Submitted by Ralph Wilson on
Charles Koch and the Koch machine continue to press for changes to federal laws to make it harder to prosecute corporate crimes, as part of criminal justice "reforms," but the Koch-connected network is already at the trough for public funds intended to help prisoners with "reentry" into society.
That network is poised to take advantage of proposed federal reforms that expand reentry and early release in response to the dramatic, and unjust, racial disparities in prosecution, sentencing, and imprisonment, as illustrated by the case study below following the money in Florida.
Today, the Center for Media and Democracy/PRWatch is also publishing an editorial comment to accompany the in-depth research and analysis below by Ralph Wilson who has done breakthrough work exposing the Koch cash distorting the public university system in Florida and who has also helped advance the work of UnKoch My Campus.
-- Lisa Graves, Editor-in-Chief and Executive Director of CMD
By Ralph Wilson
Charles Koch has taken a high-profile in pushing criminal justice reform. He recently likened1 his own devotion to that of Bernie Sanders.
Koch even compared2 the work of his network to that of America's civil rights movement, a movement he helped obstruct through his financial support for the John Birch Society and his leadership role in its Wichita operations at the height of its attacks on Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as CMD was the first to document.3
In a 2015 interview with USA Today,4 Koch claimed that of the projected $889 million raised by his donor network, the "Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce," only $300 million would be spent on direct electoral politics, whereas:
"A good part of the rest is education and research," Koch said, ticking off university grants and other projects he is supporting, including an overhaul of the criminal justice system.
Among other spending, Koch recently announced5 a $3.5 million donation to Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law, for a Criminal Justice Reform Center. Just this week, Florida State University (infamous for Koch's corrupt academic influence), has announced an $800K agreement with the Koch foundation for programs including criminal justice reform.
When one of the richest people in the world--with a seemingly unquenchable desire for political power6 and a documented anti-civil rights history--calls for overhauling the criminal justice system, who answers that call?
Recent records requests at Florida State University shed light on the network of "reformers" poised to rise to the occasion of Koch's criminal justice "overhaul."
One of those individuals described Koch's interest in criminal justice reform as "potentially aggressive."7 But, such aggression is nothing new at Florida State University where Koch and his money has exercised extraordinary influence, which the state has sought to secretize after it was exposed. (This author helped organize "Unkoch My Campus" efforts at FSU.)
Some of the "reformers" have a history of aggressive corrections privatization that could well repeat itself and expand if Koch-backed criminal justice reforms are adopted intact.
This special report details this history through a case study of Florida's privation of various reentry operations.
* Florida State University's Project for Accountable Justice (PAJ) is the product of a pro-corporate criminal justice reform movement, Right on Crime, pushed by Koch, SPN and ALEC.
* Florida's Right on Crime efforts are an initiative of contractors, lobbyists, and trade groups who stand to gain directly and indirectly from the reforms being advocated, namely--the increased privatization corrections and expansion of private re-entry services.
* PAJ's Allison DeFoor, a former judge, sheriff, lobbyist, and now prison chaplain, maintains a reputation as a criminal justice "superstar" despite a history of corruption and profiteering from private corrections.
How "Right on Crime" Fits into the Koch Playbook for "Reform"
Right on Crime8 was a project launched in 2010 by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), a "think tank" active in the State Policy Network and ALEC. (See related map on Little Sis.)
That's the same year that Charles Koch's corporation, Koch Industries, made a major donation to TPPF, which was uncovered by investigative journalists in the state, as CMD detailed in its "Koch Trojan Horse" special report.9
As of 2013, TPPF had received10 at least $3,314,591 from donors and entities connected to the Koch network (including Donors Trust11 and Donors Capital Fund,12 who supplied TPPF with $760,100 in 2014 alone), but the total amount from Koch Industries or personal checks from the Kochs is not publicly disclosed.
Right on Crime describes itself as "a national campaign to promote successful, conservative solutions on American criminal justice policy—reforming the system to ensure public safety, shrink government, and save taxpayers money."
