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Stop the privatization of New Jersey's Jails

Links to Anti and Pro Privatization pages

The ACA - anti or pro privatization?
Privatization America's Private Gulag - anti privatization page
Correctional Services Corporation - pro privatization company
Law Enforcement resource list - great list of sites
Avalon Community Services - pro privatization company
Wackenhut Corrections - pro privatization company
Corrections Corporation of America - pro privatization company
The Keepers Voice - anti privatization

I am a Correction Officer not a security guard!

What would the average citizen say if it were proposed that a police officer be assigned to a neighborhood which was inhabited by no one but criminals and those officers would be unarmed, patrol on foot, and be heavily outnumbered??? I wager that the overwhelming public response would be that the officers would have to be crazy to accept such an assignment. However as you read this, such a scenario is being played out in all areas of New Jersey.

I am a New Jersey County Correction Officer, not a guard! I work in the Camden County Jail. I am empowered by the State of New Jersey to enforce its laws, rules, and regulations in the Department of Corrections. In short, I am a policeman. My beat is totally inhabited by criminals, who, by definition, are people who tend to break laws, rules, and regulations. I am outnumbered by as much as 90, 100, and even 150 to 1 at various times during my workday, and contrary to popular belief, I work without a sidearm. In short, my neck is on the line every minute of every day I work.

The Correctional Facility

A Correctional Facility is a very misunderstood environment. The average person has little knowledge of its workings. Society sends its criminals to correctional facilities and as time passes, each criminal's crime fades from our memory until the collective prison/jail population becomes a vision of hordes of bad people being warehoused away from decent people in a place where they can cause no further harm. There is also the notion that prison/jail inmates cease to be a problem when they are incarcerated.

Correctional facilities are full of violence perpetrated by the inmate population against each other and the staff of the facility. Felonies are committed daily but they are called "unusual incidents or minor disturbances" and rarely result in public prosecution. Discipline is handled internally and, as a rule, the public is never informed of these crimes unless somebody drops a dime to the newspaper. In the course of maintaining order in these facilities, many officers have endured the humiliation of being spit upon and having urine and feces thrown at them. Uncounted correction officers have been punched, kicked, bitten, stabbed and slashed with homemade weapons, taken hostage and even murdered in the line of duty, all the while being legally mandated to maintain their professional composure and refraining from any retaliation which could be the basis for their termination.

In addition to those dangers , correction officers face hidden dangers in the form of AIDS, TB, and HEPATITUS. Courts are now imposing longer sentences and the inmate population is increasing far beyond the system's designed capacity. As the public demands more police on the street, more and more correction officers are trading in their duties as jail cops to become street cops. And can you blame them, besides all that I've already spoke about the biggest enemy is lurking around the corner..............PRIVATIZATION

The big P

As a Correction Officer in the State of New Jersey my main concern isn't being stabbed by an inmate, followed home by an inmate, or a massive riot. My main concern being a Correction Officer in New Jersey is PRIVATIZATION.

If you work in a Correction facility in New Jersey you most likely have the same fear. Our current Governor promised that she would not utter the words privatization and corrections together if she was reelected but two facilities have been privatized in North Jersey. But what do you expect, when was the last time you actually believed a politician's promises? These are your main enemies - THE POLITICIANS! Their main concern is votes and budgets. Not your ability to make a living or job security.

Your best weapon against privatization is education. Not a college education but an education in the world of privatization. This is the way you can fight the possibility of you losing your job. Educate your neighbors, friends, and families about privatization. What it can do to you and how it can effect them. Not just in their pockets with higher taxes when the companies running these facilities can't keep their promises of lower costs to run the Correctional Facilities they take over, but in the danger they are in because of the untrained and under paid employees they use to keep societies criminals behind the walls that you use to keep safe. This is how you can keep from standing in the unemployment line.

You can't educate the politicians about this, if you try they will sight "numerous studies that have shown a significant savings for the tax payer and the ability of these companies to keep their promises of providing a secure and safe environment for the community that the Correction Facilities are located." Yes there have been studies done about the cost savings of privatized facilities. These cost studies were done by the companies that benefit from the privatization of jails. That is the information that the politicians have.

