Thursday, May 28, 2015

Privatized prisons back on the Arkansas agenda

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 7:07 AM

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I mentioned earlier this week a dinner being thrown by a lobbyist last night at Arthur's ritzy steakhouse in Chenal Valley on behalf of the Corrections Corporation of America.

It was to fete the governor's criminal justice task force following a get-acquainted session.

In material prepared for distribution CCA describes itself thusly:

CCA was founded in 1983 with the belief that Public Private Partnerships in Corrections delivers the best of both worlds: The innovation and cost-effectiveness of business with the accountability and oversight of government.

•As a full-service corrections management provider, we specialize in the design, construction, expansion and management of prisons, jails, detention facilities and residential reentry centers

Arkansas had one disastrous experience with a private prison operator in years past. But Gov. Asa Hutchinson has already edged into outsourcing by farming out some inmates to Texas to handle our current oversupply of inmates, at least in part. It remains to be seen if highly touted 2015 reforms reduce or increase prison populations. CCA is ready with post-sentence programs, too, you may be sure.

Roberts GR Strategies, the lobby firm that threw last night's dinner (which Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson said would be dutch treat after I questioned its classification by him and Rep. Matthew Shepherd as a "planned activity" of a governmental body and thus exempt from the new no-freebie constitutional amendment) employs Gov. Hutchinson's son Asa III and also has former Gov. Mike Beebe on its roster of colleagues. I like their chances of getting a hearing.

Public private partnerships. You know how they work, right? Public taxpayers provide the money. Private interests pocket the profits, after overhead for lobbyists, steak dinners,  big salaries, etc.

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