South Carolina Jails and Mental Health

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Tiapet, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Is there a link that goes with it?

    FWIW, I think that "for profit" prisons as they stand are probably unconstitutional and should be abolished. Their only purpose is to fill beds and they'll do it at any cost.
  3. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Witz, I worked for the State prison system for 24 years in the state that is also the home of the biggest for-profit privately run prison company in the US. I worked in prison administration when this company came in and we saw it all first hand. The whole concept of for-profit prisons and jails is horrible because it means that the more they can cut corners, the more profit they make. And in spite of constant lawsuits and horror stories, they still run several state-owned institutions and large county jails.

    And the corruption was there from the very start. When it was first proposed, the idea was to turn over the entire State prison system to this company. Then it was discovered that the state official who was pushing it the hardest was married to the woman who was the main lobbiest for this company and who stood to make a huge "bonus" if the deal went through! And this "gentleman" had the cajones to claim that this had nothing to do with why he thought it was a good idea! It would have gone through too but the State Dept. of Correction employees (including me) protested long and hard and stormed the State capitol en force. They ended up turning over three or four state-owned institutions and a few large county jails to be administered by this company.

    They have never been held to the same standards as the State-run institutions and have cut corners in everything from inmate meals to medical, dental and mental health care. But the thing is, they have always been allowed to "cherry pick" the inmates they will accept. They usually want only the young, healthy ones that don't require a lot of expensive care. They were allowed to reject the ones with chronic medical or mental health conditions, and the elderly ones who require a lot more medical care. They could refuse the AIDS patients and others that the State spends millions every year to care for. And this is NOT taken in to account when they make financial comparisons about their costs to run a prison vs the State.

    And their staff is treated no better for the most part. I KNOW for a fact that when they were initially hiring, they would send applicants back again and again until they could pass the drug test. Drug-using employees could be a huge problem in a prison! They are poorly trained, poorly equipped, and poorly paid, resulting in a huge turnover. So you see poorly trained inexperienced employees who have only been there a year or so being put in positions of authority, mostly by default. I totally agree with you that the "for-profit" system of prison administration is horrible and should be done away with. But it's politics ... politics and money!
  4. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    Witz if you click on the title it is the link.... ;)
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Ah! It looked as though you just wanted to be very sure about a topic!
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm opting out as I just find it scarey that there is so little compassion, so little oversight, so little rehabilitative effort and so little appropriate medical care for MH issues. I spent a few years serving as a State volunteer (appointment. by Governors for independent oversight) and even 20 years ago I was aghast by what I personally saw and investigated in juvenile justice, mental health provision, and elder care abuses. The only area that was well monitored was treatment of the Developmentally Delayed. That, of course, was because the families of those consumers stayed on top of the governmental programs.

    The private correctional facilities ????? Good Grief! As Donna said they "cherry pick" their inmates AND many of them are running businesses for profit (vegetables, fish, clothing) using inmates who are of course low cost laborers and therefore providing unfair competition to private companies.

    Sadly my State no longer has the human rights committee system that was in place for many decades. Oversight and input, evidently, is no longer valued. Sigh! DDD
  7. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    DDD, in our State system, the prisons, even the privately managed ones, do not compete with private industry. The one where I worked had several large factories where the inmates worked but they manufactured things that were used by the State. They had factories that made all the furniture used in State office buildings and institutions and they made all the clothing worn by inmates. In addition to license plates, they also made all the metal road signs for the State highway systems, the reflective paint that goes on the road signs, and the reflective paint that is used to paint the lines on the roads. The system is not allowed to use cheap inmate labor to compete with private industry but it may not be that way everywhere.
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    You know how hard it was for me to not say something about "license plates", right? ;) After my mother's ne'er-do-well brother moved out of our home and moved back to California he got a job with the state. Now, he was a WWII Veteran and was a POW, so of course he got a good job that he kept until retirement. But I can remember my sisters poking fun that he got a job making license plates.

    I agree, we should not have private prisons competing with private enterprise. Jail jeans doesn't compete, but I'm not so certain about office furniture...

    (That I feel that we shouldn't have private prisons at all should without saying.)
  9. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Ours only made the furniture that was used in the various State office buildings and institutions. None of this was ever sold on the open market. We actually had two factories that made furniture. One made metal things like the bunks used in the prison cells and they even made things like the file cabinets that were used in State offices. The other factory made upholstered wood frame furniture like chairs and sofas, even very nice wood cabinets, desks and credenzas.

    The prison where I worked was State owned and managed, all the employees worked directly for the State. Even with the privately run institutions, all the land, buildings and equipment are still owned by the State - they are just staffed and managed by the private companies. Their employees work for these for-profit companies and are NOT State employees.
  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Ergo they are not accountable to the people of the state. Not good...