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March 14, 2013 09:05 AM UTC

Why is Corrections Corporation of America still sucking down Colorado taxpayer money?

  • by: For People Over For-Profits

(Corporate welfare of the worst kind? – promoted by Colorado Pols)

prisonmoneyRight now, the prison population in Colorado, as it is nationally, is declining. The inmate population growth in the 1990s that resulted in for-profit prisons popping up like mushrooms to absorb the overflow is receding.
Which begs the question: why are we still sending taxpayer money to Corrections Corporation of America and subsidizing their economic race to the bottom for jobs? If you work at a state facility in Colorado, you make a decent living, staring in the $40,000 range, with health insurance and PERA.
CCA pays entry-level guards $12.66 an hour, about $25,000 a year – low enough wages to qualify for public assistance. And that doesn’t include even lower-paying administrative jobs. It’s the Walmartization of the public safety sector and it comes will all the short-cuts we’ve come to expect from that trend. 

The Colorado Department of Corrections is closing prison beds, but most of those closures are in state facilities – the public sector has absorbed 93% of the cost savings. CCA has gone nearly untouched – until now.
The Department of Corrections is recommending the closure of 318 beds at CCA’s Kit Carson facility, and CCA is expected to fight back. They, and their lobbyist Mike Feeley, a Democrat who works for Brownstein Hyatt & Farber, would like to keep profiting from the misery of others. Feeley, by the way, has pulled in over $264,000 in lobbying fees since 2007. At $12.66 an hour a Kit Carson guard would have to work 20,858 hours or 869 24-hour days to make that much.
Folks, it’s pretty simple here: the Hickenlooper DOC has started down the right track by drawing down the state subsidy to an out-of-state, for profit corporation answerable to their shareholders, not taxpayers. We’re at a critical juncture, and the choices being made will impact southern Colorado for years to come.
Just down the road from nearly every low-wage paying for-profit prison, sits a taxpayer-accountable,state-run facility. CCA is trying to hold rural Colorado economies hostage in an effort to extract more corporate welfare from Coloradans. Workers in rural CO shouldn't be pawns in some corporate game,  and poverty level wage jobs are not the economic development that we need in rural Colorado.
We need to stop sending money to CCA and invest it in our state workers at public facilities at home in Colorado.


19 thoughts on “Why is Corrections Corporation of America still sucking down Colorado taxpayer money?

  1. To say that Mike Feeley wants to profit from the misery of others is slander.  You don't know his mind.  Do you know him at all?  I do.  Did he make all that money lobbying for CCA as you seem to imply?  Of course not.  Did much of it come from lobbying on issues supported by progressives?

    Unfair bullshit phraseology slander.  Suck it.

    1. Actually you can go yourself to the Secreatry of State's website and see that Mr. Feeley has collected over $264,000 in lobbying fees just from CCA since early 2007. He's collected hundreds of thousands more from other organizations, some progressive and others, like pay day lenders, not so much.

      Interesting that CCA never paid Feeley a dime untilthe 2007 session. Feeley was Ritter's campaign treasurer and as soon as Ritter is sworn in CCA starts paying Feeley thousands of dollars a month for lobbying. I'm sure it's all just a coincidence though and that Mike Feeley isn't actually a shameless influence peddler who's getting rich off the misery and incarceration of thousands.

    2. What kind of clueless nimrod would mouth off about slander in a situation like this? Do -you- know what's in Feeley's mind, or are you just the village idiot?

    3. Dear "Daft" "Punk" (how appropriate!):

      Great diatribe.  Do you have Tourette's syndrome, or did you learn this from your mom?

      "Slander," = The action or crime of making a <em>false spoken</em> statement damaging to a person's reputation.

      What part of "false spoken" don't you understand?

      Truth is an absolute defense in libel or slander cases.

      In other news, this is worth a read, on the subject at hand:

      March 11, 2013

      Colorado Paying Millions For Unneeded Private Prisons

      By Colorado Public News and Ann Imse

      The private prison company Corrections Corp. of America shuttered the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in 2010. The prison, in Walsenburg in southeastern Colorado, was the town's second largest employer

      The private prison company Corrections Corp. of America shuttered the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in 2010. The prison, in Walsenburg in southeastern Colorado, was the town's second largest employer…


      1. Well fuck me.

        I know Mike Feley and I think he's a pretty good guy.

        Does the private prison industry suck?  Yes!

        Does the revolving door of legislative work and influence peddlng suck? Yes!

        Did this press release give any evidence for Mike Feeley's state of mind?  Hell no!

        Did you know he's a pro bono lead attorney leading the lawsuit to overturn TABOR?


        1. I also know Feeley and think well of him. When a firm takes on a client they may be able to clearly see the path in their future if their client is Tobacco and it is beyond 1980. But, predicting a decline in prison population did not happen until it happened. After a certain point you have the client you have and, as David points out, to not represent their interests opens onesself to tremendous liability

          1. This is laughably pathetic. Feeley is not acting as CCAs attorney, he's their lobbyist and he's free to disassociate with any client he likes at any time

            You also seem to be implying that being associated private prisons only became ethically objectionable when the prison population plummeted. This is, of course, nonsense. Profiting off of maximal human misery has always been morally reprehensible. 

            If you don't believe me go read the CO Springs Gazette editorial today on the topic. According to them Feeley lobbied for a guaranteed number of inmates for CCA last year! That's reprehensible

            1. Well, we'll disagree. Re your last paragraph, wouldn't that just be good business? Whether running a hospital or a prison having knowledge of the number of clients you will serve allows you to manage your expenses. And, that may have been what is hs initial request was but what did they finally reach in a substantial agreement? there is behavior called "bargaining". BTW, welcome to Pols. Or welcome back, whatever

  2. To the rest of the issue… CCA has pissed off lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the past with rate increase "extortion", and the state doesn't really save much (if any) money from CCA facilities.

    As we draw down the prison population, private facilities should generally be the first to go. They were the ones built on the prison population boom, they were the ones who lobbied for the job, and in many cases they were behind some of the lobbying for increased penalties that led to the boom. They're also the ones that decided it was worth a risk in investing, and if our prison population is declining such that we no longer need facilities, then they need to suck up that risk.

  3. Wow, anger much? The fact is, CCA makes money keeping people incarcerated and paying workers as little as they can get away with. The inmates are miserable and so are the staff. In the 2004 Crowley riot, which state corrections officers literally had to clean up, CCA guards walked off the job. Feeley made a huge chunk of change keeping CCA in business in Colorado, and given the declining prison population that's not needed any more.

  4. Amen…and thanks Pols for promoting this…the for-profit prison industry is one of the un-holiest of scams. they profit from human misery and perpetuate the criminal culture…to me they are ethically at the same place as payday lenders.

  5. The wages at CCA prisons, assuming this figure is accurate and there is no reason to believe it isn't, has risen by less than a buck in seven years.

    Seven years ago, CCA's President/CEO (now board chair) John Ferguson made $22.5 million in salary, stock awards and options, plus probably another hundred grand in perks.

    Figure it out.  Adjusting for inflation, he made about a thousand times what a current guard makes at Kit Carson.

    What does that work out to?

    It means that while Ferguson was relaxing in his opulent office in a $1,000 chair, or flying to Vegas in the corporate jet, a guard would have to work almost three years to earn what Ferguson made in one day.

  6. Don't know if anyone is listening to JBC but Rep Gerou just said that GOP house and senate members would vote against the entire state budget over cuts to private prisons.

    Our prison population is declining and the only way to protect CCA's profits is to keep shovelling prisonsers in their doors. GOP is ready to go to the mat over $6 million in cuts to billion dollar company. I thought they cared about taxpayers and government waste? Nothing but corporate welfare fueled by the flesh trade.

    Brownstein, Hyatt, & Farber and should be utterly ashamed to be profiting off of this "industry." Not sure how any alleged Democrat could be associated with this.

    1. They're lobbists. Their main income comes from representing the interests of corporations. So yes they will put the profits of their clients before what's best for the people. Anything else would be malpractice.

      1. Lobbyists aren't required to accept every client that approaches them. They are allowed to exercise discretion and judgment when accepting clients. Obviously Feeley and the folks at Brownstein have made the judgment that their values do not preclude them from representing a disgusting and explosive industry. 

        Id like to think that my values are worth more than $264,000 but if that's the price Feeley has set for himself that's his call. 

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