by Andrew Walden
With the UPW desperately hoping to somehow magically repatriate the Hawaii convicts being held in mainland prisons, State Auditor Marion Higa has graciously obliged with an audit of Hawaii’s private prison contracts. While she is unable to do anything about the rampant NIMBY-ism which will likely prevent any Hawaii prison construction, Higa goes right after another justification for the use of private prisons—cost.
We found the Legislature is not given sufficient information regarding the costs associated with the care and custody of offenders in out-of-state and in-state facilities. Instead, management chooses to report artificial cost figures derived from a calculation based on a flawed methodology, designed entirely on what is easiest for the department to report. Because funding is virtually guaranteed, management is indifferent to the needs of policymakers and the public for accurate and reliable cost information. As a result, true costs are unknown. Unfortunately, without accurate and reliable cost data, the State cannot appropriately address the continuing problem of prison overcrowding.
We found that department directors, past and present, have misused their procurement authority to circumvent the process that agencies are required by law to follow. By treating (Corrections Corporation of America) as a government agent, instead of a private for-profit corporation, the department was able to secure the company as the vendor of choice, relieving it from the open competition that the Hawai'i Public Procurement Code was designed to ensure.
Actually Hawaii’s 2006 contract is with the City of Eloy, Arizona which provides prison facilities to Hawaii. Eloy, in turn, contracts with CCA for prison space.
Moreover, the department director has ignored his oversight responsibility to administer contracts for the care and custody of inmates housed in out-of-state facilities, thus leaving the operational staff ill-prepared to contract for private prison beds beyond June 30, 2011, when the current contract expires. The director leaves for the next management team a department with no policies and procedures aligned with the Hawai‘i Public Procurement Code, no objective evaluation to measure CCA’s performance, and no plan for contracting for private prison beds to reasonably ensure fiscal responsibility in obtaining the best value at prices the State can afford.
Does any of this sound familiar? It should. The theme is lifted from a June 18, 2010 Star-Advertiser commentary by Kat Brady entitled, “Using private prisons costs more than it seems.” Brady was pushing for HB415—mandating this audit--to become law.
The UPW cares deeply about the opportunity to rack up more dues payers under its thumb, but NIMBYs rule. That’s why Cayetano was forced to start exporting prisoners in 1995 and why Lingle was unable to turn the policy around.
SA: Using private prisons costs more than it seems (June 18, 2010)
A Time Magazine article quoted former CCA Senior Manager of Corporate Quality Assurance Ronald T. Jones: "If the wrong party found out that a facility's operations scored low in an audit, then CCA could be subject to litigation, fines or worse." (So obviously we need an audit to bust CCA, duh. Or maybe this is disinformation designed to sidetrack gov’t employee unions.)
Jones analyzed and tracked weekly audit findings from corporate quality assurance audit teams. CCA classified incidents such as escapes, unnatural deaths and disturbances as less serious to make its performance look better in reports to government agency clients. For example: "Altered facility schedule due to inmate action" means there was a riot. Reports prepared for internal use included more details about the specific incidents….
In the 15 years since we have been sending our sentenced felons to the mainland, there has never been one independent audit. House Bill 415 will remedy that. It calls for an audit of the Department of Public Safety's contracts for prison beds, the closure of Kulani Correctional Facility, and asks for a recommendation on whether the continued housing of Hawaii inmates in non-state facilities is advisable. HB 415 is on the governor's desk awaiting her decision.
AP: Auditor blasts state's use of private prisons
Maui News: Bringing the prisoners home
Just ignore this: Halawa guards are fired over inmate abuse
This, too: A Surcharge on Safety: Outsized Overtime at the Department of Public Safety
But it is OK to look at this: UPW Thrill ride: Lawyers find 18 Mainland Hawaii prisoners willing to sue
More: Abercrombie Prison Plan runs into Concerns raised about training for corrections officers