By PATRICK BANKS
One way to make a fast buck in this country is to open a prison. You won’t be lacking for tenants in this incarceration-happy land and the right’s fetish for privatizing anything that can be privatized means that the corrections industry isn’t monopolized by the mean old government. Build a prison, and you’ll make a mint. Just don’t do it in Maine, because private prisons are currently verboten in this state.
“Currently” is the key word here, because of LD 1095. This bill would, A – allowMaine prisoners to be transfered to private prisons in other states and B – pave the way for private prisons to be built in the state of Maine itself. Given the spotty track record of private prisons elsewhere in the country, Mainers have cause to be worried about allowing the likes of the Corrections Corporation of America or
the GEO Group to set up shop in this state. The Bangor Daily News sounded an alarm against them in an editorial late last year. ( http://
“If states turn over their responsibility to house prisoners safely and humanely to private
for-profit prisons, they lose some control over the conditions in which those prisoners
live. And they risk having prisoners hurt each other. Though the operators of private prisons may have the best intentions, they will be tempted to increase profits by cutting corners on medical care, food and living conditions. Security also can be compromised in the effort to reduce costs, which in turn could lead to catastrophic consequences for prison and public safety. In August, a brazen escape by three men from a private prison in Arizona led law enforcement officials on a multistate search. State officials suggested the private prison security was lax.”
In addition, NPR recently ran a two part series about private prisons that should give one pause:
And here: http://www.npr.org/2011/03/28/13485580/privateprison-promises-leave-texas-towns-in-trouble
Anybody who want’s to testify against this bill has a chance to do so soon: the legislative Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety is holding a public hearing on LD 1095 at 9 am, April 29 in Room 436 of the State House.
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