Arizona, Hawai’i and Private Prisons (Updated)

Prisons for Profit – Part 1” (by PBS June 19, 2009)

Prisons for Profit – Part 2” (by PBS June 19, 2009)

So the fact of a literal corporate-controlled prison State called Arizona is now pretty generally known, right?

Let’s review that. Please now pause to review the video “Private Prisons Set To Gain From AZ Immigration Bill,” The Rachel Maddow Show, Aug. 12, 2010.

There’s a whole lot in this video but I’ d like to capture at least these few points:

1. ‘[.. H]ow did the State of Arizona decide to proceed with the issue of prison privatization? Even as prison population privatization declines around the country, even as state budget cuts make it so that many states are closing facilities or reducing their sentencing guidelines, so that fewer people are in prison altogether, how did the State of Arizona decide to proceed? Last year Arizona State officials moved legislation to try to privatize the whole state prison system. Arizona planned to “seek bids from private companies for nine of the state’s ten prison complexes.” It was the first effort by a state to put it’s entire prison system under private control.’ – Rachel Maddow

2. “[..] Corrections Corporation of America, [..] is the single largest private prison company in the county. CCA already runs six detention facilities in Arizona. They hold prisoners from other states at their facilities in Arizona. They also hold the Federal contract to hold Federal detainees in the state.” – Rachel Maddow

3. “They have about a 5% vacancy rate that they keep for big busts or that kind of thing so obviously that number would go up and they would have to make extra accommodations [..]” – Morgan Loew, KPHO-TV Phoenix, AZ

4. “In addition, in Arizona, we have a mind-set among a couple of key legislators that privatizing the prison industry is a good thing. As you mentioned, they tried to privatize the entire system last year [2009]. The Governor did veto that after the state corrections director sent her a letter saying, look we can’t imagine having death row inmate in private prison systems, and having death row inmates being taken care of by the lowest bidder. They don’t think that’s a great idea. Our State Attorney General said he didn’t think that was a good idea. But that bill went down.” – Morgan Loew, KPHO-TV Phoenix, AZ

5. “There are other bills that have moved forward. We’ve got a … was a Request For Proposal out on the table right now for 5,000 additional beds for private prisons to come in here and take up. That would double the number of inmates we currently have in the private prison system here in Arizona.” – Morgan Loew, KPHO-TV Phoenix, AZ

6. “It’s uh it’s remarkable that, um, I guess, it’s remarkable that even running death row for profit at this point has to be proposed before people realize that it is a bridge too far.” – Rachel Maddow, MSNBC

“Globalization” is not something new. Actually, if it’s called by its old name, “colonialism,” everyone recognizes it and that it has been around in a more technological form for the last 300 years. Only since the 1980s, has it been around in its Strategic Defense Initiative incarnation — a reality that seems to become brutally clear to much of the American public in the last six years. For the indigenous Hawai’ians, life hasn’t been all that lovely particularly since the 1770s when the international defense contractors tapped this previously untouched market:

The long-prevailing political equilibrium began to disintegrate shortly after the introduction of guns and the spread of new diseases to the Islands. In 1784, the most powerful ali’i nui, Kamehameha, began a war of conquest, and with his superior use of modern weapons and western advisors, he subdued all other chiefdoms, with the exception of Kaua’i, by 1795.

(excerpt from “Economic History of Hawai’i” Posted by Anonymous, Feb. 1, 2010)

Inside USA – The Other Hawaii – Sept 26 – Part 1

During the late 1700s, Hawai’i was “reorganized” to be like any other European colony except it was one to the United States until it became the fiftieth State in 1959. At that point, the economic situation began to lift the boats of more of the population than previously:

The transition from territorial to statehood status was one factor behind the 1958-1973 boom, in which real per capita personal income increased at an annual rate of 4 percent. The most important factor behind the long expansion was the introduction of commercial jet service in 1959, as the jet plane dramatically reduced the money and time costs of traveling to Hawai’i. Also fueled by rapidly rising real incomes in the United States and Japan, the tourism industry would continue its rapid growth through 1990. Visitor arrivals (see Table 3) increased from 171,367 in 1958 to 6,723,531 in 1990. Growth in visitor arrivals was once again accompanied by growth in the construction industry, particularly from 1965 to 1975. The military build-up during the Vietnam War also contributed to the boom by increasing defense expenditures in Hawai’i by 3.9 percent annually from 1958 to 1973 (Schmitt, 1977, pp. 148, 668).

(excerpt from “Economic History of Hawai’i” Posted by Anonymous, Feb. 1, 2010)

From 1973 to 1990, the economic sustenance for the State came mostly from aboard in the form of tourism:

From 1973 to 1990, growth in real per capita personal income slowed to 1.1 percent annually. The defense and agriculture sectors stagnated, with most growth generated by the relentless increase in visitor arrivals. Japan’s persistently high rates of economic growth during the 1970s and 1980s spilled over to Hawai’i in the form of huge increases in the numbers of Japanese tourists and in the value of Japanese foreign investment in Hawai’i. At the end of the 1980s, the Hawai’i unemployment rate was just 2-3 percent, employment had been steadily growing since 1983, and prospects looked good for continued expansion of both tourism and the overall economy.