The truth is there have been only three impartial studies of prison/jail privatization and all three have come to the same conclusion that there is no cost savings associated with prison/jail privatization. What they did discover is there have been problems regarding security, staffing, and quality of services that have plagued privatization from its inception.

Since the politicians see that they have the ability to cash in on the privatization of their local Correctional facilities it is difficult for them not be advocates for privatization. The politicians are blinded by the money they can make and they overlook the companies past records when it comes to escapes, assaults, prisoner misconduct, injuries to both inmates and gaurds, increases in costs per inmate from the original contracts, and finally impact to the communities the privatized facilities were located. Also what about the people hired to guard the inmates you once kept behind the walls.

Just imagine knowing what you know now about Corrections and starting all over not as a Correction Officer but a guard for one of these private companies. First, you are no longer a sworn law enforcement officer you are a security guard. Second, you are not making a good wage as you are now - you'll be lucky to get $22,000.00 a year. Third, since you are no longer a Correction Officer you do not have the same standards to live by - you may be proud of your high integrity and strong morals but the person you are working with making $6.00 an hour may be there to bring contraband into inmates to supplement his low hourly wage. Fourth, what happens when the inmates decide to riot? Could you see a SOG or SERT team the private companies might employ? Scary isn't it?

Bad business behind bars!

Crime does pay. Just ask Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

The Tennessee-based company is the largest developer and manager of private correctional and detention facilities in the world. It manages approximately half of all private adult correctional facilities in the United States, employs more than 10,000 workers worldwide in more than 60 prisons, and generated almost $300 million in revenue in 1996.

The CCA formula for profits: Why hire experienced professionals who treat prisoners fairly and keep them safely behind bars? The bottom line does better with low paid employees. When prisoners become too costly, return them to public prisons. They have routinely transferred HIV and AIDS inmates from their facilities to state run facilities. And when prisoners escape, let law enforcement officers - whose salaries are paid for by tax dollars - not the CCA - recapture them.

Governments that have contracted with CCA complain about oversized bills, shady contract bids, inmate escapes, and employees charged with smuggling drugs into the prisons and jails.

There are those people who do the studies for politicians who are trying to privatize correction facilities that I mentioned earlier. Dr.Charles Thomas of the University of Florida is one of them. He is frequently called upon by governmental agencies, legislatures, and investment banking firms as an unbiased expert on prison and jail privatization. Two problems present themselves with Dr.Thomas being called unbiased. First he is a long time advocate of private prisons. And of course, since 1990, the CCA and other private prison companies have financed Thomas' Private Prisons Project at the University of Florida. But after just the smallest amount of inquires I found out Thomas also serves on the board of CCA Realty.

Well I'm totally disgusted now, what about you?

Become an activist against PRIVATIZATION

Now what you have to do is appoint yourself to the role of activist. And you ask what does that mean? I don't have to chain myself to the doors of the jail do I? No, what I want every Correction Officer, their spouses, friends, and families to do is ask questions. Go to your Freeholders meetings, public speaking events that feature your Congressmen and Senators and ask questions. Put the politicians on the spot. Ask them their views about privatizing corrections. But remember, your not dealing with your friend on the street your dealing with a professional public speaker who knows how to answer questions without actually giving you an answer to your question. When they do this tell them that their "avoiding the issue and not answering your question". This will usually get you a response. If they state they are against privatization, ask them if they would sponser a bill to protect New Jersey's Correctional facilities from privatization. Point out that there are bills in legislation in other states to prevent private companies from operating private jails. If they are truly against privatization then they should propose a bill to end privatization. And tell them that they will have your support for doing this. If we can get our politicians on the spot and force them to help us in our battle against privatization we will win the war.

I want to thank all of you for the 300 and counting emails. I try my best to answer them all but hey I have a family and there isn't enough time in the day. I do read them and I'll be sending out bulk emails to announce when I update and/or improve this page.

If you can be of any assistance in the fight against privatization please email me at the link below and direct any questions, comments, or suggestions to Officer Everett Davis.

Be sure to visit the links. And see if your as disgusted as I am with the companies specializing in stealing your job. It's all about the almighty dollar.