As CMD was the first to document, some of Kochs' passion for the TPPF-Right on Crime reform package is self-interested, pushing for reforms that make it harder to prosecute corporate crimes, especially environmental crimes and financial violations—through changes to the "mens rea" or criminal intent standard.
Indeed, this fight against what the Koch network calls "over-criminalization" is focused on corporations not minorities, and it was an early part of what has now become Right on Crime's broader reform movement.
The Reentry Agenda
Many of these reforms focus on reducing costs by reducing recidivism, or repeating criminal offenses. Right on Crime's website13 reads "[r]educing recidivism should be a central focus of conservative efforts to reform criminal justice."
Toward those ends, it advocates for the expansion of "performance" funding for contracted prison alternatives and "reentry" services: "[c]orrections funding should be partly linked to outcomes and should implement proven strategies along the spectrum between basic probation and prison."
Reentry and Privatization
It should come as no surprise that these reform efforts coincide with an expansion of private reentry contractors.
Private prisons like Geo Group and Corrections Corporation of America14 (CCA), as part of their aggressive15 profit-driven strategy, are branching-out heavily into contracts for prison alternatives and reentry services, as the public clamors for alternatives to the mass incarceration that has made the U.S. the world's "leader" in imprisoning its citizens.
Public interest groups like Grassroots Leadership define this privatization as the "Treatment Industrial Complex"16:
the movement of the for-profit prison industry into correctional medical care, mental health treatment, and "community corrections." Community Corrections include correction programs outside of jail or prison walls: probation and parole services including halfway houses; day reporting centers; drug and alcohol treatment programs; home confinement; electronic monitoring; and an array of supportive services such as educational classes and job training.
In 2014, for example, one year after acquiring reentry provider Correctional Alternatives Inc.17 for $36 million, CCA announced18 that "Reentry programs and reducing recidivism are 100 percent aligned with our business model."
GEO Group's reentry arm, GEO Care (now Correct Care Recovery Solutions19) advertises20:
Save valuable funds with residential programs, a lower cost option to incarceration. Offenders participate in treatment and training while living in the community, and they can be monitored with electronic monitoring, if necessary.
In 2010, Geo Group announced21 a $685 million dollar merger with Cornell Companies, "a private provider of corrections, treatment and educational services." Its announcement described the combined company was "well positioned to capitalize on growing global demand for correctional, detention and behavioral health services."
As of 2010,22 five of GEO's seven "residential treatment" facilities were operating in Florida, and by 2011, contracts with Florida accounted for 11% of GEO's total revenue.23
That same year, a GEO Care mental health facility in Florida was investigated after three patients were killed "unnaturally" within two months.24 A larger pattern of negligence, violence, death, and sexual abuse was exposed in 2015 by the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune.25 Texas GEO Care facilities were also investigated in 2011.
Partners in "Right on Crime"
Florida State University's Project for Accountable Justice26 (PAJ) was launched in 2012, and describes itself as a "unique partnership" between FSU, Tallahassee Community College, Saint Petersburg College, and Baylor University (Texas), a "collaborative public policy research laboratory" whose mission is "to advance public safety through evidence-based practices and policies in Florida and beyond."
A review reveals that the "unique partnership" is nearly identical to the assemblage of corporate reformers who launched "Right on Crime Florida."
Some of these "reformers"--some of Florida's most powerful free market think tanks, lobbyists, and politicians--have been involved in corrections privatization in Florida for decades, with several directly affiliated with self-interested corrections contractors.
For example, in 2009, the "Coalition for Smart Justice" was established at a Justice Summit hosted by27 FSU's Leroy Collins Center for Public Policy with researchers and lobbyists from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) (Florida's largest big business groups), Florida Taxwatch, the James Madison Institute (part of the State Policy Network28 "think tanks"), and several contractors who stand to receive contracts from "smart justice" reforms.
