Sunday, November 28, 2010

Insourcing - The Real Reason your jobs MUST go to prison and what they do with the money saved...

Monopoly is defined thus in the Miriam Webster dictionary: mo·nop·o·ly noun \mə-ˈnä-p(ə-)lē\
plural mo·nop·o·lies
Definition of MONOPOLY

exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted action
exclusive possession or control
a commodity controlled by one party
one that has a monopoly
While it would appear that no one corporation enjoys a monopoly, some are getting close.

Hundreds of thousands of prison beds are now privatized. Many of those beds are owned and operates by Corrections Corporations of America and Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut). They lease these beds to numerous states and the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Between these two corporations - CCA and Geo, respectively - they "own" or "lease" 169,000 prison beds in the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). As this is written they are seeking more beds while still more are coming online every quarter from new prison construction and leasing of existing, outdated or unused state facilities.

Every year they "merge" of "acquire" smaller private prison corporations and accumulate the beds "owned" by those entities, the contracts held by the smaller company and the taxpayer income received through those existing contracts. In addition, title to the bodies filling those beds transfers from one to the other adding to the bottom line or the purchaser.

CCA is the nation's largest owner and operator of partnership correction and detention facilities and one of the largest prison operators in the United States, behind only the federal government and three states. They currently operate 66 facilities, including 45 company-owned facilities, with a total design capacity of approximately 90,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Geo Group now has 79,000 beds at 116 correctional, residential and treatment facilities. They just "merged" with Cornell Corrections, another major player in private prison operations.Projected annualized revenues are projected to be $1.5 billion.

In addition to the beds owned by these two corporations, they also have diversified their services to include providing all phases of healthcare, food service (like Aramark and Trinity), work (prison industries) and educational services. The quote blow is directly from CCA's current 3rd quarter 2010 financial report:

"CCA is the nation's largest owner and operator of partnership correction and detention facilities and one of the largest prison operators in the United States, behind only the federal government and three states. We currently operate 66 facilities, including 45 company-owned facilities, with a total design capacity of approximately 90,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia. We specialize in owning, operating and managing prisons and other correctional facilities and providing inmate residential and prisoner transportation services for governmental agencies. In addition to providing the fundamental residential services relating to inmates, our facilities offer a variety of rehabilitation and educational programs, including basic education, religious services, life skills and employment training and substance abuse treatment. These services are intended to reduce recidivism and to prepare inmates for their successful re-entry into society upon their release. We also provide health care (including medical, dental and psychiatric services), food services and work and recreational programs."

From Geo's 3rd quarter 2010 financial report we learn about their Cornell merger and that their diversification now includes "Geo Care", institutions and facilities for youth offenders and more acquisitions of smaller companies and facilities:

"GEO Care
For the third quarter of 2010, GEO Care revenue increased by approximately $30.3 million year-over-year. This revenue increase was primarily driven by GEO’s merger with Cornell Companies, which added approximately $23.8 million in revenues from the integration of Cornell’s Community Based and Youth Services facilities under GEO Care, and by the acquisition of the 354-bed Columbia Regional Care Center in South Carolina in the fourth quarter of 2009.

International Services
For the third quarter of 2010, International Services revenue increased by approximately $10.9 million year-over-year driven by the activation of the Parklea Correctional Centre in Australia; the opening of a 360-bed expansion at the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in the United Kingdom; and positive foreign exchange rate fluctuations.

GEO represents government clients in the United States, Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. GEO’s worldwide operations include the management and/or ownership of approximately 79,000 beds at 116 correctional, detention and residential treatment facilities, including projects under development

In 2008 when the information below was provided, there were approximately 18 U.S. Corporations involved in running, leasing or operating private prisons in the U.S. I dispute the total number of prisoners the article identifies as being privately guarded, but the concept, regardless of numbers is the same.

"Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one. According to Russell Boraas, a private prison administrator in Virginia, "the secret to low operating costs is having a minimal number of guards for the maximum number of prisoners." The CCA has an ultra-modern prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where five guards on dayshift and two at night watch over 750 prisoners. In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for "good behavior," but for any infraction, they get 30 days added - which means more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost "good behavior time" at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons." Source: "The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?"

Now in 2010, as I've just shown directly from Geo and CCA's most current financial reports, they have space for 169,000 prisoners, detainees, youthful offenders and offenders in treatment facilities worldwide.

The information obtained indicates that the concept of privately run government prison operations in the U.S. is now being "outsourced" to many other nations: Australia, the U.K., New Zealand and many others. It is bad enough that we have this kind of manipulation of laws and contracts to allow for the incarceration of more and more of us - for longer periods of time - so corporate interests can earn huge profits, but the export of such a system to other countries will result in more and more incarceration world wide. This is being done not for protecting our societies but rather to increase profits, and consolidate more power and influence wielded by the corporations involved - worldwide.