(excerpt from “Economic History of Hawai’i” Posted by Anonymous, Feb. 1, 2010)

The 1990s and forward were marked by economic decline:

From 1991 to 1998, Hawai’i’s economy was hit by several negative shocks. The 1990-1991 recession in the United States, the closure of California military bases and defense plants, and uncertainty over the safety of air travel during the 1991 Gulf War combined to reduce visitor arrivals from the United States in the early and mid-1990s. Volatile and slow growth in Japan throughout the 1990s led to declines in Japanese visitor arrivals in the late 1990s. The ongoing decline in sugar and pineapple production gathered steam in the 1990s, with only a handful of plantations still in business by 2001. The cumulative impact of these adverse shocks was severe, as real per capita personal income did not change between 1991 and 1998.

The recovery continued through summer 2001 despite a slowing U.S. economy. It came to an abrupt halt with the terrorism attack of September 11, 2001, as domestic and foreign tourism declined sharply.”

(excerpt from “Economic History of Hawai’i” Posted by Anonymous, Feb. 1, 2010)

Suffering from tough economic conditions in the 1990s, Hawai’ians moved for work in Las Vegas by the 2000s:

Mr. Mokuahi, 49, a former construction foreman who moved here from Oahu six years ago, considers himself one lucky Hawaiian, and not just because he controls the only surfable body of water on the Las Vegas Strip — the turbine-driven one he helped build at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

It is because he has a job — wave-pool director — that lets him live in a nice suburb, in a house big enough for him, his wife, their 19-year-old son and any other relatives who visit. [..]

Las Vegas, he says, has given him material comfort he could never have attained back home. [.. he] misses Hawaii — ”the best place in the world to be,” he says matter-of-factly. But he is not complaining. Neither, it seems, are the tens of thousands of other Hawaiians who have joined him in this casino boomtown. A broad swath of the Hawaiian middle class — hotel workers, retired police officers, teachers and, increasingly, nurses and other professionals — abandoned its economically depressed home state in the last 10 years, seeking better jobs, cheaper houses and easier lives here.

(excerpt “Hawaiians Find an Unlikely Eden in Las Vegas” By Lawrende Downes, The New York Times, Published: October 27, 2002)

By the late 2000s, it was recognized that the Native population experienced significant economic disparity:

The Office of Native American Programs sponsored a training session for Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant (NHHBG) Program participants to enhance their capacity for NHHBG program administration. The NHHBG addresses the critical housing needs of Native Hawaiians, a minority group where the incidence of housing problems is one of the highest in the country. Native Hawaiians have the highest levels of poverty, unemployment, and incarceration of any ethnic group in Hawaii and the lowest levels of education and health.

(excerpt from “What’s Up at HUD This Week in Region IX?” July 31, 2008)

By the 2000s, the tough economy Hawai’ians may have thought they left behind was apparent in the mainland and especially Nevada:

That share of jobless residents represented a local record of 15 percent in September, according to Friday numbers from the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

It’s tough, because you go from 100 miles an hour to zero, and then you’re trying to get enough confidence to get back out there,” Warnock said. “I loved my work. I miss the satisfaction of seeing how I can change people’s behaviors to better themselves, and to make things better for their families as well — to see people go home at the end of each day saying, ‘I accomplished something without killing myself.’

Warnock, who also has industrial experience and a military background in explosives safety, said he’s had a few nibbles from potential employers, but mostly for positions for which he’s overqualified.

(“Las Vegas Valley jobless rate hits record 15 percent” By Jennifer Robison, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oct. 22, 2010)

Meanwhile, Hawai’ian tourism– a mainstay of the State’s economy– has been expanded to Japan, South Korea and Alaska to support a Hawai’ian unemployment rate which

[..] currently stands at 6.4 percent, while the US national average rate stands at 9.6 percent. This is in dramatic contrast to other destination areas like Las Vegas, where unemployment is currently around 14%.

(excerpt from “How Pricing of Vacation Packages Has Affected Hawaii’s Economy,” by Barry Inouye, Published: October 22, 2010)

But, more Hawai’ians continue to leave the islands:

More than 140,000 Hawaiians exchanged their license plates for Nevada ones at the DMV just last year, said Ana Malia, owner of Las Vegas Leis.

“Our population is often overlooked,” she said, while stringing together delicate purple and white orchids. “There are so many of us here now, we have a comfort zone.”

There are so many Hawaiians living here, they call Las Vegas “the ninth island.”

(excerpt from “Capture island spirit, go Hawaiian in Las Vegas” by Kathleen Kenna, Las Vegas Travel Examiner, October 3rd, 2010)

Inside USA – The Other Hawaii – Sept 26 – Part 2

There’s one other destination of Hawai’ians that appears overlooked– prisons. Please now pause and see the embedded video and associated article, “Native Hawaiians Serving Longer Prison Sentences” (posted: Sept. 28, 2010, updated: Sept. 28, 2010).