This coalition launched a Right on Crime Florida campaign in 2011.29
In the following year, they published the Florida ROC Principles30 and launched the Project on Accountable Justice (PAJ) inside FSU's Florida Institute for Government.31
PAJ's founding director Deborah Brodsky, came directly from Florida Taxwatch. Brodsky has held various positions32 with Taxwatch since 1998, including Chief of Staff, and as of 2011 was Executive Director of the Florida Taxwatch Center for Smart Justice.33
PAJ's founding chair, and Vice Chair of the Taxwatch Center for Smart Justice,34 Allison DeFoor also chaired FSU's Leroy Collins Institute35 when PAJ was founded. As of 2011, DeFoor served on AIF's board of directors,36 the board of governors of the Florida Chamber of Commerce,37 and was a longtime trustee of the Chamber's research arm, the Florida Chamber Foundation.38
As reported in a 201339 FSU publication, Robert Stork provided $42,000 in "seed capital funding" for PAJ. Stork is the founding Chair of Florida Taxwatch's Center for Smart Justice.40
The Long Shadow of DeFoor
The Center for Public Integrity's Dave Levinthal41 recently published some of DeFoor's emails42 to Deborah Brodsky regarding the Charles Koch Foundation:
"I know you really hate them," he writes, "but we really need to send them some stuff. They have money. We don't."
Despite collaboration throughout 2015, DeFoor confirmed to Levinthal that the Kochs had not yet specifically funded PAJ.
In April 2015, PAJ co-hosted an event at FSU's School of Law43 with the Charles Koch Foundation and the Reason Foundation (which has long and deep ties to the Kochs44).
It featured former Texas legislator, senior fellow at Right on Crime,45 and ALEC legislator of the year,46 Jerry Madden. The Koch Foundation also held a similar event47 at Tallahassee Community College.48
In November of 2015, DeFoor was invited to to speak at Koch's Advancing Justice 201549 conference. During the panel, "Justice and Morality: A Faith Based Approach to Reform,"50 the moderator and audience were regaled by his credentials not only a prison minister (ordained in 200751) but also as a former Judge and Sheriff.
The key facts about DeFoor's history with Florida's criminal justice system were omitted from the panel; facts which happen to underscore some of the concerns related to privatized corrections and reentry.
In 1986, as a Monroe County Judge, DeFoor was publicly reprimanded for judicial misconduct52 after improperly utilizing his office to proliferate sales of an electronic monitoring device in which he held a financial interest. He was found to have directed contracts to a private parole contractor, PRIDE Inc. (one of Florida's largest prison labor53 contractors), which had agreed to use his device.
In 1988, DeFoor was elected Monroe Co. Sheriff54 where, in 1990, he oversaw55 the privatization of Monroe County Prisons to Wackenhut (part of which was later included in GEO Group). In 1991,56 he became Senior VP of Wackenhut Monitoring Systems Inc.
Right on Crime and Parole/Probation
Right on Crime has called for expansions of57 parole and probation, coupled with mandatory participation in other services:
Increase the use of custodial supervision alternatives such as probation and parole for nonviolent offenders. In many cases, these programs can also be linked to mandatory drug addiction treatment and mental health counseling that would prevent recidivism.
...it's critical that the corrections system hold these offenders accountable for their actions by holding a job or performing community service, attending required treatment programs, and staying crime- and drug-free.
Right on Crime also advocates harsher consequences59 for violation of parole/probation:
When the system has real teeth, the results can be dramatic: offenders subject to swift, certain and commensurate sanctions for rule violations [...] are less than half as likely to be arrested or fail a drug test.
Thus, some approaches to reentry can be seen as drivers back into the for-profit prison system.
The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 201560] creates mandates for "recidivism reduction programs" to be made "available to all eligible prisoners" through "recidivism reduction partnerships" with "nonprofits," "private entities," and "industry-sponsored organizations."
These include "faith-based classes or services," "occupation and vocational training," "industry-sponsored workforce development, education, or training," "productive activities" (prison work/labor), and drug/alcohol "recovery programming."
Other programs include "prerelease custody" for low risk offenders into "residential reentry center[s]," "home confinement" (24-electronic monitoring), or "community supervision," all requiring that the prisoner "remains current on any financial obligations imposed as part of the prisoner's sentence."
