Here we have more evidence that appointees of Sarah Palin are influenced by those who stand to profit off the appointee’s decisions. It is also more evidence they were not chosen for their expertise nor is their goal to make wise decisions for society as whole. Decisions are made for the powerful elite who are in the background pulling strings. This problem of overincarceration for profit is happening in many states, but Alaskans don’t seem to care about the people harmed by over incarceration, just the money it costs them.
This is the article from the ADN yesterday, the link no longer works:
The new mega-prison rising up in a remote area of the Mat-Su is drawing heat from state lawmakers. One influential Republican senator is exploring whether the state would be better off if it never opened. A Democrat says the prison project may be little more than an effort for the borough to realize its dream of an economic boom.
There are communities in Arizona and Colorado which were built around the prison industry. The grocery stores, restaurants, uniform shops, hotels for family or friends of those who have to spend a lot of time and money to come visit their loved one who is incarcerated in the middle of nowhere. They also have little phone contact due to contracts for prisoner phones given to private companies charging an arm and a leg for phone calls. The Hudson prison in Colorado where Alaska houses it’s inmates charges the prisoner/families $10 to have a video conference with family. A nice way to make a profit due to Alaska’s inability to have insight or compassion. The people of Alaska rejected the private prison industry, but our prisoners were sent to one anyway.
Some communities where there is economic devastation have figured out a way to have a booming economy, cash in on the over-incarceration by building their own piece of the American Gulag System for profit whether public or private. They pay no heed to the morality of harsh and unjust laws or the destruction of human beings and their families. They leave the harmful effects for the rest of society to deal with. The people always end up footing the bill in a big way. Prisons cause physical health problems, mental health problems and those incarcerated have their ability to live in society removed in many ways. One piece of evidence for their lack of humanity lies in the large number of supermax prisons and supermax units inside prisons, they are harsh solitary confinement units where people are tortured until they are mad and can no longer function in society. That includes children, BTW. They don’t mind using those non-violent drug offenders, the chemically dependent and the mentally ill as human cattle for profit. Demonizing of the mentally ill or chemically dependent for convictions is the specialty of prosecutors.
At more than 1,500 beds, the Goose Creek Correctional Center will be Alaska's biggest prison by far. If and when it opens, the state expects to bring home some 1,000 inmates now housed in a Colorado private prison and relieve crowding in regional prisons around the state. Goose Creek is about 80 percent complete and expected to ramp up gradually starting in March 2012.
"A city within a city," says Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt.
Just the sentiment we would expect from the Palin appointed Commissioner. Build it and they will come. They can fill it immediately with the 1,000 in Colorado, but they will have to find a way to get 500 more prisoners to fill the other beds. Better notify the DOL and judges. What a surprise this is in the Wasilla area, just tack this bill onto the Wasilla indoor sports complex disaster. With the drug problem in Wasilla they can get that prison over capacity quickly. Round and round we go, where it stops everyone knows, death, mental illness, homelessness and re-incarceration. There will be no money for chemical dependency treatment, job training, education, assistance after release, but they will frequently call those inmates to come to Bible studies.
The giant prison was the centerpiece of 2004 legislation authored by the Valley's most powerful legislator at the time, then-Sen. Lyda Green, a Republican from Wasilla who co-chaired the Senate Finance Committee. Senate Bill 65 included provisions to build or expand prisons around the state, which cemented the support of other legislators.
The legislation didn't specify where the Mat-Su prison would be built. Borough officials took the lead on that, but Schmidt was part of the committee that approved the site.
Nearly seven years later, the vision of the prison construction law hasn't been realized. Legislators are demanding answers on a number of fronts:
Yes, “Nearly seven years later”, after not thoroughly researching the project, not securing oversight, knowing all along about the huge costs of the project, and knowing about the dicey-ness of the people involved they are now very concerned. Alaska’s legislators are reacting because they realize the people in their area got screwed, not because the expansion of prisons makes no sense or will harm thousands of people and their families. They are only motivated by money, not common sense or humanity. But really, why would they just give the DOC and the Mat-su Valley control over all this money and not expect a problem?
• Costs. The state expects to spend about $50 million a year to run Goose Creek, plus another $17.8 million in annual lease payments to the Mat-Su Borough for building it. That compares with about $20 million a year to hold inmates in Colorado.
Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, the co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is looking into what it would cost to mothball the new prison.
This is like closing the door after the cows get out. Alaska had the opportunity to see the mistakes other states made in their poor decisions about their own corrections departments, yet decided to copy those mistakes for profits for a few at the expense of the people of the state. Of course stopping the project would be the prudent thing to do, but those in power will never allow that. Eventually the prison system will bankrupt the state and that is when changes will be made. The lives of many will lay in the wake of this decision.
"If we were to shut down Goose Creek, not open it up, we just pay the expense, heat it?" Stedman asked at a recent Finance Committee oversight hearing.
That cost would be about $22.5 million, said Leslie Houston, director of administrative services for the state Department of Corrections. That includes the lease payments, utility and maintenance costs, and the cost of hiring private security to guard the empty prison, she said.
• Location. The prison is being built south of the Goose Bay State Game Refuge just off Point MacKenzie Road. It's an area of empty land more than 20 miles from Wasilla. The site was picked even though it lacked water, sewer or natural gas lines. It's also far from major roads, hospitals, and courthouses in Palmer and Anchorage.
That generates overtime for corrections officers and/or more corrections jobs. They have to have staff transport people, they have to buy vehicles and fuel. They never think of the children or other family who will not be able to visit their loved ones very often who are incarcerated far away from town. The welfare of those who are incarcerated and their families don’t enter into their plans.
There's disagreement over whether building there on land donated by the borough ended up costing or saving the state money.
"It's clear that we're being held up for greater costs than we anticipated because of the remote location of the facility as decided by the Mat-Su folks," said state Sen. Johnny Ellis, an Anchorage Democrat.
One big cost item that caught senators off guard was $22.5 million to create a water and waste water utility with a single customer: the prison. Other customers could tie in later. The state is putting in $1.7 million directly, but will mainly pay for the new system through higher monthly bills, senators were told.
"When I voted for the bill I didn't know we were going to be ripped off on the utilities," Ellis said. "I didn't know they were going to locate it out in the middle of nowhere, for whatever purposes."
It was known well before this utility system was installed that it would cost millions and was insane. Why did they not do anything before the project was even started? Note the utility system was designed so others could tie into it for the businesses which would grow around the prison. Who owns the land around the Goose Creek Prison site?
He suggested that Mat-Su officials settled on that site in the hope of boosting development of a sparsely populated area.
"It's part of the boomer dream of the Mat-Su valley," the senator said. "And the rest of us get to pay for it."
Not so, say Mat-Su and state corrections officials.
Well, if the corrections officials say something it must be true she said snarkily.
Elizabeth Gray, acting borough manager, said a site considered in Palmer would have required expensive upgrades to utilities and may have cost more in the long run than the Goose Creek location.
"That site was chosen after a long, arduous public process," she said.
But others, including former Corrections Commissioner Marc Antrim, say the Palmer site, in an old gravel pit southwest of town, had much better road access. While utility upgrades were needed, they would not have been that expensive, he said.
"We had final rights on the project," said Antrim, who was replaced in 2006 by Schmidt, an appointee of then-Gov. Sarah Palin. "If it was Goose Creek or nothing, I would have rather started all over again than ended up out there."
• Crowding. Currently, Alaska's prison system is operating at capacity, with about 3,800 inmates in state facilities, corrections officials say. But while some prisons and jails have empty beds, others are overcrowded.
Then there are also about 1,000 in Colorado.
OTHERS FEEL LEFT OUT
Among the crowded facilities is the Yukon-Kuskokwim Correctional Center in Bethel, which has had to send dozens of inmates to Nome and still holds more than it is designed for.
That is a sore point for Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, the other co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
Senate Bill 65, which he co-sponsored, was supposed to expand prisons in Seward, Fairbanks and Bethel. But that didn't happen.
"There has been work done. There have been plans," Hoffman said at the oversight hearing last week. "Why hasn't this been brought forth further?"
Schmidt said the department's focus has been on Goose Creek and that the law provided for local communities to finance and build prisons, with the state then leasing the space. In Bethel, for instance, the city council went back and forth but ultimately decided not to take on the project, Schmidt said.
Hoffman wasn't satisfied. Why couldn't the state work on Goose Creek and other prisons at the same time?
"Is that beyond the capabilities of the department?" he thundered.
Because so much money went to Goose Creek, "other parts of the state have been completely neglected," said Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage.