Statistics on the incarceration of Native Hawai’ians are disturbing.

Incarcerated people in Hawaii are disproportionately Native. In the 2000 Census, 18% of the state was Native Hawaiian. The Department of Public Safety says that approximately 40% of incarcerated people are Native, and the U.S. Census reported higher figures in the three facilities for which such data was available:

  • Halawa Correctional Facility: 55.8%
  • Waiawa Correctional Facility: 52.8%
  • Kauai Community Correctional Center: 42.7%

(excerpt from “Fixing prison-based gerrymandering after the 2010 Census: Hawaii,” March 2010)

The incarceration has other features:

– Of the people serving a prison term in Hawai‘i, approximately 50 percent are housed in facilities on the mainland. Of this population, about 41 percent are Native Hawaiian, the most highly-represented group. While incarcerated out of state, these people are further disconnected from their communities, families and culturally appropriate services for re-entry.

– Native Hawaiians do not use drugs at drastically different rates from people of other races or ethnicities, but Native Hawaiians go to prison for drug offenses more often than people of other races or ethnicities.

– Once released from prison, Native Hawaiians experience barriers that prevent them from participating in certain jobs, obtaining a drivers license, voting, continuing education, obtaining housing and keeping a family together.

– Without a sufficient number of culturally appropriate services, Native Hawaiians are not given the best chance at achieving success upon re-entry into the community.

(excerpt from “The Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System,” Sept. 29, 2010, full downloadable report here)

Now here’s where Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) comes in again.

The state currently sends 1,900 (54%) of it’s state prison population to prisons on the mainland, mostly to the private Saguaro Prison in Arizona. These people are credited to Arizona for congressional apportionment purposes and used to pad state legislative districts in Arizona.

(excerpt from “Fixing prison-based gerrymandering after the 2010 Census: Hawaii,” March 2010)

Prison Policy Initiative states that gerrymandering is occurring:

Prison-based gerrymandering violates the constitutional principle of “One Person, One Vote.” The Supreme Court requires districts to be based on equal population in order to give each resident the same access to government. But a longstanding flaw in the Census counts incarcerated people as residents of the prison location, even though they can’t vote and aren’t a part of the surrounding community.

When legislators claim people incarcerated in their districts are legitimate constituents, they award people who live close to the prison more of a say in government than everybody else. [..]

In 2000, Hawaii also sent a lot of incarcerated people to the mainland. One of those places was Swift County Minnesota and that created a number of interesting statistical anomalies.

(excerpt from “Fixing prison-based gerrymandering after the 2010 Census: Hawaii,” March 2010)

Beside the things a private prison is supposed to do– except executions at the moment– what is going on at Saguaro Correctional Center?

Saguaro, located in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and built by Corrections Corp. of America (CCA) in 2007, houses the majority of Hawaii’s male prison population.

There have been at least five deaths of Hawaii individuals at Saguaro in the last two years that the public knows about. Patrick Garcia, 42, died in May 2008; James Kendricks, 60, died in August 2008; an inmate named Cartel died in October 2008 waiting for medical help; Bronson Nunuha, 26, was brutally murdered in February while locked down for 22 hours a day; and Clifford Medina, 23, died on June 8.

Equally disturbing is the insensitive comment made by the state Department of Public Safety director regarding Bronson Nunuha’s murder: “What we found that time was the facility did whatever it could have done. I think they responded appropriately under the circumstances.” [..]

The data show that private prison correctional officers have 35 percent fewer training hours than officers in public prisons and have a turnover rate of 52 percent compared to the 16 percent turnover at public prisons. Private prisons have 49 percent more assaults on staff and 65 percent more inmate-on-inmate assaults than public prisons.

(excerpt from “More from Hawaii- Commentary by Kat Brady and CCA Response,” June 29, 2010 )

What else is going on at Saguaro Correctional Center?

Please now pause and view “Arizona Prison Outreach” (January 2009).

One of the greatest resources that God can use to reach the Kingdom in the world for the Kingdom of God is when the Church and the state come together in partnership with one another. Isn’t that true? It’s not a separation of church and state; it’s a partnering up with one another and using that, yeah, using that as a means to reach the world for Christ and you, New Hope, has been so instrumental in bridging that gap between church and state. We’ve done a lot with our prison ministry at Saguaro Prison as well as others.

Pastor Roy Yamamoto in “New Hope at Saguaro Correctional Center,” December 13, 2009

Please now pause and view “New Hope at Saguaro Correctional Center.”

In the videos, the visitors look sincere and the men going through the Church’s program look happy but is a prison really the appropriate place to hold a tent revival? Is every inmate at the Church event there because they want to be? The videos almost make it look like this is one of the major activities going on at the prison.

The floor is open for discussion as there are a whole lot more questions raised in my mind by the material herein than answers.

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