A five-year pilot program would establish a system of aggressive probation "premised on high-intensity supervision and the use of swift, predictable, and graduated sanctions for non-compliance,"including mandated home confinement and substance abuse treatment.
Private Parole Abuses
Privatization has resulted in serious problems of corruption.
Indeed, some of the largest private probation/parole providers across the country have been described as engaging in a pattern of profit-driven racketeering.
For example, an Alabama judge who examined private probation provider Judicial Corrections Services (JCS) Inc., described a "judicially sanctioned extortion racket."61
In another Alabama town, a lawsuit62 against JCS sought to:
stop the defendants -- [JCS] and the City of Clanton -- from continuing to operate a racketeering enterprise that is extorting money from impoverished individuals under threat of jail and from misusing the criminal justice system and probation process for profit.
Other private parole providers have drawn nearly-identical criticisms and lawsuits.
In 2015,63 Equal Justice Under the Law sued64 probation contractor Providence Community Corrections in Tennessee for violating racketeering laws, extorting money through "the wrongful use of fear."
Sentinel Offender Services, one of the nation's largest private parole providers, are involved in similar lawsuits throughout the country65 with over a dozen lawsuits in just two counties in Georgia, and another 15 in federal courts across Georgia, Florida, and California.
If a "judicially sanctioned racketeering" calls to mind the scandal of Judge Allison DeFoor, it is worth noting that in 1991 DeFoor was Vice President of Wackenhut Monitoring Systems, and Robert Contestabile was the President.
In 1992, Contestabile bought Wackenhut Monitoring,66 renaming it Sentinel Monitoring Corporation, then Sentinel Offender Services in 2000 "to better reflect our expansion to providing a broad spectrum of privatized probation services."
Between 200167 and 2011,68 DeFoor served as a lobbyist for Sentinel Offender Services. Colleen Castille, another Sentinel lobbyist, served on the board of FSU's Collins Center for Public Policy as recently as 2015.69
In 2011, Castille and DeFoor joined70 a lobbying firm, the Fiorentino Group, owned by member of the Florida Taxwatch Board of Directors71 and former Chamber trustee,72 Marty Fiorentino. Fiorentino's clients73 include Florida Taxwatch, Sentinel Offender Services LLC, and incidentally, Flint Hills Resources LLP (the subsidiary of Koch Industries that owns Georgia Pacific).
It's a small, small world after all in Florida's criminal justice reform cabal.
The Long Shadow of Bishop
In an email to the Charles Koch Foundation's John Hardin, Project on Accountable Justice (PAJ) Director Dr. Deborah Brodsky wrote74:
Our work in Florida has been deeply impacted by the room built around the conservative case for modernizing our criminal justice systems, notably through the work of Right on Crime across the country--tremendous partners of ours--and early support from the business community in Florida.
That "business community" support can be attributed in large part to Barney Bishop,75 former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, and self-described "outspoken advocate for the free enterprise system."
As CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, Bishop published a 2009 Smart on Crime76 report that recommended that Florida "invest a substantial portion of the $300 million originally proposed for prison construction, in a community-based diversion and reentry center in each circuit."
In 1993, Bishop created the Windsor Group,77 which "specialized in behavioral health care appropriations before the Florida legislature," and was "very successful in obtaining appropriations for our clients in the state budget."
Bishop served as President and CEO of AIF between 2004-2011, taking over one year after AIF contracted78 Bishop's lobbying firm, the Windsor Group, to run their "political operations unit."79
Adventures in Electronic Monitoring
Right on Crime reformers have called for the expansion80 of electronic monitoring, with increasingly sophisticated tracking technology, urging that lawmakers "[u]tilize GPS technology to monitor those on parole, which is more efficient and effective than phone check-in."
In 2011, private prison mega-corp Geo Group acquired BI Inc.81 for $415 million.
BI is one of the nation's largest electronic monitoring contractors, offering GPS tracking, alcohol detection, and other "evidence based82" supervision and treatment programs.