If we as U.S. citizens are unable to stop this migration of privately run prison operations to other countries, our reputation and standing within the world arena is going to be worse than it already is after 8 years of President Bush - who allowed this concept to come to fruition in the first place. Once these other countries realize that the disinformation they were provided by CCA, Geo and others, that encouraged them to allow the corporations to privatize their prisons, was just that disinformation, we will be looked upon as responsible for what happened to their countries.

It is not only private prison companies involved. Indeed, there are all those peripheral corporations - akin to the relationship between sharks and the parasite sucking pilot fish that congregate around sharks and other carnivorous fish species. These corporate "pilot fish" include corporations such as Aramark, Trinity, PHS, AT&T, Boeing and other corporations and manufacturers who realize a profit from feeding, treating or working the increasing number of prisoners available to them through prison privatization. Not to be left in the dust, we now have many religious groups, organizations and associations clamoring for more of the scraps that fall from the prison tables. These religious and church run groups offer up privately run drug rehab, alcohol rehab, reentry and other programs designed to take advantage of prisoners. All the programs operated by these "spiritual" groups are operated not out of faith or a desire to improve the lives of the prisoners, rather for profit. They receive tax dollars through federal grants to operate their programs. In addition media articles chronicling their activities allow them to receive private donations to further increase profits and expand their programs.

This narrowing of the distance between government and religion through prison and prisoner programs has started to impact our society in other ways. In particular many among our population now find it is their right to question the faith and beliefs of those who run for office. Religion has no place in our electoral processes, yet over the past two decades it has come to play a major role in how some of us vote in the elections. This is allowed to continue and become more involved with each election because questions of faith and religion of the candidates is funded and encouraged by the corporate interests that are also trying to guide our political processes. Diversions from key issues created by the religious involvement in our elections is funded by the corporations interested in using the issues raised by them to confuse the electorate and further their objectives of putting those in office who will best serve the corporate interests.

This blending of corporate and religious interests in determining the path of our nation is one of the most dangerous elements to come out of this entire corporate/legislative/faith relationship. These key groups represent the money, power and "principles" behind a course they have charted for the direction of our democracy. Worse, they are now taking this road-map to other countries...countries that are without the political safeguards our democracy "had" and has lost to this powerful cabal. Successful operations in those countries will go much more quickly and enable corporate interests and profits to increase much faster.

It appears that the goal - besides profits - is to incarcerate a large percentage of every population and through that act, leverage more and more influence within the individual state societies.

My claim may appear to be far-fetched to some readers, but you only have to look to New Zealand over the past year. There some of our biggest proponents of the 3 strike laws, truth in sentencing and other laws that today are causing us such problems, have been presented to the government of New Zealand and were to be implemented this year.

Think there is no connection between ALEC and our lawmakers with the enhanced criminal laws such as 3 strike, truth in sentencing and other companion laws overseas? You would be wrong. Germany, New Zealand, Australia and the U.K. have/are all considering implementing their own form of these oppressive and harsh laws. These countries are all trying to implement such laws in the face of what it has done to our country financially and as a society. Why would they take such dangerous steps when it has cost us and the country so much? Corporations and ALEC.

ALEC is proud that they are now "International" with members from those countries named above. They welcome members from overseas who have the same conservative views as those expressed by ALEC and their members and supporters.

"During a roundtable conference with key European legislators, ALEC members were recently told that despite resounding “No” votes in referendums in France and Holland, the EU was still proceeding with the draft European Constitution by continually introducing sections of the draft by piece-meal legislation".

"Throughout 2009—2010, the Task Force has worked tirelessly on behalf of its members, presenting conference testimony on contraband tobacco legislation in the US Congress, and submitting a letter to the Australian Senate which was used to oppose a plain packaging bill. Also, our model legislation supporting final ratification of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is being used by the Colombian Embassy in D.C. as promotional material.

"ALEC continues to build strategic partnerships across the globe, while maintaining our public-private sector model. With international legislative members and decision makers from three continents, the IRTF is expanding its reach to further Jeffersonian principles. We are consistently adding new international partners in order to maximize our impact—both in the United States and abroad!"

Check out this picture with the caption: "ALEC briefing with representatives from the People’s Republic of China’s Commerce Ministry on December 7, 2009." and on the same page: "Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat and ALEC Executive Director Ron Scheberle discuss business opportunities in Moldova at a roundtable at ALEC on January 21, 2010.

