As it stands now, only local district attorneys (or U.S. Attorneys for federal crimes) conduct investigations when prison guards are charged with brutality or other crimes. According to the LA Times, in the last ten years not one local D.A. has successfully prosecuted a California prison guard; this in a period when 39 prisoners were shot dead and another 200 or so wounded by prison guards.
Lockyer introduced the legislation because local DA's are afraid to incur the wrath of the CCPOA. Former Kings County District Attorney Donald Strickland knows about the sting of CCPOA retribution. Strickland, who once prosecuted a prison guard for misconduct, found himself voted out of a job after the CCPOA spent $27,000 distributing campaign flyers denouncing him as a "friend of prison gangs." [See: "Corcoran Prison Sex, Lies and Videotape" PLN, Oct. 1998]
"The CCPOA torpedoed this [legislation]," Lockyer told the Times. "One of the assemblymen who voted against it, Jim Battin, pulled me aside and said, 'Bill, sorry, but I'm whoring for the CCPOA.' At least he was honest. The others who voted against it were either stupid or disingenuous."
According to public records, Battin, a member of the assembly Public Safety Committee that killed Lockyer's bill, received $105,000 in campaign contributions from the CCPOA.
If You Build It, They May Not Come
The Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America has a spanking new $100 million, 2,300 bed maximum security prison sitting empty in the middle of the Mojave Desert. CCA built the prison on speculation, assuming that in a state with the largest and most overcrowded prison system the California City facility would be a sure bet.
But CCA underestimated the political prowess of California's prison guard union; the CCPOA doesn't like private prisons. And neither does Gov. Gray Davis, the beneficiary of $2 million in CCPOA campaign contributions.
"I don't feel comfortable," Davis told the Times, "having any prison that isn't managed and operated by sworn officers.''
CCPOA's politicos in the state assembly have been turning some pretty impressive tricks to ensure that private prisons don't encroach on CCPOA's territory. A proposed Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA 10) would bar private prison companies from contracting with local governments. Senate Bill 1313 would ban privately operated prisons in the state, and Assembly Bill 1222, already approved by the Public Safety Committee, would preclude CCA from filling its 2,300 bed prison with out of state prisoners.
For it's part, the federal Bureau of Prisons says it has no plans to house federal prisoners at the Mojave site. "We do not believe they [CCA] have demonstrated a track record of managing medium- and high-security populations," BOP spokesperson Todd Craig told the Times.
CCA, whose parent company Prison Realty Corp. had a reported 1998 revenue of $662 million, may end up having to out-pimp the CCPOA in the California State Assembly before it can fill up its Mojave prison with revenue-producing prisoners. In the meantime the gleaming 2,300 bed lockup shimmers like an elusive mirage in the Mojave Desert, testament to the power of California's prison guards union and its well-paid whores in state government.
LA Times, P.C.I. News Bulletin
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login