Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Privatization push confirmed at Harris County jail

On Sunday, Grits broke the news that Corrections Corporation of America had submitted a bid to manage the Harris County Jail, citing information given to investors about a county-issued RFP which hadn't been reported in the local media. Last night, the local Fox TV affiliate confirmed it:
FOX 26 News obtained this news letter from Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison operation firm:

"We are also very excited about the opportunities that are before the industry and for which we feel well positioned. We're awaiting a decision from Arizona on its 5,000 bed request for proposal as well as a managed-only opportunity for approximately 9,000 beds in Harris County, Texas.”

County officials confirm private talks are underway to consider privatizing the county jail.
That's virtually the same wording cited in the Grits post from a Zacks.com analyst.

No one from the county would speak to the Fox reporter on the record. Commissioner Steve Radack "said the process is confidential and he won't know the full details until his staff finishes reviewing the proposal." Which ignores the larger questions: Why is the process "confidential" (read: secret) in the first place? Why are privatization schemes being hatched in private instead of in public discussions? Why do CCA investors know more about privatization plans for the Harris County Jail than local media and the taxpayers? The Harris County Jail is bigger than the prison systems in half the states; should something this big really be done in a back-room deal before the public even knows it's happening?

UPDATE: Here's a copy of the RFP issued by Harris County for privatizing jail services, obtained by your correspondent this a.m. under the Public Information Act.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Would Harris County be required to go out for competive bids because of the dollar amount involved here?

Anonymous said...

Government 101 - Local government is the most corrupt level of government...

These private prison industry (and commissary) companies have learned that there is no one guarding the henhouse at the local government level. And local voters are idiots who don't know how to hold elected accountable. This pretty much means anything goes.
It might be interesting to see if any of the commissioners made trips "to meet with CCA consultants" at places like vegas or other attractive locations. Or better yet, have they or family members purchased any CCA stock.
"CONFIDENTIAL" that is a code word for taxpayers to grab their wallet and put their hands over their asses.
Where are all the TEA PARTYERS on this stuff. Isn't this the kind of crap they are so determined to stop?

Anonymous said...

Uh never mind, went back and read your post again and saw where bids were being accepted. Anyone got a copy of the county's RFP?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Not yet, 8:54, nobody outside the inner sanctums of county government knew until this week an RFP had been issued. Good idea, though. I'll ask for it under open records.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Here's a copy of the RFP.

Anonymous said...

We all know why this process is confidential: bribes

Arce said...

Prison bidness RFPs are usually issued on the QT with some favored bidder getting the information early outside of normal channels. Or as in McLennan County, the bid is so complex that, without foreknowledge, no one but the favored (because of $$ behind the back???) bidder has a chance to make the filing deadline. If there is but one bidder, the process was corrupt, no two ways about it.

Jefe said...

You realize Radack hates the Sheriff and has a reason to imply this will happen. It is unlikely to go any further than this.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

That's what I thought last spring, Jefe, but now we discover they actually issued an RFP. I didn't think the idea would ever get that far.

DeathBreath said...

When there are private contracts associated with incarceration, you can be assured somebody is going to profit. Most of the time, it is the underhanded psychopaths running the jail or budget. Oink, oink, oink.

Generally speaking, when the feces hits the fan, the public ends up paying for the problems.

But, if you don't believe me, search the internet for the story about the two who escaped from a private facility in Arizona & killed people. Idiots!

Anonymous said...

U.F.B. the Harris County Commissioners are probably touting the ol' "this will save money, create jobs, reduce government" mantra. Would someone in Harris County please tell those folks that spending more tax dollars for a cronie, i mean "private industry" to perform the services does is not reduce government.

I am afraid that this is only a sign of things to come. Texas elected officials have longed to privatize the corrections sector of government. Due to all of the perks and insider trading info that is available to elected officials I am suprised it has happened sooner.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Harris County sought the advice of any consultants?

If so is this what they suggested?

The Comedian said...

Crony capitalism = business as usual in Texas. Rick Perry (and many others)has made a career of it. Why should we be surprised?

Private prisons are run for profit, therefore requiring cuts in staff, lower wages and fewer benefits for staff and chopping services to the bone. The "savings" then go to the bottom line of the corporation not to the taxpayers.

If privatization goes through, I wonder which Harris County officials will leave office in order to spend more time with their corporation.

Anonymous said...

I hope someone contacts Sheriff Stanley Glanz in Tulsa County (Oklahoma) (918) 596-5641 who lost his jail to privatization only to get it back years later. Follow the money!

Anonymous said...

4:01: Carl Griffith and Assoc. have been there for a while. Somebody needs to find out if they have submitted a report. I will guarantee you they have made a lot of money "studying" the jail this year. And probably still being paid monthly consultant fees.

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Alice M said...

I really appreciate you using the FOIA to get the RFP. That's good reporting. I hope the mainstream media catches up soon, and lets the public at large know this is going on. The idea that "saving the taxpayer money" is the reason for this deal is silly. For one thing, Garcia has been lowering costs already, and if Harris County really wanted to lower costs, it could always consider reducing the number of pretrial inmates and the number of people incarcerated for minor possession offenses. In fact, in Arizona, private prisons actually cost more!