And lest your are left with any doubts as to the influence of ALEC and their corporate member's influence and manipulations overseas:

"The members of the International Relations Task Force (IRTF) believe in the power of free markets and limited government to propel economic growth not just in the United States but around the globe. To that end, the IRTF promotes both bilateral and multilateral free trade frameworks, initiatives and partnerships that strengthen the intellectual property rights of our members worldwide and other policies that create and sustain prosperous societies. This is increasingly important as more and more American companies expand their operations overseas and as states recognize that robust international trade programs are an effective way to grow their economies. Along with the support of ALEC's traditional public and private sector members, the IRTF has cultivated relationships with legislators and other officials and organizations around the world that can serve as partners on a wide range of issues. ALEC's international policy work is persuasive abroad precisely because our policy directives are backed by our public and private sector members -- American state legislators from all 50 states and some of the world's largest corporations."Found here.

I believe the foregoing quote from the ALEC website says it all in a nutshell. They and their corporate members such as CCA, Geo, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, PhRMA and the hundreds of other corporations are directly and deliberately carrying their principles and business practices to other countries even as this is written. The money saved by replacing your jobs with prisoners has become profits to the corporations. This money is being put to use furthering their interests in pursuing the same agenda in other countries. More prisoners here, more prison industry, increased profits allowing for the funding of efforts elsewhere.

The steady loss of jobs in the U.S. is putting more and more of us at risk of losing homes, cars, education for our children, etc. A side effect is that as we concentrate on putting food on the table and trying to land some kind of job, our efforts are so difficult, we have no time to address social issues and participate in the current arguments on important issues. Our important issues is feeding our family and keeping a roof over our heads. Those who own corporations are not so distracted and therefore able to apply full force and support in advancing their side of issues in the public arena. This allows important issues to be less argued by those of us not participating in the discussion, and this skews the argument in favor of the corporations.

There is no doubt what their motives or objectives are. They have begun installing corporations in those countries abroad, they are promoting their conservative goals over there and they have the help of the U.S. Lawmakers to assist them in their endeavors.The most frightening aspect of the foregoing information supplied directly from ALEC's site, is the connections established between ALEC and China. What is that going to lead to? I mean CHina is already the worlds leader in the use of prisoner labor in manufacturing...

Join me tomorrow as we further explore these issues and discuss how to put a stop to this group dedicated to spreading their agenda worldwide.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

INSOURCING IV – More Profits Through Monopolies...

So to take up where Segment III left off, our prisoner is now incarcerated safely away from society in a state prison that is privatized. Food provided to the inmate is provided by a private food service contractor such as Aramark or Trinity Food Service Group. These corporations receive large chunks of tax dollars to provide food to inmates and are often fined for non-compliance with contract terms.

On the first day of assigned work at the prison industry, the inmate is presented documents to sign. One of the documents is a “voluntary participation document” for PIECP. When asked what this program is, our inmate is informed that if they want to earn as much as minimum wage on some of the products they make, they have to volunteer for this program. That is usually all the information provided to new hires and they sign it.

During the course of employment within the prison industry the inmate works diligently at his assigned tasks, making a myriad assortment of products for a corporation partnered with the prison industry; Boeing, Microsoft, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks or any one of the hundreds of other corporations operating under the PIECP program.

During the prison term the inmate visits the infirmary on several occasions and his/her account is debited with a $4.00 fee for each visit. Actual medical care and treatment was paid for with tax dollars due under the contract. Medication is provided to the inmate for ailments. The private prison physician orders pills in for the inmate in a dosage that are less than that manufactured by the pharmaceutical provider, so the pills are split under a separate private contract issued by the DOC to another company – such as TYA - to cut the pills in half. This contract is worth about $12 million annually, and paid for with tax dollars.

Successfully completing 85% of the imposed sentence, the inmate prepares to leave prison and return to the community. At this time he is introduced to Prison Fellowship Ministries (PFM). PFM is the largest prisoner reentry program provider in the U.S. They are the recipients of numerous state and federal tax payer grants for reentry assistance and are privately funded through donations. Our inmate is moved to a pre-release dormitory where he will meet with PFM representatives and be “counseled” through a program that is designed to indoctrinate inmates into the Evangelical Christian belief system. In addition the inmate is instructed to secure a surety bond guaranteeing the state that he/she will not violate the terms of post-release supervision he/she will be on until the 15% remainder of sentence (gain time) is finished. The bond will be issued through the American Bail Coalition (mentioned in the previous segment) or one of their agents who will receive from $2,500.00 to $5,000.00 up front from the inmate or his/her family for issuing the bond.

If our inmate is able to provide the money for the bond he/she will be released back to the community. If not, the gain time earned can be revoked and the inmate stay in prison until the sentence is completed in full – day for day.

In the foregoing scenario, our inmate has made thousands of dollars for all of the various corporations involved directly or indirectly with criminal justice. Private U.S. corporations providing food, housing, medical, banking, phone services, commissary, prison industry, bonding - pre-trial and post-release and reentry assistance have all profited from this one inmate’s term of incarceration. In addition other corporations profited; chemical spray manufacturers, construction companies building new prisons, prison staff unions made money from dues paid by the guards, taser manufacturers profited from sales.

