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Michigan In Chains As Rick Snyder Replaces Education With Punk Prisons

more from Sarah Jones
Saturday, March, 12th, 2011, 6:09 pm

What corporation is eying Detroit? Must be someone good because Snyder isn’t wasting any time driving it into the final solution. Gov Snyder’s Genius Idea for Detroit : Cut spending to colleges, increase money to prisons.

Michigan’s Republican Governor, Rick Snyder, of Gateway fame, has wasted no time gutting education in the name of fiscal emergencies, while he funnels millions more to the prison systems. If you’re thinking Wackenhut, you’re right on the money.

How does Snyder justify decreasing funding to Detroit’s own Wayne State University, for example, while increasing funding to prisons, assuming that his goal is to help Detroit recover and not to drive it into the Final Solution so he can gift it to a corporate buddy? We all know that you lower crime and increase a city’s viability by keeping the folks uneducated. Ahahhaha. Right.

Wayne State University faces a Snyder-induced $42 million reduction, or 21 percent funding cut. WSU already reduced operating expenses by more than $50 million in the last several years, so it’s not like they’re greedy welfare sucking red states. What gives, King Snyder?

WSU is a premier urban research university offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students and they are being cut back to 1989 level support. Maybe the Republicans really miss the days of Prince….

Yet Ricky has plenty o’ that hard to find cash for the prisons. While the Governor proposes to cut public universities by nearly $300 million, he proposes a $12 million increase to corrections and prisons. Something tells me ol’ Ricky’s gonna privatize those prisons (what are the odds that Ricky gifts Detroit to Wackenhut after driving it into no recovery zone?).

Oh, looky here, gosh, how’d I know? From The Detroit News:

Privatization efforts in Snyder’s Feb. 17 budget include: Saving $9.5 million by bidding out food services and prison store operations in the Department of Corrections.

Yeah, it’s just starting. Of course, if he kills education no one will be around anymore to point out that historically, statistically and empirically, privatization does not save money and is not more efficient, and the in the end, the consumer does not get better services.

Course, the good thing about privatizing prisons is they get to abuse prisoners and we all know how much the New Order Republicans love them some torture. It’s not as if Snyder doesn’t know this is an issue, because it already happened in Michigan under Governor Engler in 1999 when he privatized a youth prison in his self-dubbed “Punk Prisons” movement.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm closed it in 2005 after years of concerns about costs and prisoner abuse. Guess who ran Engler’s “Punk Prison”?

Wait for it. Come on now….You know this one.

Think Bush. Think prisoner abuse. Think Vodka bums. Think Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker hiring them. Think naked frat boys guarding the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Yup, Wackenhut. Seriously, with the Freud stuff here. Wackenhut. Can they give it a rest?

At any rate, as you recall, Gov Walker hired Wackenhut to replace union security guards in Milwaukee and Wackenhut brought on a criminal to run things. Then Walker was found to have violated the law when he fired the union guards, so he had to pay the union guards all the back pay plus pay the criminals at Wackenhut in what can only be described as a perfect example of modern day corporate conservatism in action.

In case you think Wackenhut only likes to abuse the adult population, no, this was a youth prison. However, it’s OK to hate on these youths and therefore abuse them because as Republican former Governor Engler was quick to point out, they were thugs and horrid criminals (and true enough, some of them had committed heinous crimes, but not all of them).

And by the way, Wackenhut is now operating under the name GEO Group. You do have to wonder, don’t you, why certain companies keep changing their name. Blackwater, XE. Etc. Maybe it’s because Wackenhut’s name was blackened in Michigan already during the Punk Prisons privatizing prisons debacle.

Wackenhut built the prison in about 14 months at a cost of $40 million. Michigan was set to pay Wackenhut just under $5.6 million per year in rent, plus $67.50 per day for the care and feeding of each prisoner. See, this is the part that conservative trolls miss when they natter on about cutting costs. Please, for the love of God, will someone tell them that we still pay for them when services are privatized?

The Punk Prison was closed under Democratic Governor Granholm, after being charged with multiple abuses of prisoners along with exceptionally high costs. After the state had given the company a 60-day notice that it was terminating the lease, GEO (Wackenhut) made a last-minute offer to cut the cost of the state’s contract by at least $2 million a year, which sort of suggests that the contract was pretty darn lucrative if it had that much wiggle room.

Yes, people, this is what happens when private “for profit” corporations take over. They cost more and we get less. I mean, we get less if we didn’t want abuse of prisoners. If, however, you share the modern day conservative’s love of torture, this could be seen as an expensive way to get off, and perhaps well worth it if the residents of Michigan don’t mind paying an extra few million so corporate conservatives can get their jollies.

