January 06, 2002
Magda Lynn Seymour
Diane S. Witiak
(202) 639-6419

Bush Privatization Quotas Threaten Public Safety

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)— Responding to President Bush’s irresponsible and dangerous privatization quotas, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has placed 7,200 federal corrections positions on its latest Fair Act “hit list.”

Bush’s mandatory quotas, which have been imposed on all Executive Branch agencies, require that five percent of FAIR Act-listed jobs be either competed or directly privatized in 2002, an additional 10 percent in 2003 and 15 percent more in 2004.

The private contractors who stand to benefit at the expense of public safety—if federal prison jobs are privatized—are the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut. Together these firms control 75 percent of the private prison “industry.”

Numerous newspaper accounts have documented riots and escapes at CCA facilities. Colorado, North and South Carolina, Texas and New Mexico have all experienced public safety disasters and cost overruns as a result of contracting out prisons to CCA. In the last several years, some 100 instances of financial overcharges, escapes, contract cancellations and lawsuits involving CCA have been reported. Wackenhut’s record is no better, with equivalent numbers of public safety and criminal lapses reported since 1999.

“Bush’s privatization boondoggle allows DOJ to meet its quotas without public-private competition,” stated National President Bobby L. Harnage. “That means the American people may have their safety compromised through federal prison privatization and at the same time pay more than continued federalization would cost.”

“Federal prison security is inherently governmental. The law enforcement and public safety function they provide should not be contracted out to meet arbitrary privatization quotas,” added Harnage. “Federal employees, directly accountable to the taxpayers who employ them, should maintain this critical function.”

“The outsourcing of public safety has proven to be a very dangerous business,” continued Harnage. “The terrorist attacks of September 11 forced America to reconsider the wisdom of turning important law enforcement and public safety responsibilities over to profit-hungry contractors who are more worried about next quarter’s profits than the public safety.”

“Bush’s egregious privatization policy, if allowed to proceed, will eliminate some 425,000 federal workers and replace these dedicated employees with ill-trained, profit-driven contractors,” concluded Harnage. “It’s time Bush recognized that the government’s obligation to protect its citizens cannot be met by handing over inherently governmental functions to the lowest bidder. Common sense tells us that only public employees should fulfill this public obligation.”

AFGE is preparing a formal protest, objecting to DOJ’s attempt to privatize federal corrections officers.

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