The numbers of private corporate hands in the prison industrial complex are staggering. What is more alarming is the fact that many of those corporations and individuals involved are all affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council. They sit upon the board of ALEC’s nine Task Forces and “assist our lawmakers” in developing new laws and to increase the penalties for existing criminal violations. They work diligently to increase privatization of anything governmental – especially those duties involving incarceration.

One side effect of all this is the impact upon private sector jobs displaced by more and more manufacturing moving into prison industries. State correctional authorities that operate prison industries openly advertise the benefits of partnerships between private companies and prison industries by advising prospective partners that using prison labor allows them to label their products as “Made In The U.S.A.” and provides a workforce that requires no payment of benefits, are always on time and do not miss work due to family problems.

ALEC and their corporate benefactors and members receive invaluable assistance in their efforts of taking jobs from the private sector and replacing those positions with prisoners. One of the tools that assist them is the Correctional Industries Association. This Association is similar to the National Correctional Industries Association. A brief look at their Resolution on the Fair Labor Standards Act demonstrates their goal of reducing prison labor wages to benefit corporate profits and eliminate any inmate attempts of being considered employees or receiving fair wages for their work. You might wonder who is behind an Association such as this – well many of the same ones behind the NCIA:


The only names missing from the foregoing list are ALEC and their members; Prison Fellowship Ministries and the American Bail Coalition to make the picture complete.

With the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s authority to operate and oversee PIECP and prison industry operations and their involvement with the CIA and NCIA that make every effort to avoid paying inmates prevailing wages as required by PIECP, corporations make more money. Incentive is provided for even more corporations to choose to join them and avoid paying private sector wages when they can use inmate labor and save as much as 80% of the typical private sector hourly wage. The situation is made worse by the fact the BJA outsourced all oversight and operational duties assigned to them by the DOJ, to the NCIA.

As demonstrated by this series, Insourcing, we have been made aware of the vast amount of public funding that is being paid to private corporations involved in every phase of our judicial system – state and federal. From arrest through release these corporate interests are represented and rewarded with your tax dollars. To increase profits, they also have worked out a system whereby inmate families and friends contribute to their bottom line by sending money to inmates that is used to pay for banking, phone calls, medical and dental treatments, purchase of personal items by the inmate and finally, bonding to assure state authorities that inmate will not reoffend (this has become law in two U.S. states) and is being introduced in as many as 32 others this year.

Religious groups have discovered the tax dollars available for programs related to incarceration and have found ways to profit from incarceration (Prison Fellowship Ministries) and now want to further profit by establishing Christian prisons in Texas and again in Oklahoma and again in Oklahoma, staffed by Christians only and with inmates who “volunteer” to be housed there and ministered to daily in Evangelical theories and matters. These Christian facilities will also have prison industries upon the grounds where the Christian inmates will work for federal minimum wage. Of course these Christian prisons will be funded with our tax dollars and because the facilities will be operated by a Church organization, their income will be tax exempt – as are existing operations like those operated by Prison Fellowship. If/when these Evangelical Christian groups manage to establish and build these prison facilities, the first side effect will be an immediate drop in private sector jobs that will then be given to the inmates for minimum wage scale.

If you think this kind of Christian involvement in prison operation is not possible, you have only to look back to 2001 when one of the first Presidential Executive Orders issued by President Bush in January, 2001 was the establishment of the “White House Offices Of Faith-Based Community Initiatives” (WHOFBCI) in U.S. Government agencies and departments with instructions that staffers of each agency were to assist faith-based groups to cut through red tape and get access to federal tax dollars for community projects – especially ones related to prison incarceration and reentry. There are sites out there now providing instructions to faith-based groups on how to get the most federal tax money for their projects.

All of the acts committed and issues presented by this series have been initiated and helped along by our lawmakers. Without them corporate interests and manipulations of our state and federal laws would not be possible. We would still have many of our private sector jobs, our mortgage “industry” would not have been able to manipulate markets that would eventually collapse from those manipulations. Safeguards and regulations would not have been eliminated or watered down to allow for more profits and less government “interference” in many corporate interests such as banking, investments and insurance rates. All of these contributed to the economic picture we face today and were accomplished by our representatives succumbing to the large contributions provided by the corporations who now own most of them.

The way forward to stop the loss of jobs and more corporate influence in our life and government is to de-elect corporate enablers now in office. Those who vote against the will of their constituents to side with corporate interests have to be voted out of office. In selecting those who would replace the enablers, we must start asking important questions and firmly inform candidates that we are willing to risk one term of office on them and if they also fall under the spell of powerful corporations and special interest organizations such as ALEC, one term is all they’ll get. We all have to ignore the disinformation and mudslinging that accompanies every election cycle now. We must push for truth in campaign runs on the issues important to us and not fall into the trap of arguing about inconsequential issues devised to distract us from genuine positions of the candidates. Nothing will change unless we initiate the changes ourselves.