BI has been criticized nationally83 for exploitative treatment84 of immigrants, and it was hit with a class action suit85 for violation of civil rights. (It has denied any wrongdoing.)
BI Inc. was one of the clients86 that Bishop brought to Associated Industries of Florida in 2003 (the same year he was appointed to the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical Board of Trustees). Bishop is listed as a lobbyist for BI Inc. as early as 2002.87
Notably, as of its 2011 acquisition, BI Inc. was the sole provider88 of monitoring and supervision services for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as part of the Department of Homeland Security's "Alternatives to Detention" program.
Faith-Based Treatment and Work Placement
Another reformer, Lori Costantino-Brown, is the CEO of Christian Prison Ministries, which is now one of Florida's largest reentry providers (doing business as "Bridges of America," Inc.).
Constantino-Brown, like Barney Bishop, sits on the Board of Directors of the Florida Chamber of Commerce,89 the board of directors of Florida Taxwatch,90 and she is a founding member91] of the Smart Justice Committees of both Florida TaxWatch and Associated Industries of Florida. She was also the founding chair of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance, a lobbying group co-founded92 by DeFoor and Bishop in 2012.
Bridges of America has received substantial contracts for reentry and treatment services, with allocations totaling at least $134, 942,541, including a recent wave of electronic monitoring93 contracts as of 2013.
In 2013, Bishop and Bridges of America representatives testified94 in support of a reentry bill introduced by State Representative Dennis Baxley (as CMD was first to document, Baxley is the ALEC legislator that co-sponsored the NRA-drafted Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground bill). He is another Right on Crime advocate.95
In a press conference, Bishop described how the bill:
establishes one or more correctional reentry facilities dedicated specifically to providing substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, expanded work release opportunities, and educational, vocational and other services to help these prisoners acquire the tools to then begin to live within the law.
It would also expand work release with the "essential requirement" that "all work release inmates must wear electronic monitoring devices" (3:0096).
Eventually, the legislation aroused privatization concerns97 among lawmakers, as it "establish[ed] incentives for the reentry program to promote participation by private sector employers within the program."
Christian Prison Ministries has been a longtime client of Barney Bishop, and was his largest lobbying client98 in 2015, paying him $64,999 for lobbying Florida's legislative and executive branch.
In 201299 and 2013,100 Christian Prison Ministries provided at least $430,123 to Barney Bishop Consulting LLC, and at least $40,000 to Florida Taxwatch, $25,000 to the Florida Smart Justice Alliance.
After internal conflict arose in 2015,101 several board members resigned from the Florida Smart Justice Alliance, citing102 Bishop's motivations of "self-aggrandizement and personal gain."
Constantino-Brown's resignation letter that she had spent over $1,000,000 "in efforts to increase smart justice initiatives," during her time there (2012-2015).
During this conflict, it was discovered that the Florida Alliance for Smart Justice's tax exempt status had been revoked in May 2015.
As of May 2016, after a struggle to keep several sites open, Bridges of America (now "Bridges International") settled with the Department of Corrections for a "temporary lifeline."103
Are You "Ready4Work?"
Robert Blount, the CEO of Abe Brown Ministries, was a founding advisory board member of Taxwatch's Center for Smart Justice.104
In 2014, Abe Brown Ministries launched a work release program called "Ready4Work" in Tampa, with $1.5 million from the DOC and the Hillsborough County Commission providing another $350,000.
As Blount told the Tampa Tribune,105 "the program will save taxpayers money by reducing recidivism."
Ready4Work106 is a program that was developed by Dr. Byron Johnson, who serves as the Baylor University partner at the Project on Accountable Justice. Johnson's methodologically flawed107 research into faith-based recidivism reduction was funded108 in large part by reentry provider and early partner of Right on Crime, Prison Fellowship Ministries.
His Ready4Work program was piloted by Operation New Hope (ONH) in Jacksonville Florida by real estate developer Kevin Gay, who has repeatedly boasted109 of ONH's "5% recidivism rate v.s. the national average 67%," and that "other Ready4Work rates nationally reflect a 4 to 25% recidivism rate. Gay has observed110 that since the "recidivism rate for Jacksonville is 54 percent [...] maintaining a five percent re-incarceration rate and helping these individuals stay crime free, the program could save the state over $5,454,925."
