The commentary by Kat Brady ("Using private prisons costs more than it seems," Star-Advertiser, June 18) regarding Hawaii’s partnership with Corrections Corp. of America for the secure housing of Hawaiian inmates on the mainland overlooked several important facts.
For more than a decade, CCA has partnered with Hawaii to relieve prison overcrowding. In doing so, CCA has provided cost-effective prison space and services that include meaningful rehabilitation programs to help inmates stay out of prison once released. Because we know that individuals with greater education are less likely to commit crimes, we offer education programs, including adult basic education, GED classes and computer and life-skills training. Similarly, individuals with job skills are less likely to re-offend, so we offer vocational programs, including electrical, wood working/cabinetry, plumbing and carpentry, as well as meaningful work opportunities within our facilities to instill strong work habits. CCA recognizes that individuals free from substance abuse have greater opportunity to succeed, so CCA provides credentialed substance abuse treatment programs. We also offer native Hawaiian cultural activities, faith-based programs, hobby shop, music room and video visitation. In concert with our government partner, we provide these services because it is the right thing to do for inmates and taxpayers.
To ensure that we are accountable, Hawaii’s contract with CCA sets requirements for services and performance. One requirement is accreditation by the American Correctional Association – the nation’s highest standard of professional correctional services. This means that in addition to oversight from Hawaii officials – who have full access to our prisons – we are also audited and inspected by an independent team of professional experts.
Separately, CCA meets all Hawaii and American Correctional Association requirements for appropriate staffing levels within our Saguaro facility. Additionally, we offer comprehensive training of our correctional professionals, including a minimum of 200 hours of initial training, along with at least 40 hours of annual training. CCA’s emphasis on training and leadership development, along with a healthy work environment, is why our staff retention level at Saguaro meets or exceeds most other correctional systems.
Finally, the author erroneously questions CCA’s stance regarding sentencing policies. CCA does not lobby on sentencing policies.
We know from experience that to succeed, we must be accountable to our government partners and meet or exceed their expectations; we’ve been doing so for 27 years.
CCA is proud of our longstanding partnership with Hawaii. We remain committed to providing cost effective solutions that meet the state’s prison needs. We firmly believe this partnership allows Hawaii to gain the best of both worlds: the oversight and accountability of government with the innovation and cost-effectiveness of business.
Ron Thompson is vice president of operations for Corrections Corp. of America, overseeing the operations of its mainland prisons that include Hawaii inmates.