Political party or affiliations doesn’t matter; if your elected representative demonstrates support for corporate interests over the community’s with his/her voting, replace them until you elect one who votes for your community. Only in this way are we going to bring about reform to replace corporate control with public interests and put our country back in order.
Another action we can take is to force a change in existing prison industry legislation at the state and federal levels that will bring jobs back to our communities and neighbors. PIECP is the current controlling federal law but is being so mismanaged by the Department of Justice that all regulation has disappeared, transferred to the private sector through the NCIA. Letters have to be written to the DOJ demanding that PIECP Guidelines be enforced. Legislative intent of creating a level playing field for private sector and prison industry competition has been circumvented through deregulation and outsourcing of the program to corporate interests. The majority of citizens have been totally unaware of PIECP until recently. They had no idea the program existed and was contributing to their job losses over the past several years. We all have to make others aware of the program and how it is contributing to our lost jobs and income. In this way more pressure can be exerted by the public to reform this program so it no longer represents a cash cow to corporations and ALEC members and lawmakers who profit from it.

If PIECP is run as intended, the advantages now available to corporations would cease. They would have to pay prevailing wages to inmate workers; pay workers comp insurance premiums and would be unable to sell their products on the open markets in the state of manufacture without paying inmate workers even minimum wages. Additionally state prison facilities are funded with your dollars – even if privately operated. The prison industries operated from those prisons are offering their corporate partners cheap leases of as little as a dollar a year for entire manufacturing facilities. These are your facilities, bought and paid for with tax dollars. Every dollar saved by a corporation on these leases are a dollar paid for in subsidy by you and I.

If these modifications to the program are removed, there will be much less incentive for corporations to partner with prison industries and private sector job losses will diminish and some that have been taken will return.

This won’t affect outsourcing, but stopping insourcing is a good first step.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

INSOURCING III - Corporate Wheel of Profit Rolls On...

Corporations depend upon labor for their manufacturing and service industry needs. To keep the labor pool full to the rim, they develop ideas for new laws that benefit them and contribute to access to more and more individuals, some of which are highly educated and well trained with skills that will benefit prison industry operations. To this end they partner with organizations and politicians sympathetic to their needs and desires.

The machinations in the foregoing paragraph are accomplished over and over again through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their corporate membership. Corporate representatives meet with ALEC's conservative lawmaker membership and write "model Legislation" that is then taken back to states where the member lawmakers attempt to attract sponsorship and eventually pass the legislation into law. One a law is enacted and put in place, other machinery awakens and goes to work.

A violation of the new law is discovered, the person committing the "crime" is arrested and the actual "Wheel of Sorrow and Money" begins to turn and generate profits for the corporate interests. First, the arrestee is provided an opportunity to be released pending trial by posting a surety bond to get out of jail.

ALEC's corporate member, the American Bail Coalition (ABC - it's Executive Director serving upon ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force) is there to provide bonding and of course, profit from the "service" provided to the arrestee. Many state's and the federal government have implemented a pre-trial release program allowing pre-trial release of defendants, but ALEC vigorously fights against these programs to keep private sector bonding intact and making money. This is a a very important arena for ALEC, as can be seen at their Model Legislation page on Public Safety page. ALEC has no less than 13 proposed legislative bills dedicated to bail and bail recovery issues. No mis-understanding of the influence wielded by ABC within the Public Safety Task Force. Of course reading about any of this soon to be proposed legislation is not possible, due to the secretive nature of ALEC. You must be a member to access their model legislation pages.

However there is a way to discover some of what they propose by access to proposed legislation through other sources. For instance here is a two part clip on a presentation given by the ABC to ALEC lawmakers on Model bail bond legislation proposed by ALEC (second part here). For those who watch these video presentation and wonder what the document contained in the "package" given to lawmakers was, here it is. "A Plan to Reduce Prison Overcrowding and Violent Crime - “Conditional Post-Conviction Release Bond Act”. Earlier and detailed proposed legislation on this issue is found here.

For those too busy to watch the video or read the proposed legislation, here it is in a nutshell: the American Bail Coalition makes millions off of pretrial bonding. Now they want to make millions more off the same pretrial defendants - who were convicted and sent to prison - once they are up for early release. How? The ABC is promoting legislation that would allow states to require those up for release to get their family or friends to post a post-release surety bond, guaranteeing the state that they won't re-offend if released early. Of course the surety bonds issued would require a minimum 10% "fee" paid to the bonding company for the posting of the bond. The ABC Executive Director Dennis Bartlett suggested at one of the legislative presentation that lawmakers should first check to see if their state could implement this bonding system through administrative means, saying legislation takes longer and may not be as successful as just issuing and edict to allow bonding of released offenders.

