…The private incarceration business remains a relatively small (though powerful) interest, housing about 7 percent of state prisoners and slightly more than 16 percent of federal ones. The numbers and percentages took off in the 1990s with tougher laws and federal subsidies for state prisons before entering a business-model and scandal-fueled tailspin late in the decade. They picked up again and increased by more than a third in state prisons during the 2000s, with even greater growth on the federal side thanks to immigration enforcement after 9/11. The two largest companies, the Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Group, reported combined revenues of $2.9 billion in 2010. The CCA houses about 80,000 prisoners. Of the more than 60 facilities it operates, it owns 44. … Beginning in 2009, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which brings together conservative lawmakers and membership-and-fee-paying corporate sponsors in a mini-legislature to develop “model bills,” suddenly abandoned its decades-long support of private prisons. … Few think the lock-’em-up approach is sustainable for much longer. The incarceration reform movement seems inexorable, despite concerns that if the economy continues to stall, U.S. legal systems will find more reasons and ways to put people behind bars—or that if flush times return, we will be able to afford ever-growing prison populations. …
…No accountability for escalating costs
The department recognizes it has not received competitive bus services bids in years and that follow-on bids for existing contracts have unjustifiably risen by as much as 259 percent. Despite this, the DOE has not established a systematic approach to monitoring contractor performance and ensuring competitive pricing for school bus services. It also has failed to flag potentially anticompetitive actions that may have contributed to rising costs. For instance, the DOE received multiple bids on only one of 48 groups of solicited routes that we reviewed. Further, the DOE has undermined public confidence in the procurement process by failing to adequately justify that eight out of ten contracts awarded to sole bidders were fair and reasonable. We found no justification at all for three of those awards, and justifications for the remaining five were cursory and lacked support.
The DOE has also failed to coordinate oversight of school bus service contracts between its procurement and transportation branches and has not instilled a responsibility for public resources among its employees. We found that nine of the ten contracts we reviewed included a provision for the department to compensate contractors for their general excise taxes (GET). The State is not liable for GET and it is illogical for the State to pay itself taxes. However, the DOE estimates it will pay more than $2 million in school year 2012 for contractors’ GET. The department was unable to explain why it pays GET on most contracts….
CBS News has learned of a major investigation into the school lunch industry. The big companies that decide what food goes on your student’s tray may be cheating schools and taxpayers out of millions….Sodexo encouraged employees to buy from big food processing companies that in return gave Sodexo cash rebates. But New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says Sodexo’s profit motives extended far beyond those employee bonuses, which are legal. He says Sodexo crossed the line when it pocketed cash rebates actually meant for the schools… Schneiderman said his office has uncovered a nationwide pattern of public schools getting ripped off. He’s fired off subpoenas to 10 more food industry companies…..Hawaii and California have joined in the fraud investigation. And at a meeting earlier this week, New York’s Attorney General briefed his counterparts from 15 more states….
Attorney General Cuomo Announces $20 Million Settlement With Food Services Company For Overcharging New York Schools
Source: New York State Office of the Attorney General, Press Releases, July 21, 2010
For the second time in three months, the family of a Hawaii prisoner murdered at a private prison in Arizona filed a lawsuit against the State of Hawaii and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
Clifford Medina, a 23-year-old citizen of Hawaii, was incarcerated at the CCA-operated Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona as part of a controversial practice in which the Hawaii Department of Public Safety (DPS) sends state inmates to private, for-profit prisons on the mainland. Clifford was killed by another inmate on June 8, 2010….On February 15, 2012, the family of Bronson Nunuha, another Hawaii prisoner who was brutally murdered at the Saguaro facility four months before Clifford was killed, filed a lawsuit against the State of Hawaii, CCA and state and CCA officials, alleging similar deficiencies at the privately-run prison…
…Notably, while Hawaii prisoners Clifford and Bronson were killed at the CCA-run Saguaro prison in Arizona in 2010, no state prisoners were murdered in DPS-operated facilities in Hawaii during that same year….
Hawai’i Charter Schools: Autonomy Without Accountability
– No outside oversight
…In SY2009-10, nearly 8,000 students attended 31 charter schools through-out the state. That year, the charter school system had a general fund budget of $49.7 million.
In our audit of the Hawai’i public charter school system, we found that the Charter School Review Panel, which authorizes and should hold charter schools accountable for their performance, has misinterpreted state law and minimized its role in the system’s accountability structure. Focusing on its duties as authorizer and reauthorizer, the panel has delegated core monitoring and reporting responsibilities to the local school boards, removing itself–and outside oversight–from the charter school system. The panel does not verify and analyze the data it receives from the schools for accuracy and completeness, nor does it collect its own data to measure student performance. …For one school’s enrollment count, we could not verify 28 students. With funding based on SY2009-10 per-pupil allocation of $5,753, that amounts to more than $160,000.
– Unethical and illegal spending of public funds
Although charter schools are exempt from the Hawai’i Public Procurement Code, they must comply with the State Code of Ethics. However, only two public charter schools of the ten we reviewed have a school ethics policy and only three follow the ethics code….
We also found that the lack of oversight by the review panel, the Charter School Administrative Office, which is responsible for management of the charter school system, and the local school boards has resulted in school spending and employment practices that are unethical and illegal… Unless the review panel and the administrative office take active roles in a robust accountability system for charter schools, student outcomes will remain unproven and the financial viability of individual schools and the charter school system itself will be unknown.
– Responses from affected agencies
While generally agreeing with our recommendations, both the panel and the office took issue with certain details. However, these attempts to refute and parse our documented findings are illogical and unsupported, and do not merit changing our report.
From the summary:
Recent efforts to improve K-12 educational outcomes have had mixed success. One possible reason is that many students entering kindergarten lack the basic skills to succeed in school. In 2007, with support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Hawai’i launched its P-3 (preschool through third-grade) initiative, the early childhood component of the state’s P-20 (preschool through higher-education) work. The initiative is overseen by the P-20 Partnerships for Education, housed at the University of Hawai’i, and its goal is for every child in the state to read at grade level by third grade. The first year of RAND’s multiyear evaluation of the P-3 initiative examined plans, activities, and policy in two demonstration sites and at the P-20 level. The focus was on identifying and developing measures to assess progress and determining how the system underlying P-3 monitors, incentivizes, and supports efforts to promote early literacy. The evaluation team worked with the two demonstration sites and the P-20 team to refine logic models that will help identify measures to assess P-3 implementation and progress. The findings are organized according to seven focus areas and rely, in part, on a five-component systems-change framework intended to help align ongoing efforts and promote the goals of the individual sites and the P-20 partnership.
The city could save more than $10 million within five years if its emergency and water safety duties are combined with the Honolulu Fire Department, an administration study released Monday concludes ….. The $175,000 study by Emergency Services Consulting International said problems that plagued the emergency services system, which were spelled out in a 1992 study, continue. ….. The study also said emergency services paid $4.9 million in overtime costs during fiscal 2010, equivalent to 43 percent of the regular salary budgeted. The report attributed a portion of that cost to provisions within the labor contract between the city and the United Public Workers, the union which represents paramedics.
Guards for Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s biggest private prison company, continue to abuse prisoners who sought a protective injunction after CCA guards stripped, beat, kicked and threatened to kill them, and “the warden himself” threatened their families, according to a new complaint in Federal Court. ….. The men say CCA “deliberately destroyed and failed to preserve evidence of their wrongdoing, including videotapes … intercepted mail, delayed mail, denied mail and interfered with phone calls to family and attorneys” and “deliberately falsified reports.”
Source: IAN URBINA, New York
Times, August 26, 2009
Hawaii prison officials said Tuesday that all of the state’s 168 female inmates at a privately run Kentucky
prison will be removed by the end of September because of charges of sexual abuse by guards. Forty inmates were returned to Hawaii on Aug. 17. …. Otter Creek is run by the Corrections Corporation of America and is one of a spate of private, for-profit prisons, mainly in the South, that have been the focus of investigations over issues like abusive conditions and wrongful deaths.
Source:Janis L. Magin, Pacific Business News
(HI), April 1, 2009
The idea of leasing the
Ala Wai Small
Boat Harbor in Waikiki to a private developer has floated
to the surface once again in the Legislature, only this time it directly
conflicts with a state plan to revitalize not only Hawaii’s harbors, but its
parks and trails, too. …… Others who opposed the legislation include dozens of
individual boaters, surfers and paddlers, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, the Waikiki
Neighborhood Board, the Ala Wai Marina Community Association and the Hawaii Government Employees Association.