What, CCPOA, no opposition?

California prison guard union’s silence on Prop 47 smells funky…

Apocalypse Hoosegow 9_CCPOA EDITION_Where Excuses Go to DieIn 2011, the CCPOA claimed it had “played a decisive role” in electing Governor Jerry Brown after dropping $2 million on his campaign alone. The characteristic boast came in the form of a video called “The Winners,” griped about at the time by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez.

That year, the union endorsed candidates it favored to the tune of $7 million and received plenty in exchange. Of 107 candidates it backed in California, 104 were elected.

It’s no secret that the CCPOA is one of the most influential unions in American history: it’s been building that power in earnest since the ‘80s, when CCPOA-sponsored legislation began to be successful about 80% of the time. Not surprisingly, this period includes some of California’s most intractable laws, such as 1984’s infamous Three Strikes legislation. “The formula is simple,” writes Joan Petersilia in Volume 37 of Crime and Justice: A Review of Research. “More prisoners lead to more prisons; more prisons require more guards; more guards means more dues-paying members and fund-raising capability; and fund-raising, of course, translates into political influence.” Naturally, the CCPOA has a vested interest in keeping incarceration and recidivism rates high. Read more

Of Prisoners and Payouts

When I was doing time here in California, inmates used to joke about prisoners in other states unlucky enough to be plucked from their general populations to serve as private prison guinea pigs. Though we heard some volunteered, it was said most were too doped up to argue or had requested an out-of-state transfer without knowing where they’d be going or how their receiving facilities were being run. Suckers.

They were doomed and we were fortunate that California hosted no privately operated prisons at the time: some southern states had several up and running. But with Bank of America investing hugely in the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), followed by Wells Fargo and others, for-profit prisons were about to explode.  Read more