The Michigan Psychiatric News reported on November 4, 2005, “Parents of convicted offenders alleged that their children had suffered physical, mental, and sexual abuse at the maximum-security prison. Their allegations were backed up by a watchdog group.” They went on to detail that there was only one full-time social worker for 483 inmates and low-level offenders were housed with convicted rapists and murderers. Many inmates were kept in isolation for days at a time without recreation and as punishment for minor offenses were limited to a few showers a week. Worst of all, suicide attempts increased dramatically.

Oh well, suicide attempts by youth are sort of the Republicans Darwinian social experiment come to pass – weed out the losers and cut costs. Never mind what it takes to drive low-level offenders to this point, after all, they aren’t your kids. No one cares about the kids. Screw ‘em. They’re probably freeloaders anyway, right?

GEO/Wackenhut was upset just last year when their stock plunged after being denied a Michigan contract, but they were sure it would rebound as they anticipated that 2011 would include more “support” for their services.

You betcha they can expect more support this year; the year of the Republican governor. Oddly, Republicans argued to keep Wackenhut GEO open in Michigan because it provided jobs to a poverty stricken town, which is sort of like asking the state to fund jobs….so how is that different from a state run facility? If the state hires people, are those not jobs? Republicans typically argue that government jobs are not jobs, but they have yet to explain how government-funded privatized jobs are any more “jobby” than just cutting out the middle man.

Government jobs are just as real as government funded private jobs, which means that this excuse of providing jobs for a poverty stricken town, while a valid concern for the town, is not the real agenda. The agenda is to give Wackenhut taxpayer money so they can make a profit and then give money to the Republican governor’s campaign. So what if a bunch of kids get sexually abused or tortured? This is the cost of business, baby.

Wackenhut gives to all kinds of Republican governors, from Florida to California to Michigan – they give so they can get taxpayer money. Their profits allow them to cut 2 million off of an annual budget and they have a long record of abuse and mismanagement. I’m feeling all common sense conservative-y right now, how about you?

Let’s repeat it, shall we? When we privatize, we have “for profit” corporations running things. Costs will go up, services will go down and no one will be accountable to the people. Republicans call this “competition”, and yet these same corporations can’t seem to compete with the government, so I’m left wondering just why Republicans are pushing for a corporate handicap in the game of fiscal competition.

On the off chance we bought Snyder’s privatization moves as being limited to prison food and stores, The Detroit News reported that based on recent testimony at legislative hearings, it appears Snyder is planning privatization initiatives beyond those announced in the budget, such as in the Department of Human Services and add to that the fact that Ricky’s budget doesn’t actually say where money will be going in many cases; it’s an ode to vagueness that makes the Republicans’ healthcare reform alternative look deep. Suffice it to say, there are tons of graphics of Ricky’s seal as governor.

In case you think it’s just children who are at risk here, Wackenhut also guards nuclear facilities in Michigan (and elsewhere) and the company’s lax behavior at nuclear plants has endangered public safety. In 2005, U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote a letter in which he expressed his grave concerns over Wackenhut’s nuclear guarding contracts:

“In the past year alone, Wackenhut personnel have been found cheating on security tests, altering security training requirements, violating [Department of Energy] regulations, failing at security exercises and retaliating against whistleblowers — why hasn’t the company been permanently barred from guarding nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials?”

Are you concerned yet, or are you thinking that the state’s budget should be frittered away on drunken frat boys rather than education?

“I knew the honeymoon would end,” Snyder says, as if the outrage he’s facing from his constituents were the equivalent of the unrealistic expectations of the newly wed.

Maybe Ricky is used to boring women after two months, but the honeymoon period is not actually a matter of weeks for most people and others actually manage to have long term relationships that do not involve feelings of betrayal and being lied to. Just a thought.

To have his constituents outraged so early into his relationship with them is really not a good thing, no matter how he tries to spin it. Ricky took a vulnerable, poor girl home and married her with promises of fiscal bounty; she woke up the next day regretting her hasty vow when she realized he had stolen from her grandparents to feed the hungry corporate wolves at the door.

Bring on the Punk Prisons, you drunken frat boys! It’s time to “save money.”




Michigan In Chains As Rick Snyder Replaces Education With Punk Prisons was written by Sarah Jones for PoliticusUSA.
© PoliticusUSA, Sat, Mar 12th, 2011 — All Rights Reserved

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