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Private Prison Lobbying Group Founded

A group of private prison has formed an alliance to promote the growth of the private prison industry and to further develop prisoners as a marketable commodity. Among the founding members of the Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations (APTCO) are industry giants Corrections Corporation of America, Wackenhut Corrections Corp., and Houstonbased Cornell Corrections, Inc., along with fourteen other service providers with a stake in the private prison industry.

The private prison industry as a whole has been battered by various scandals and lawsuits the past few years, which has resulted in a worsening public image for the companies. [PLN has reported on these events as they have unfolded.]

John O. Ferguson, CEO of CCA, attributes part of the industry's image problem to "misinformed statements" that could be addressed by a trade group. In other words, the industry has found it's in need of unified spin control.

According to Steve Logan, CEO of Cornell and president of the newly formed trade group, "APTCO provides a good platform to speak in one voice." Among the goals listed by the organizers are pooling data on issues such as reduction in the return rate of prisoners to private prisons (it's unclear whether their interest is in reducing recidivism or getting more prisoners herded into private prisons); boosting communication among companies, public agencies and others; and influencing public policy.

"The major purpose is government lobbying and public relations," said William Andrews, CCA's Chairman. "We can do it as an industry rather than as one company."

Richard Crane, an attorney in Nashville who consults with state and local governments on privatization, said he doesn't expect any sharing of information or practices that companies consider an advantage, but group members could pool resources, for example, to handle lawsuits affecting the overall industry.

Will this group lobbying effort move governmental tort reform into the realm of protecting private prison industries from lawsuits? Stranger things have happened. PLN will update its readers on any future developments.

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