Contrary to Gay's claim, Ready4Work's 2008 final report111 reports 3-year re-arrest rates of 57%, compared to the national number 67.5%, while the "percent rearrested for a violent crime" within 6 months post-incarceration was 5.1%
Between 2009112 and 2012,113 the City of Jacksonville alone has contracted at least $452,148 to ONH for Ready4Work, and since 2012 the Florida DOC has contracts114 with ONH totaling at least $6,275,000.
ONH has since transformed into a strange real estate development project,115 where prison/reentry workers build houses that ONH then sells.
Despite the well-intentioned goals of training prisoners for post-prison employment, the expansion of prison labor (as proliferated by ALEC116) has been documented as coercive, including making some prisoners ineligible for good time credits unless they work or docking their minimum wage pay to subsidize the cost of incarceration.
Faith-Based Chaplains, too
Lester Abberger,117 the Chairman of FSU's Leroy Collins Institute is also the chair of Horizons Communities,118 a national prison ministry established by Kairos Prison Ministry.
Aberger is a board member119 of Taxwatch Center for Smart Justice, and a longtime lobbyist120 for Families Against Mandatory Minimums121 (FAMM).
FAMM has received funding Koch family foundations (David H. Koch122 and the Claude R. Lambe123 Charitable Foundations), in addition to $225,000 from Donors Trust or Donors Capital Fund124 between 2008-2014.
In 2005,125 the Florida legislature provided a $140,000 contract for Horizon volunteer coordinators for Tomoka Correctional Institution (CI) and Wakulla CI, continuing in 2006 and 2007.
In 2011, the same year Wakulla CI was converted into a Faith (and Character) based organization, the state allocated $500,000 for DOC Chaplain Services126] "for programs and services to diminish growth of the offender population." Horizons was contracted $503,100 in 2012,127 and $356,280 in 2015128 for "educational and life skills services"
DeFoor serves as an ordained prison chaplain serving at Wakulla CI,129 and serves as an advisory board member of Horizons Communities.
It's a small world after all.
Communications Contractors, too?
The Harris Corporation,130 a Florida-based defense contractor best known for their "Stingray" devices and surveillance activities, is currently Florida's top contractor for radio electronics, with approximately $1,412,337 in contracts Florida's Department of Corrections.
Another company, Communications International, Inc.,131 has received approximately $7,113,684 in contracts from the Florida Department of Corrections, for antennas, installation of electronics, and performing maintenance on Harris Corporation electronics.
Both Harris and Communications International have a presence in Florida's Right on Crime coalition.
Harris board member, Hansel Tookes II,132 serves on the board of the Leroy Collins Institute. The CEO and founder of Communications International Inc., Robert Stork, serves on the Executive Committee of Florida Taxwatch, and is the founding Chair of Florida Taxwatch's Center for Smart Justice.133
It was Robert Stork who, in 2013,134 provided $42,000 in "seed capital funding" for the Project on Accountable Justice.
Stork, a trustee134.a at Florida Polytechnic University , served135 as a member of a Senate Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, whose report summarized TaxWatch's electronic monitoring (EM) recommendation, namely "expanding EM as an alternative to incarceration either at sentencing or as part of a reentry program."
In a 2014136 op ed, Stork heralds the efficiency of Smart Justice reforms, "Programs such as drug rehabilitation, halfway houses, electronic monitoring, and employment opportunities enable post-incarceration nonviolent criminals to succeed and reduce recidivism."
The lobbying firm that DeFoor and Castile joined in 2011, the Fiorentino Group,137 who lists Harris Corp., Communications International, Inc., and Florida Taxwatch as clients.
Notably, Allison DeFoor was a registered lobbyist for Communications International Inc. between in 2011 and 2012, just before Robert Stork provided "seed funding" for PAJ.
Juvenile Justice, too!
