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Counterpoint: Too harsh on private industry
By Corrections Corporation of America
Published: 04/14/2007

"We are greatly dissatisfied and disappointed with Corrections.com publishing a highly inaccurate, poorly sourced and egregiously biased OP/Ed Dungeons for Dollars, 4/7/08. The writer’s agenda is clear: to undermine the privatized corrections industry, treating the subject in a wholesale manner without regard to any of the benefits, best practices or innovations achieved through public-private partnership.

While we respect the relevancy of all voices in this ongoing debate – including those of government officials, community leaders, civic organizers, industry representatives and local citizens – printing such an imbalanced piece, without even an equally visible counterpoint, is inconsistent with your organization’s mission “to improve communication, notification and collaboration among professionals worldwide.”

The private sector plays a vital role in the corrections industry – and, by extension, in the financial and informational support of Corrections.com. This reality seems to have been dismissed by its editor, who featured such a slanted, if not hyperbolic, piece in a resource read, respected and supported by corrections leaders, executives, professionals, academicians and others.

We must emphasize that Mr. Dawe’s “figures” about the private corrections industry are outdated and inaccurate, which might account for his failure to plainly cite his sources. For example, the “53 percent turnover rate” mentioned in the article comes from The Corrections Yearbook 2000, which includes data almost a decade old, from 1999. Moreover, that figure was based on the responses of only 29 private facilities – a small percentage of the total number of correctional facilities operating nine years ago and, therefore, a statistically inaccurate representation of the industry.

On your Web site, CCNN states:
“Corrections.com always welcomes story ideas, and we encourage corrections practitioners to submit articles. Pieces from those outside the corrections industry also will be considered as long as they are relevant to the corrections field or help corrections practitioners.”

As we enter our 25th year as the founder and leader of the private corrections industry, CCA operates more than 65 correctional facilities nationwide with nearly 17,000 corrections professionals. On any given day, these dedicated men and women are responsible for the safe and secure housing of approximately 75,000 inmates, making CCA the fifth-largest corrections system in the country. These accomplishments certainly qualify CCA among those “corrections practitioners.”

As such, we find no relevance or help from obvious propaganda by a pro-union, anti-privatization, self-serving activist. It is doubtful that other vendors who advertise on your Web site and who partner with private corrections companies like CCA find this article useful either.

Further, we hope that the editorial staff at CCNN recognize and respect the vital role private vendors assume in the corrections industry and act accordingly – with better sourced features and more balanced opinion pieces that stimulate healthy debate, inspire industry improvements and, generally, more productively serve the interests of this audience.

Steven Owen
Director, Marketing / Company Spokesperson
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA),

Editor's response: This opinion piece was submitted by Corrections Corporation of America after Corrections.com published "Dungeons for Dollars." CCA has and does advertise on the Corrections.com website, but it does not financially support Corrections.com in any other manner. Both "Dungeons for dollars" and the above opinion piece have been published because of the ongoing discussion about private and public correctional facilities.


  1. Brian D on 04/17/2008:

    To The Editor: Mr. Owens is correct when he states that our statistics are old and that only 29 facilities responded to the Corrections Yearbook. We would welcome any new verifiable statistics the industry cares to offer. However, what Mr. Owens doesn’t say is why those statistics are outdated. On February 20, 2008 the Associated Press reported the following, “Corrections Corp. of America spent almost $2.5 million in 2007 to lobby on legislation and regulations related to the private prison industry…. The company lobbied on the privatization of Bureau of Indian Affairs prisons and on the Public Safety Act, which would outlaw private prisons, as well as the Private Prison Information Act, which would force private prisons to make public the same information government jails must provide.” Not more than government agencies must provide, but the same as they must provide. Why would CCA spend over $2.5 million to keep information away from the public? If they were doing such a bang up job you would think they would want us to see how well they are doing. But they spend $2.5 million to do just the opposite. We’ve heard the claim about protecting corporate proprietary interests. This is a despicable and dangerous argument in my profession. In public corrections when one of us finds a solution to a problem or comes up with a new idea we share it knowing it may save a life. That’s what corrections.com is about, sharing information so we all benefit. Are these private prison corporations arguing proprietary interests over human life? Indeed they are. There is another reason why it is difficult to get accurate information out of the private prison industry in general and CCA in particular. Mr. Gus Puryear IV is CCA’s top lawyer. He was featured in a recent Time magazine article on March 13, 2008, “When Mr. Puryear felt there was highly sensitive or potentially damaging information to CCA, I would then be directed to remove that information from an audit report," Robert T. Jones CCA Manager. “The former CCA manager, alleges that the company even began keeping two sets of books — one for internal use that described prison deficiencies in telling detail, and a second set that Jones describes as "doctored" for public consumption, to limit bad publicity, litigation or fines that could derail CCA's multimillion dollar contracts with federal, state or local agencies.” This is not an insolated incident. The media is full of articles describing failed audits, hidden records and contract breeches. For nine years I have openly offered to debate the private prison industry and I make that offer again. I am a mere Correctional Officer nothing more, nothing less. They can bring all the experts and high priced attorneys they want and I’ll come with only two other people. If corrections.com is willing to sponsor this debate just tell us when and where. But they won’t debate us, they never have, because it’s an argument they cannot win. That is why they are willing to spend $2.5 million a year to make sure the public never knows what’s really going on in those “Dungeons for Dollars”. Brian Dawe Executive Director American Correctional Officer

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