The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 8, 2010
Blog back: Price per prisoner; private prisons' political payouts

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Nov. 5 Corrections contracts out-of-state facilities for 2,600 inmates

Here's a brief comment/conversation that starts with a suggestion/criticism and ends with ... well, you'll see:

And just what does this cost me as a tax payer? How about some numbers Ortiz? What's (sic) the costs to outsource to another State (Cost Per Bed) in regards to the actual costs to house inmates in a California State Prison? I know the overcrowding is an issue however, is this the most cost effective way to resolve the overcrowding? Let's do some reporting and state the facts and numbers......

We should have included the costs in the post.

For the record, the GEO Group agreement is to house 2,600 prisoners at $60 million per year. That rounds out to about $23,000 annually per inmate. The four-year contract starts in 2011.

Talks with Corrections Corp. of America aim to ship nearly 2,400 more California inmates out of state, besides the nearly 10,000 it currently houses. The two-year contract will cost $300 million annually, or about $24,000 per inmate.

California's per-inmate housing cost in 2008-09 was roughly $47,000, according to this Legislative Analyst's Office report.That was among the highest in the nation.

If you really want to dig into the topic, check out this report by the Pew Public Safety Performance Project. It's a tad dated, but interesting nonetheless.

Moving on ... Apparently, some users are still bothered over our recent series of posts on unions' political spending.

Since the Sacbee has been so forth coming (sic) with union campaign contributions I would thoroughly enjoy hearing how much influence the private prison corporations have enriched this newspaper.

To our knowledge, private prison companies aren't Bee advertisers (insert your own "captive audience" joke here). However, the comment by "wellwellwell" prodded us to see how much money The GEO Group Inc. and Corrections Corporation of America spent to influence Sacramento politics. Here are some figures pulled from state filings:

GEO Group Inc.
Between July 1 and Sept. 30 of this year, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company paid $33,252.87 to two lobbying firms,according to this report. It paid $30,000 in fees and retainers to Rodney J. Blonien & Associates Inc. plus $252.87 for expenses. It paid $3,000 in fees and retainers to McCabe & Co. Both lobbying firms are based in Sacramento.

Since Jan. 1, 2009, GEO has paid $212,134.67 to Blonein and $73,000 to McCabe, state records show.

On Aug. 23, GEO gave $25,900 to Gov.-elect Jerry Brown's campaign and the same amount on the same day to the campaign of his GOP rival, Meg Whitman.

Corrections Corporation of America
The Nashville-based firm spread the money around on dozens of campaigns and causes across the political spectrum.

Since Jan. 1, 2009, it has paid $338,653.73 to Sacramento lobbying firm Capitol Advocacy LLC., including $52,560.84 from July 1 through Sept. 30 of this year.

CCA's latest lobbying report reveals another $30,000 or so donated in $1,000 to $2,000 increments in September to politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Here's a table of another $300,000 in political contributions CCA reported:

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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