Recently, Minnesota COs won a major victory against privatization forces. Unlike state- or locally-run facilities, private facilities don't have the same protections or transparencies that public corrections facilities do.
By organizing together, the COs were able to protect their jobs and high professional standards are maintained in our industry.
In a major victory in AFSCME's fight against privatization, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) - the nation's largest owner and operator of private prisons - will shut down its Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, MN on Feb. 1.
"This shutdown is a huge victory for us," says Eliot Seide, Council 5 executive director and an AFSCME International vice president. "We're pushing government to take responsibility for corrections, not pass the buck to private corporations that profit from prisons."
Adds Tim Henderson, a corrections officer and president of Local 2728, "We have been lobbying for a bill that will prevent our state from renting out its responsibilities. Our efforts are paying off. A growing number of legislators are now convinced that privateers shouldn’t profit from prisons."
The Appleton facility housed fewer than 250 inmates last year, in part because Minnesota is placing more offenders in state-run facilities. Prisoners from the privately-owned 1,600-bed jail will be transferred to a public detention complex in Faribault.
Henderson, chairman of Council 5's Corrections Policy Committee, adds that the next step is to help elect a labor-friendly governor this year.
In 2009, AFSCME members successfully blocked an attempt to shut down the state's Moose Lake prison and transfer its inmates to Appleton. "We've been at war with the privateers and we won't stop until Minnesota places all of its inmates in state-run corrections facilities," Henderson asserts. "That is our mission."
In 2008, CCA siphoned off $1.46 billion from taxpayers across the nation on its way to earning record profits of $151 million. CCA holds 75,000 inmates at more than 65 facilities it owns or operates in 19 states.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees