CCA Business as Usual

For the most part, when the private prison industry exceeds the bounds of law and order, it abuses standards of corruption and influence-peddling rather than prisoners. CCA, for example, has been linked to possible corrupt practices over its cozy relationships with state and local offcials in its home state, Tennessee. The U.S. attorney in Nashville is investigating charges of bribery or kickbacks surrounding a million dollar contract award to CCA to operate the South Central Correctional Center in Pikeville. Suspicion was aroused by the discoveries that CCA was significantly underbid by U.S. Corrections corporation and that CCA original shareholders were influential state and local politicians, including current Governor Ned McWherter; Honey Alexander, the wife of former Governor Lamar Alexander; and Alexander's insurance commissioner, John Neff. Although McWherter and Ms. Alexander divested their company stock in 1985 to avoid conflict of interest charges, the relationship between CCA and high state officials remains very friendly. It was Governor McWherter's administration that ram rodded the entire privatization scheme that resulted in the disputed contract.

CCA's "scratch my back" relationship with public officials is also apparent at the Silverdale Work house, the first prison it managed. After Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Long voted to approve CCA's proposal, his pest control company was awarded a CCA contract. When Long later left his government post, he was hired by CCA to lobby his former fellow commissioners on its behalf.

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