Gov. Bobby Jindal is trying for the second year in a row to fill holes in next year’s budget by selling one of the state’s prisons.
According to The Times-Picayune, a House committee on Tuesday will debate Jindal’s proposal to sell Avoyelles Correctional Center for $35 million. If the legislature approves Jindal’s proposal, the state would be allowed to enter into a 20-year contract with the private prison company for operating the prison.
Jindal’s bid to privatize state prisons in Winn and Allen parishes failed during last year’s session due to objections raised by prison workers, many of whom would have been laid off following the prison sale. State Sen. Eric Lafleur, D-Ville Platte, said last year that the “one-time fix” for the budget wasn’t worth the uncertainty about future costs the state could incur from the private prisons, costs that haven’t been specified in the legislation that allows for Avoyelles to go private.
“The sale of state assets has been championed, but that’s one-time money. It’s a lie, and it’s misleading the public,” LaFleur said at a 2011 legislative breakfast sponsored by the Louisiana Assciation of Business and Industry.
Some legislators who first heard Jindal’s newest prison proposal amid appropriations hearings in March have already raised concerns about the plan, according to The Advocate, citing disturbing details about the Corrections Corporation of America, the publicly traded largest private prison company in America, and its stipulation that states doing business with CCA should keep prisons at a minimum 90 percent occupancy:
The state Department of Corrections is slated to receive $445 million in next year’s budget, a more than $53 million decrease from the current spending year.
The agency would save money by shedding employees at the privatized and closed prisons. The actual profit from selling Avoyelles Correctional Center would not be pushed back into the budget.
State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, noted that Corrections Corporation of America approached 48 states about purchasing prisons following Ohio’s recent sale of a prison for $72.7 million.
Louisiana apparently was among the states to receive an overture from CCA. The corporation’s pitch included receiving assurances that states would keep the purchased prisons full of inmates.
“That bothers me when we want folks to go back into society. It really gives me angst,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, The Huffington Post, in a sarcastic post titled “Top 7 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Private Prison!”, quotes directly from CCA’s fourth-quarter investor report, a document that urges investment in private prisons for the following reasons:
1. High recidivism 2. One in every 100 U.S. adults are in prison or jail. 3. At current imprisonment rates, prison populations would grow by about 80,400 between 2012 and 2017, or by more than 13,000 per year, on average. 4. Constraints on new public prison construction and compelling value proposition have benefited the partnership corrections industry. 5. No meaningful, new competitor has entered industry in 20 years. 6. Filling Vacant Beds Drives Earnings. 7. Local governments reduce ongoing and long-term pension obligations
JUNE 16 This story in the Advocate tells us that the state Department of Education is taking a look at the Course Choice program. They're doing that because the legislature (probably responding to reporting by Tom Aswell, who does not work for the Advocate) ordered them to make sure that these private companies aren't signing six-year-olds up for high school Latin classes without their parents' knowledge or consent.
JUNE 17 Columnist James Gill writes about the recent complaint of death row inmates at Angola: it's hot as you-know-what in their cells, with the heat index topping 120 for months. Since we're not executing people anymore (Gill opines) then we should probably officially end the practice of putting people on death row. The prisoners, by the way, are not asking for cool breezes: they only ask for clean water and a temp that doesn't top 88.
JUNE 17 Here's blogger Ian McGibboney's take on the Baton Rouge plan to give bus tickets to homeless people who have a home with family who live far away. Taken from one point of view, it could be a good solution for some people. But McGibboney raises some good points here, including this one: Why not improve opportunities for everybody in Baton Rouge so these people can find the jobs they came to BR for?
JUNE 17 Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry talks here about the Zimmerman trial, but the real topic is the concept of a black man being more dangerous, somehow, than a white man in a fight. It is an interesting discussion, and one that may enlighten people who think that racism doesn't exist because nobody's keeping black folks from eating at the Woolworth lunch counter.
JUNE 17 Here's an interesting column from Baton Rouge Business Report's publisher, Rolfe McCollister, about anger against the government. It's brewing because of recent revelations about the IRS and the GSA, he says. It's readable, not just for the subject, but because of McCollister's collection of sources: Huffington Post, National Review and Wikipedia. That's a combo you don't see every day.
JUNE 17 In this American Press post, Jim Beam talks about the high school diploma track that lets kids who aren't interested in university get what they want and need out of high school. The diplomas get kids ready for technical school, Beam explains, and then he goes on to give some of the numbers. Some of these numbers might really surprise people who think technical school is second best. And, Beam adds, a college diploma does not guarantee anybody a job.
JUNE 17 The Washington Post reports here that OSHA is going to investigate the explosion that occurred last week in Donaldsonville, shortly after the other fatal accident in Geismar. As soon as the site is safe, State Police will be pulling out of the Donaldsonville plant to make way for OSHA investigators, the story reports. (Hey, here's an idea: why don't they go a couple miles down the road and figure out what happened when that massive sinkhole started sucking up land.)
JUNE 17 Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board of Supervisors in this post, taking a look at the many ways board members have served Gov. Jindal and not their university or their students. The board members are esteemed members of their fields, but can't seem to do anything but say "yes" to Jindal, regardless of the cost to LSU, Mann opines.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.