Fight Prison Privatization

RECEIVED Tue., July 27, 2004

Dear Editor,
   The Federal Bureau of Prisons is on the verge of extinction ["No Money at the Big House," News, July 23]. This law enforcement agency, under the Department of Justice, is being forced there by the current political administration in Washington, D.C., led by President George W. Bush. Extinction is being accomplished by significantly reducing current and future BOP budgets.
   The BOP currently houses approximately 179,000 inmates in its 104 facilities. It is staffed at only 89%; additional cuts could lower that. Would the average citizen accept dangerous staffing shortages in their local law enforcement agency?
   Bush has proposed a cut of $350 million for 2005; seems Bush favors privatization of the BOP. By reducing BOP staffing through budget cuts, he'll ensure BOP facilities cannot perform adequately and privatization will be the only option; a setup for failure.
   What does cutting the budget mean to the public? The security of federal prisons will be far less dependable. What if you live near a prison and hear reports that inmates had just escaped and are in your area? If you know someone who works in a federal prison (Bastrop is the closest one), now is a good time to show concern for their safety.
   Help by calling or writing your senators and congressmen. Tell them to support the BOP. Tell them to vote against initiatives depriving the BOP of its funding. Tell them to speak out against privatizing prisons. Ask them why federal prisons aren't being funded commensurately with other law enforcement agencies involved in the fight against terrorism.
   Privately owned prisons operate for profit. These are businesses, and like any business their intent is to make money. Is the confinement of dangerous inmates an area where you'd risk cutting corners to save a dollar? If your answer is no, get involved.
Jeff Ormsby
Local union president at FCI Bastrop
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