So ALEC corporate members make money immediately on bonds issued to release pretrial defendants and they wish to make more on the back end through more bonding initiatives. Following arrest and bonding a trial is held - or pretrial deals made - and an offender is found guilty. Once that occurs, the sentencing guidelines enacted by ALEC model legislation kicks in and the offender is often times sentenced to the harshest sentence allowed under the guidelines, and returns to jail to await transfer to the state prison. Many jails are now privately run facilities outsourced to the likes of ALEC members Geo Group and CCA. The state or county pays these corporations a per diem for each day the convicted offender is housed there. Corporations providing food and canteen products to the inmates also make profits. Any phone calls made by the offender are handled by AT&T or other telecom providers, and the costs of these collect calls are as much as 300% higher from jail facilities than they are when made from pay phones. The convicted offender's family and friends pay these outrageous fees. The jail facility receives a "commission" from the telecom provider for allowing the placement of their equipment within the jail. Within many states county and municipal jails now charge inmates for their room and board, assessing a daily fee for incarceration. This charge is taken out of the offender's account and if he/she has no money, a lien is placed upon the account and any money received into the account is then debited first to pay for the charges and remaining funds can then be used by the offender.

Once bed space is available at the prison for the offender, he is put on a bus and transported from the jail to the prison. Often times this transfer is made using private transportation companies that contract to move prisoners around the state and country. More corporate profit from the prisoner.

Once at the prison the offender - now called an inmate - is put through orientation and medical screening. The medical department is also operated by a private corporation such as Prison Health Services, now called PHS Correctional Health out of Tennessee. Your tax dollars pay for this medical screening and any subsequent use of medical care or treatment needed by the inmate. Inmates are usually charged a co-pay of from $4.00 to $6.00 and this is turned over to the private contractor.

Following orientation the inmate is moved in the "general population" area of the prison for permanent housing. Once there he/she is put through another screening process to determine what job will be assigned to the inmate. IF he/she has skills particularly needed by the prison industry located at the prison, the inmate is assigned to the prison industry. Otherwise he/she is assigned to another job within the prison.

Again, phone calls are handled by the same or another telecom provider that is contracted with the prison operator to handle communications. The fees are usually higher from prisons than they were from jails (security is quoted as causing the increased rates) and again, paid for by the person or family called by the inmate.

The prison authority establishes an account for the new inmate. Banking has also been outsourced and privatized and the corporation with the contract is allowed to charge a monthly fee of between $4.00 and $6.00 for handling the account - regardless of whether or not the inmate has money in the account or not. Money sent in to the inmate can no longer be sent as money orders, personal checks or cash through the mail directly to the inmate or prison where he/she is housed. The inmate is provided "deposit slips" that he/she must send to friends and family who wish to send them money. They have to enclose a money order and send it with the deposit slip to the address established by the bank and prison authority. Once received it is deposited in the inmate's account - after a fee of from $.50 to $2.00 is taken out for "handling" by the bank.

Money that is left after paying the above fees is available to the inmate to purchase clothing, hygiene and other items he/she desires: food, snacks, tobacco, etc. The commissary where these items are purchased are owned and operated under contract between the prison authority and a private corporation such as Keefe Commissary Network. The only items available to an inmate must come from this provider. Family and friends can no longer send food, clothing, hygiene or other items to an inmate - everything an inmate buys or is allowed to have in his/her possession is purchased through the commissary provider.

Tomorrow I will continue this sad tale about the corporate profits from inmates - both as inmates and as a source of cheap labor.

INSOURCING II - The Wheel of Money and Sorrow...

Previously I discussed PIECP and how it is being used to increase prison labor while eliminating private sector jobs to reduce labor costs, overhead and increase profits. In this and the following segments I'll discuss the entire length of the money chain from arrest through bonding and incarceration to release. I'll provide the names of the corporations, organizations, and private businesses who make large profits off of arrests and incarceration and those who profit after release from reentry program funding and donations from you.

Today I want to explain the machination that make insourcing possible and who is involved, how they're involved and who funds these efforts. To understand the concept I need for you to form a mental image of a wagon wheel. This wheel is composed of: an outer iron rim, spokes that radiate and carry the weight and pressure from the rim equally to the outer hub that holds it all together. At the center of the hub is an inner hub that fits the entire wheel to an axle.

Without any one of those four necessary components, a wheel will not function: no spokes it collapses, no rim and the spokes will collapse without something to hold it together at the outer end. No outer hub, and the spokes dangle uselessly from the rim and no inner hub for an axle and the entire wheel has no purpose and could not function at all.

These mental images demonstrate that for a wheel to work properly there must be a way for several parts to work cohesively to perform a particular task, in this case roll while distributing weight evenly. This is also an apt description of how insourcing works.

For insourcing to work correctly for corporations, lawmakers and prison industries, everything must work together toward one goal: using inmate labor to produce products or provide services to consumers and other companies. When this is done properly, corporations and prison industries make lots of money and thousands of private sector jobs are eliminated.

In this case - back to the wheel - the "axle" represents the U.S. Government's Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program - 18USC 1761(c). It fits nicely into the inner hub which in our wheel represents the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA). NCIA is the connector between government program and prison industries and compliance with that program's laws and mandatory requirements.

The solid space between inner and outer hub represents the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Outer hub represents lobbyists, donors and affiliated sponsors who fund and support corporate and key legislative interests. The spokes radiating away from the hub are the U.S. Corporations and state lawmakers represented by the lobbyists and sponsors. The rim represents companies, associations and organizations that profit from arrests and incarceration (other than housing, care and labor) and serve as magnets that directs individuals to the wheel and transforms them into inmates. With all parts working in unison and smoothly the wheel rolls along the ground, accumulating inmates.

Attached to the axle (PIECP) is the authority and weight of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Surface Transportation Board housed under the Department of Transportation that enforces the Interstate Commerce Act (this is important since PIECP statutes were created under the Interstate Transportation Act addressing interstate commerce involving prison made goods).

As the foregoing demonstration shows, the full weight of several United States Agencies and Departments - from the Secretary of Commerce through the DOJ, OJP to the BJA - bear authority for the PIECP program, that connects to our wheel. In reality this is the relationship between the highest level of our government, through a federal program to prisoners - state and federal. Interspersed within that link are private corporations, lobbyists, lawmakers, ALEC and the NCIA...all with a financial interest involving inmates (housing, banking, phone rates, medical services, food service and labor).

Tomorrow I will explain how our "wheel" operates in a most efficient manner to generate corporate profits from initial arrest through eventual release from prison. You won't have thought about the connections before and will be surprised - and angered to learn just who all profits and how.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

INSOURCING- A new concept about private sector job losses

As I wrote earlier in my Corporatocracy series, Webster is continually having to update their dictionary to keep up with trends and vocabulary indigenous to our new millennium.

Corporatocracy can best be described as: "A type of government in which huge corporations, through bribes, gifts, and the funding of ad campaigns that oppose candidates they don't like, become the driving force behind the executive, judicial and legislative branches".

Alongside this descriptive word and concept, another has come along - Insourcing . There is no current definition for this word in our Urban Dictionary or Websters. I plan to change that by defining in detail the concept of insourcing and who is responsible for the practice of it. First we must compare the word to it's cousin, Outsourcing.

Outsourcing has come to mean the transfer of jobs from one country to another country. The jobs are "outsourced" by corporate interests seeking higher profits through cheaper wages and other factors such as no EPA regulations in the country chosen by the corporation to replace the U.S. jobs.

Insourcing describes the process used by corporations to remove jobs from private sector labor markets and "Insource" them to prison industry operations here in the U.S. This allows for profits more in line with outsourcing, but eliminates the necessity for expensive transportation costs to return the finished goods to the U.S. for sale to consumers. It also allows manufacturers to attach lables to their goods marked "Made In The U.S.A." This is an important matter in today's markets. Americans want to buy American made products. This desire for patriotic purchasing has been around for a few decades now and was introduced by American manufacturers objecting to our purchasing of imported goods made in Japan, China, Taiwan, etc.

Insourcing of jobs is the "quiet" elimination of private sector jobs. Corporations wishing to participate in using prison labor, partner with prison industry operations under the federal Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP). 18 USC 1761(c) is the controlling federal statute of PIECP. Though private sector corporations are prohibited from closing private sector operations in favor of prison operations, they do so without consequence. There are other mandatory requirements that must be followed in order to participate in PIECP, but those also are rarely enforced.

The way these prison partnerships typically work is that a manufacturer wanting to increase profits moves their equipment, technology, materials and unfinished goods to a factory setting within a prison industry facility. Once up and running, the same products come off the assembly lines and are shipped as before. The difference is this, private sector employees of the company have been terminated or laid off. A handful of employees are usually kept on long enough to train inmates and prison supervisors in the manufacturing used to make the products. Once that is accomplished, they are also eliminated and their positions taken over by a prison industry supervisor.

This insourcing of labor creates quite a number of unemployed citizens. Burdens are placed on state and community social help programs, unemployment compensation, etc. So while the corporation saves lots of money in labor costs - no more unemployment insurance premiums, less expenses in lease of facilities (usually leased by the prison operators at $1.00 per year), and no more employee benefits such as medical insurance, vacations or paid time off - the communities they vacated are left to fund the unemployed left in their wake. In addition the local government loses taxes that were paid by the corporation, previous landlords of the facilities once leased to the corporations are left with vacant property and local shops and other businesses suffer a drop in sales due to the newly unemployed workers left behind.

