Skip to comments.Union Lobbying Helps Keep Prison Privatization Bill Locked Up
Posted on 05/08/2012 7:20:01 AM PDT by MichCapCon
A handful of House Republicans are keeping a prison privatization bill in solitary confinement.
House Bill 5174 would allow the Michigan Department of Corrections to house prisoners in privately operated prisons. What's more, the measure includes a requirement that the private prisons would have to save 10 percent in costs to qualify.
Even with this savings language, the bill remains bogged down in the Michigan House where the GOP enjoys a 63-47 majority and only 56 yes votes are needed for passage.
It's not a secret in Lansing that a group of Republicans, most of whom have prisons in their districts, is causing the logjam.
Michigan corrections officers unions and the United Auto Workers are active in those prison districts and also at the capitol. A union tent was on the capitol lawn the day the prison privatization vote was supposed to take place.
A more expensive state-operated prison likely would be closed and replaced by the privately owned North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin if the bill is enacted. Some observers argue that this appears to be one of the strongest trumps the unions are using to keep the bill penned up.
At the moment, it appears that most, if not all, of the Republican hold-outs will have no primary election opponents this summer. That could also be a factor in the success the unions have been enjoying on this issue because the unions could help an upstart challenger enter one of the primary races if the sitting House member decided to support the prison privatization bill.
Senate legislation that nearly mirrors House Bill 5174 has already been passed.
On Wednesday, House Bill 5174 was on the House agenda, but failed to move.
The bill needs some tweaking, Ari Adler, spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, said after being asked why the bill wasn't taken up for a vote.
Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, the sponsor of the bill, also dismissed the House's failure to move the measure as a question of simply making a few changes.
There are a couple of minor changes to be made, Rep. Bumstead said. We want to make sure our ducks are all in a row and do it right. It needs a few tweaks and then we think we'll have it to where it will have a chance to pass.
Personally I’m not a fan of private prisons. The idea of making it profitable to lock people up makes me nervous in an environment rife with government and corporate corruption. Prisons should be largely self supporting and prison labor should feed and clothe themselves while chain gangs do road work etc.
If anyone wants on the Michigan Cap Con ping list, let me know.
Most people who have driven through Michigan come to the mistaken conclusion that the State Motto must be “Prison Area, Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers”.
LOL I lived up near Big Rapids for a few years and everyone thought I had done time in prison because I told them I was from Jackson.
I’m not a big fan of private prisons either, especially when the “Joe Arpaio solution” exists.
The major world powers insisted that “military field conditions” are not abusive or violations of human rights in various treaties. Thus relatively inexpensive “tent city” jails are both acceptable and very economical.
And the best possibility has not even been considered yet. This is that when such tent cities are put out in rural areas, the inmates can perform useful outdoor labor, such as ecological restoration and in some cases infrastructure improvements.
Ironically, this would not be done for punitive reasons, but as a reward for good behavior. Here’s the logic.
1) “Brick” prisons tend to be overcrowded, with minimal exercise, activity, constant noise, bad odor, and stink. A rural tent city prison provides fresh air, sunshine, something positive to do, much less stress and crowding, so is a reward for those who behave.
2) Once rural tent city prisons are in use, the brick prisons are much less crowded and stressful. They can be used just for the extremely violent and dangerous, physically ill, and those inmates who need to be in the city for court and other reasons including frequent visitors. So tent cities improve the entire prison system.
3) Some of the places with greatest need for such labor are Indian reservations. By an agreement with tribes, they could be tasked to do infrastructure work that could later be finished by Indian contractors, thus benefiting them in two ways.