by Michael Rigby
In an ongoing effort to make up for
what it lacks in prison management skills, Corrections Corporation of America continues to place high profile politicians with inside knowledge of state and federal prison systems in top positions within the company, sometimes even creating positions for them.
In December 2002, CCA announced the appointment of Thurgood Marshall Jr.son of late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshallto the company's Board of Directors and its newly created Nominating and Governance Committee. During the Clinton administration Marshall served as both Cabinet Secretary to the President and as Director of Legislative Affairs and Deputy Counsel to Vice President Al Gore. To accomodate the appointment, CCA expanded its Board of Directors from 10 to 11 positions.
CCA is also padding the company's ranks with state level politicians. In Tennessee, after the departure of Governor Sundquist's administration, CCA hired the state's former commissioner of Economic and Community Development, Tony Grande; commissioner of Human Services, Natasha Metcalf; and deputy to the governor for Health Policy, John Tighe. CCA, which is based in Nashville, placed all of them in vice-president level positions.
CCA's political posturing continues to be paying off. In May 2002 CCA was awarded a federal BOP contract to manage 1,500 federal prisoners in McRae, Georgia. The contract could generate as much as $109 million in revenues within the first three years. The new contract brought the total number of federal prisoners under CCA control to 6,500.
Some political watch dog groups are concerned about the burgeoning prison industrial complex. Nada Khastagir, spokesperson for the San Francisco based Corpwatch, says boundaries become blurred when the government and private sector mix. "We don't even believe that corporations and prisons should be joined together," she said.
CCA has always excelled at political hardball; and hiring politicians to bolster their leverage in acquiring lucrative state and federal contracts is typical. "This is the way CCA operates," says Ed Bender, research director at the National Institute on Money in State Politics. "They are getting people who know the system." [See back issues of PLN for more on CCA and other private prisons]. g
Sources: CCA Press Releases, nashvillecitypaper.com
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