Private corrections company in state prisons 'has failed'

Jul 7, 2017 Daniel Lee Harris, Torrington

Editor:

I seem to be confused. Did the Wyoming Department of Corrections just give another $5 million to Corrections Corporation of America, for a total of $10 million? In a state that has been crying "budget crisis" for the last few years, I find it hard to understand how the DOC can justify the expenditure.

I mean, they didn't give the guards their 3 percent pay raises, and it is my understanding that one of the reasons the DOC is having a hard time keeping employees is the cost of housing. And, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, "the days of $100 a barrel oil now look like an aberration that will not recur," so we better get used to the new way of life.

In 2000, Wyoming had a recidivism rate of 24 percent. Now the rate is somewhere around 34 percent, according to the Wyoming Board of Parole Strategic Plan 2017-2018. For all of this, I believe the cause to he shipping inmates out of state, so in the end it cost more to deal with

CCA than just the housing.

Citing data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the recidivism rate for prisoners is almost 77 percent of offenders are being re-arrested within five years, and two recent studies concluded that prisoners housed at privately-operated facilities have higher-than-average recidivism rates. This appears to be harmful.

There is a term in legalese -- "deliberate indifference," meaning indifference to consequences, indifference to the safety and rights of others, wantonness, more than ordinary negligence. When

you know that what you are about to do is going to cause harm, that is deliberate indifference.

It could be argued that shipping inmates out of state causes harm. So, once you know that this

causes harm, why would they make a contract with one of the worst companies in the country?

There is another issue: Years ago the then-DOC director Judy Uphoff stated "We are taking our prisons back," I always wondered you had the prisons before? If it was the inmates, then you might want to give the prisons back to them, as the cost of housing an inmate is now somewhere in the neighborhood of$65,000 per year. When l was first locked up, it was $35 a day. That worked out to be 12,775 per year, and with that there were education opportunities, work and programming -- all of this and the lowest recidivism rate in the nation.

Sometimes we just have to admit this experiment has failed.

Editor's note: The writer is an inmate at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution