June 18, 2013


Private prison’s shocking treatment of mentally ill sparks lawsuit. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF), alleging shocking human rights violations against mentally ill and special needs prisoners by the private, for-profit facility. Intended to provide safe and humane treatment for the state’s seriously mentally ill prisoners, EMCF is described as dangerous, filthy, and  “operating in a perpetual state of crisis where prisoners are at grave risk of death and loss of limbs” with little to no medical or psychiatric attention. Washington Times

Defenders of Public Spaces Take Inspiration From Turkish Protests. “The privatization of the public realm, through the growth of ‘private-public’ space, produces overcontrolled, sterile places which lack connection to the reality and diversity of the local environment, with the result that they all tend to look the same,” Ms. Minton wrote in a report for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. “They also raise serious questions about democracy and accountability.” Campaigners lament the growth of gated communities and closed malls, which in many areas have replaced open streets and public markets, as well as the proliferation of private security guards and CCTV monitoring. New York Times

Put the Spies Back Under One Roof – Op Ed. And if the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs are unlawful or unconstitutional, as many Americans (including myself) believe, does it make any difference whether the work is done by a government analyst or a private contractor?  It does. Here’s why. First, it is dangerous to have half a million people — the number of private contractors holding top-secret security clearances — peering into the lives of their fellow citizens. Contractors aren’t part of the chain of command at the N.S.A. or other agencies and aren’t subject to Congressional oversight. Officially, their only loyalty is to their company and its shareholders. New York Times

Contractors Account for 22% of Defense Dept. Workforce, but 50% of Workforce Costs. Despite claims that hiring private contractors instead of government employees yields greater efficiency and lower costs for taxpayers, information emerging from the across-the-board federal budget sequester suggests that privatization yields higher costs at the expense of taxpayers, but big profits for contractors. As government agencies try to implement the budget cuts in ways that do the least damage to their work, they—and we—are learning more and more about the inefficiencies of private contractors.  AllGov

AFGE praises lawmakers for retaining ban on outsourcing DoD jobs. Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia offered an amendment to the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would have lifted the moratorium on the A-76 privatization process. The amendment failed yesterday evening by a vote of 178 to 248, with 55 Republicans joining 193 Democrats in voting to keep the outsourcing ban in place. “This amendment would have opened up the outsourcing floodgate at DoD, costing even more civilian jobs that have been subjected to arbitrary cuts for years,” Cox said. PR Newswire

FL: Fred Grimm: Rush to privatize is all about bucks. Our governor was deeply offended by a burst of unkind aspersions after an insurance company that didn’t exist 11 months ago finagled a $52 million deal out of the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Company. Miami Herald

FL: Amid series of complaints at Medical Examiner’s Office, city considers privatizing. The Mayor’s Office began a review of the Medical Examiner’s Office for possible privatization in about August 2012 as one solution to deal with issues in the office. By that time, the city had heard complaints for about a year that included staffing shortage, staff retention, perception of fairness among staff, overall efficiency and facility maintenance.  Florida Times-Union

FL: Pembroke Pines to contract with Charter Schools USA to manage schools. Parts of the city’s nationally recognized charter school system may be privatized as early as this week and more than 300 teachers could lose their jobs. Students, parents, and teachers fear that this change will lower the quality of education at the schools. But city officials say Pines doesn’t have enough money to keep the A-rated schools open and that privatizing parts of them is the only solution.  Sun-Sentinel