Officials with the state and the Mat-Su Borough say they are trying to answer the senators' concerns and questions.
Schmidt said he understands why legislators are frustrated with the stalled efforts in Seward, Fairbanks and Bethel.
"Those three projects did not work out, but not for lack of trying," he said.
Meanwhile, Goose Creek remains under scrutiny.
Senate Bill 65 capped its construction costs at $135,000 per prison bed. With a project budget of $240 million and 1,536 beds, that works out to more than $156,000 for each.
"So basically you broke the law," Hoffman accused the department at last week's hearing. Houston, the administrative director for corrections, said she wouldn't put it that way. The law allows inflation to be factored in and the department's internal auditor is still calculating that, she said.
You can bet they are busy getting the Department of Law to manipulate the laws for them, but they "wouldn't put it that way."
And Mat-Su officials stress that the project is coming in under budget at about $225 million. That doesn't count furnishings, or the new water and waste water treatment system.
Stretching the truth.
The state cut costs by downsizing the prison from a proposed 2,200 beds and changing it from maximum to medium security, the classification that most inmates fall under, Schmidt said.
Non-violent drug offenders don’t need maximum security or generally incarceration.
Antrim, the former commissioner, questioned why the state switched course. A maximum security mega-prison would have given the state more flexibility, especially if the prison population continues to grow. The decision to downsize and redesign the facility cost the state two years, he said. The delay meant a much higher interest rate, state officials acknowledge.
Sen. Stedman said he is going to consult with Gov. Sean Parnell and other legislators about whether Goose Creek should open at all.
"As far as the viability of mothballing it, I would not discount that," Stedman said.
They will never mothball it. There are too many people who have been put in place for protection and too many who can potentially benefit from the business opportunities it will generate. I wonder how many solitary confinement or as they like to call them here in Alaska, administrative segregation beds there are. A psychiatrist, some nurses, some social workers and a psychologist at Hiland Mountain tried to have me put in administrative segregation because, "You are a trouble maker." Translated into reality that means I wrote greivances about violations of civil rights and denial of health care. How is that shutting up the "trouble maker" thing workin' out for ya now?
I would like to know what caused Wesley Shandy’s death at GEO’s (Cornell/Wackenhut) Hudson Correctional Facility in Colorado. Deciding to leave the prisoners in GEO’s private prison in Hudson County Colorado is not an option. Many of the former companies involved in the corruption to get the private prison industry into Alaska have now been acquired and renamed. They lie about services, deny medical care, and have very poorly trained underpaid staff working at their prisons.
They refuse to give inmates medical care in a large number of cases and certainly withhold medication for the majority. They even make inmates pay for visits with health care providers. They have almost no chemical dependency treatment, unhealthy food, little job training, little education, little counseling, poor or nonexistent mental health treatment, some of the maintenance of DOC buildings goes undone, and where is the help transitioning when inmates are released into homelessness. There is however plenty of cash for a money pit prison in Wasilla so some Schweinhunds can make money off the people of Alaska and the souls who will be housed there. The more beds there are the more people they will find to lock up. Did the legislators not have a clue when all the harsh laws were passed what they were up to? Does anyone check to see if the inmates are getting medical care, healthy food, rehabilitation services, etc.? It is clear you can’t believe anything that comes out of the DOC. When asked questions they just play games.
Today the ADN remade the article from yesterday and revealed what the real goal of some legislators and most likely the DOC is, an attempt to private-ize Goose Creek Prison. Surprise, surprise. After all the corruption around private prison corporations (and one of the main players recently arrested for pedophilia) they are trying to use shock doctrine scenario to force the public to accept it. The people of Alaska already rejected private prisons once and had a huge mess to clean up after the corrupt private prison corporations were run off, including lots of trials. Start checking for large gifts, vacations and large sums of money. Have any GEO Corporation executives been in Alaska recently?
"I believe the Mat-Su Borough and the State should sit down together and explore the possibility of a private corrections company leasing and operating the Goose Creek Correctional facility," Keller said in a written statement issued to news media.
The only place they figured they could rectally insert a private prison into the collective backsides of the public without even using lubricant would be Wasilla. They are used to it after Sarah Palin left them with a huge bill to pay off. The arguments continue to only be about money and the DOC talks about how honest their numbers are. This should be very alarming to everyone.