough he was always truthful - regardless of any personal costs to him for voicing those truths - and demonstrated a huge amount of integrity and concern. While Secretary he eliminated wasteful contracts, reduced the cost of canteen items for the inmates - state wide - and re-negotiated the inmate phone access contracts, reducing the cost of collect calls to family and friends from within the FDOC. He made many changes to professionalize the FDOC and return it to a department that was again respected - a hard task after all the corruption in the nation's third largest correctional system.

His ability to understand and realize the actions of PRIDE were violative and hampering rather than assisting a reduction in prison recidivism made him respond as he had always done, by correcting the situation and addressing the corruption that lurked within PRIDE.

Unfortunately the Governor and Legislators were willing to support McDonough's efforts of ridding the FDOC of corruption and crony-ism - but not PRIDE. When his attention turned to PRIDE (Legislator's cash cow) he had to be stopped. Inmates and most corrupt officers do not contribute to campaign funds - PRIDE and their lobbyists do - so reforming the FDOC was okay. He had been so effective at rooting out all forms of corruption within FDOC that he simply could not be allowed to pursue the same attack upon the source of most Florida politician's lobby funding through PRIDE...and in his absence corruption and huge sums of money made off of inmate labor, continues as before; growing more insidious and being exported to other states every day.

In the next segment we'll discuss the NCIA and their impact upon the violations within PIECP.

Some have asked that I provide links to the other segments in this series. Below you will find them.

INSOURCING - A new concept about private sector job losses
INSOURCING-II-The Wheel of Money and Sorrow...
INSOURCING-III - Corporate Wheel of Profit Rolls On...
INSOURCING-IV - More Profits Through Monopolies...-
INSOURCING - The Real Reason your jobs MUST go to prison and what they do with the money saved...
INSOURCING - Why this Investigative series began...
INSOURCING - Florida Corruption Exposed
INSOURCING- Violations-under-PIECP

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