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Resolutions & Amendments

27th International Convention - Chicago, IL (1986)

Contracting Out Correctional Facilities

Resolution No. 69
27th International Convention
June 23-27, 1986
Chicago, IL


The total number of prisoners incarcerated in the United States has grown rapidly over recent years. While state and local governments have struggled to accommodate these increasing prison populations, adding an estimated 100,000 new beds since 1980, the number of inmates has increased by more than 134,000 during the same period; and


State correctional facilities in the U.S. are operating, on average, at approximately 116 percent of capacity. Some states are operating at as high as 160 percent of capacity; and


Private, profit-oriented corporations such as Control Data Corporation, RCA, E.F Hutton, Corrections Corporation of America, Wackenhut, and others, anxious to take advantage of this prison crisis, have geared up their marketing departments to exploit what they see as a $10 million growth industry that offers the prospect of sizable profits; and


The U.S. Bureau of Prisons and the Immigration and Naturalization Service have established a precedent by using private corporations to build and operate several correctional facilities to house illegal immigrants and other short-term detainees; and


Private corporate public relations experts have attempted to take this limited experience with the federal government and sell their corporations to state and local governments as "new entrepreneurs" in the field of corrections with new ideas to solve the problems facing our criminal justice system; and


Past experience with the private sector delivery of public services such as nursing homes, mental health institutions and private hospitals has resulted in higher costs, poorer services, a loss of accountability and increased corruption; and


Previous private sector involvement in the field of corrections, particularly where private corporations were allowed to operate entire correctional facilities, has been disastrously inhumane, abusive and corrupt, leading a majority of states to enact legislation prohibiting private corporations from operating correctional institutions; and


The current move by private corporations to re-enter the field of corrections raises serious legal questions, creates an inherent conflict of interest, and threatens the professionalism of the corrections occupation.


That this 27th International Convention reaffirm AFSCME's leadership using all of its strength and resources-in the fight to combat the contracting out of correctional facilities and to force federal, state, and local governments to maintain their responsibilities for the incarceration and rehabilitation of those individuals who violated the law of society; and


That AFSCME continue to work with other local and national organizations interested in preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system to prevent private corporations from operating correctional institutions.


Renee Gaudino, President
Local 3183, Council 97

Peter Fears, Director
Council 97  Phoenix, Arizona