Saturday, December 20, 2003


The buzz is still going strong on the 9th Circuit medical marijuana decision. I'm sure you've seen the press but I can't resist posting one last link to Ann Harrison's coverage in Counterpunch. With her usual attention to detail, Ann gets the quotes that define the story including the end of the Angel Raich quote that has been making the rounds.

"I have the truth on my side, and it was nice to see the justices of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals care about my life."

I continue to be enheartened by this new spirit of rebellion in the judiciary and the shift back towards common sense and humanity in sentencing. Hats off to these brave jurists and may their brethren be inspired to equal courage in the face of Ashcroft's bullying. With more decisions like this, we may be able to shut down the corrupt private prison industry.

Thanks to Jules Siegel for forwarding a timely press release on a new study analyzing how the prison-industrial complex as embodied by it's largest purveyor of private prison cells, Corrections Corporation of America, is failing to meet its obligations. From the release:

The 81-page study, commissioned by North Carolina-based Grassroots Leadership, takes an in-depth look at the scandals, deficiencies, and overstatement of performance in more than a dozen states (including Florida, Texas, Tennessee, and Arizona) and the District of Columbia where CCA operates.

..."The trend among states to shorten sentences to reduce prison crowding and narrow budget gaps is good public policy, but it makes CCA a risky investment," said Philip Mattera of The Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First, who helped write the report for Grassroots Leadership.

"Not only will CCA be unable to fill its beds, but the company has not improved operationally and is still mired by debt and controversy since going virtually bankrupt in the late 1990s."

..."States should think twice before signing any new contracts with CCA," said co-author Mafruza Khan, also from Good Jobs First. "This report shows that CCA has not undergone any significant transformation since being racked by scandals at its prisons in the late 1990s. It is still involved in numerous controversies and lawsuits involving conditions in its facilities."

The release also makes reference to CCA's influence on drug war policy.

The study also notes hefty campaign contributions by CCA to legislators to drive policies to maintain and grow the prisoner population. The report reviews cases in which CCA appeared to use its contributions and ties with public officials and legislators to help it win new contracts and influence public policy. According to the Institute on Money in State Politics (, 830 candidates in the 2000 election received contributions from the private prison industry for a total of $1.12 million. CCA was the top giver with 600 contributions for a total of $443,300..

You can be certain they are not funding drug policy reform. The entire report is available here.


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