Insourcing was never a very important topic to most - until 2008 when our economy began to collapse and unemployment grew by leaps and bounds. Only then did people begin to turn an eye toward the use of prison labor instead of private sector employees. Some of us questioned what could be done to stop the practice of losing jobs to prisoners. What we discovered was depressing; lawmakers had been hard at work enlarging this program and eliminating most regulatory measures and transferring actual oversight of the program to the very corporations and prison industries to be overseen. Corporations had just as actively been contributing campaign donations to lawmakers to ensure PIECP continued as modified without interference or regulation. Why is this such a big deal?

Most people are not aware that today prison industries are a booming business with gross sales in excess of $3 billion annually. Less than two decades ago their gross sales were less than $400 million. Prior to the early 1990's most prison industries limited sales to state agencies, departments or non-profit institutions like colleges and public schools, etc. Once corporate interests discovered PIECP that came to a screeching halt. Today prison made good are found on shelves in most major grocery stores, appliance outlets, designer clothing stores, wal-mart, kmart and many others. Prisoner made goods are now found in most homes in the U.S. Due to loop holes in the PIECP legislation, state prison industries are now able to manufacture and sell their products upon open markets in the state of manufacture without paying inmates much more than pennies on the hour for their labor. This has eliminated many small businesses, competitive private sector manufacturers and thousands of jobs nationwide. Today anyone can buy products made in prison with cheap prison labor.

To fully understand the subject of insourcing you need to also understand the basis for PIECP. A reading of the PIECP Final Guidelines at will inform that it was the intent of the lawmakers to implement this program with the basic goal of training inmates in job skills and technologies that would allow them to exit prison with the ability of becoming employed upon release and thus avoid a return to prison. That's the concept and reason for PIECP.

The program was never intended to serve as a cheap labor source for corporations but that is what it has become. This was accomplished through manipulations and lobbying by the corporations involved to change PIECP into what it is today. In order to succeed in this transformation it was necessary to reduce or eliminate altogether all oversight of the program. That is exactly what happened in the mid '90's.

The U.S. Department of Justice's, Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) was given authority to oversee PIECP and enforce compliance with the mandated requirements put in place by Congress. In '95 this oversight and authority over the program was "outsourced" by the BJA to a private non-profit group - the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA). The DOJ provided a nice healthy taxpayer grant to the NCIA for performing these oversight "duties" on behalf of the U.S. government.

Since 1995 the program has been so abused lawmakers back in 1979 would no longer recognize PIECP as the legislation they enacted that year. This abuse has come about because the NCIA is an organization made up entirely of prison industry administrators, employees of prison industries and their vendors and suppliers. All are actively involved in PIECP within their industries. Thus from 1995 through today, the entire program is being run and overseen by the same group of individuals and corporations. They have become the foxes guarding the hen-house. Through these manipulations more and more corporations have been attracted to the use of prisoners as their "labor pool".

Private prison operators such as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Geo Group - yes, the same ones involved in the SB 1070 corruption fiasco in Arizona - own and operate dozens of prisons across the U.S. Many of those facilities have complete manufacturing facilities attached and are operated as prison industries. CCA had a contract through 2003 with U.S. Technologies, Inc. that allowed UST to operate any prison industry under CCA's control at privately run prisons. (UST's stock was delisted by the SEC and they quietly ceased to operate after the CEO of UST was charged with corruption and bilking investors out of $13 million in 2004). Prior to their closure, UST was actively involved in attempting to corner the prison labor market. They intended to use inmate labor in every manner imaginable for profit.

Efforts to involve Union officials, management and labor leaders in rectifying this issue have been unsuccessful for some reason. Politicians and Union leaders are too busy arguing about outsourcing of our jobs overseas and seem to not have any interest in eliminating or addressing insourcing. The next time you or your neighbor loses your/their job; before looking toward China or India to see if you can see your job making it's way there, look the other way and see if perhaps some criminal that stole your car has just as easily stolen your job and income as well.

Through "Insourcing" of your jobs to inmates, those jobs have been lost permanently. Sadly, the reason for PIECP in the first place - inmate training - has been replaced with corporate profits as the goal. Lifers are being used nationwide in PIECP - men and women who will never be able to use their learned skills in the free markets. In addition the jobs and skills being taught to prisoners today no longer exist in the free markets...they've already been insourced to prison. To land such a job, the released prisoner has to return to his old cell, bunk and assigned prison industry job, exactly as planned and anticipated by prison industries and their corporate partners who are the only "winners" in this scheme.