There have also been documented abuses inflicted on children in privately contracted juvenile justice facilities.
For example, Green Isle Children's Ranch, founded137.a by Bridges of America's Don Brown, was eventually closed137.b after being investigated for allowed children to fight each other, feeding them rotten food, and failing to report sexual abuse.
Prominent GOP fundraiser and Chairman of the Sembler Company, Mel Sembler, founded a chain of residential drug treatment centers for teenagers called Straight Inc. whose "torture"137.c centers were found to employ systemic psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.
Now operating as the "Drug Free America Foundation," the board of directors137.d and advisory board137.e include Will Weatherford, Jeb Bush, and Martin Fiorentino. Sembler's son currently sits on FSU's Board of Trustees.137.f
Shortly after Straight Inc. closing, Ramsay Youth Services began contracting in what would become ten states and Puerto Rico as a "provider and manager of treatment, education and community-based programs for at-risk, troubled and special needs youth," including the West Palm Beach Girls Prison, which became one of many sites exposed in 2003 by allegations of systemic physical and sexual abuse of juveniles.
The Orlando Sentinel reported138 that Ramsay staff "had been accused of sexual misconduct more than two dozen times since," and that "[a]t least 15 workers have been disciplined in connection with those incidents."
Ramsay Youth Services was renamed Premier Behavioral Solutions, and then acquired139 by Psychiatric Solutions Inc. for $78 million in 2007.
Horrific patterns of abuse across the country by Psychiatric Solutions were exposed by LA Times140 and ProPublica141 in 2008.
In 2010 Psychiatric Solutions was purchased by Universal Health Care, whose offices were raided by federal agents142 in 2013 as part of an investigation into health care fraud, and whose parent company American Managed Care was subsequently143 dissolved after "a pattern of dishonesty or gross mismanagement."
Before he became Florida State University's President, John Thrasher was a lobbyist for Ramsay Youth Services (2003144), Psychiatric Solutions (2006145), and Universal Health Care's parent organization American Managed Care (2007146-2009147).
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Allison DeFoor was registered as a lobbyist for Ramsay Youth Services in 2000,148 the year that Ramsay secured several contracts in Florida.
In 2014, the Tampa Tribune described150 DeFoor as a "superstar in the fields of criminology and prison reform," who would be contracted through the Project on Accountable Justice by Hillsborough County. DeFoor was paid $22,300149 to "develop ways to measure the effectiveness of groups that provide services such as counseling, mentoring or substance-abuse treatment" in their juvenile civil citation program.
Hopeful sounding reforms like juvenile civil citation programs are designed to prevent youths and adults from entering the criminal justice system, yet in 2015, a law151 passed in Florida authorizes police:
to issue a civil citation or require participation in a similar diversion program; requiring a law enforcement officer to provide written documentation in certain circumstances
..and require participation in intervention services as indicated by an assessment of the needs of the juvenile, including family counseling, urinalysis monitoring, and substance abuse and mental health treatment services.
This appears to allow police total discretion to mandate participation in treatment programs without due process.
History of Privatization Repeating Itself
In 2009, the Coalition for Smart Justice "under the auspices of the Collins Center," held the inaugural Justice Summit.152
The business panel153 included Barney Bishop (AIF), Tony Carbohol (Florida Chamber of Commerce), and Dominic Calabro (Florida Taxwatch), and was moderated by Allison DeFoor.
DeFoor, who became an ordained prison chaplain just two years earlier, described his efforts to get funding from the state government ("the Hill") for faith-based reentry programming in Florida:
This was a political matter, and it was going to take a political campaign to change things, and fortunately I know a little bit about political campaigns and the thing I know most of all is that if you're going to put together a political campaign, the NGOs and the non-profits do not need to be your shock troops. The people who need to be your shock troops are the business community, because when the business community goes downtown to the hill, they aren't really begging as much as they're telling. (5:00)
Later in the panel, DeFoor joked about his time with Barney Bishop working as political "shock troops":
If the Florida Chamber [of Commerce] could be characterized as the outstretched hand, of welcome, of the business community, AIF could sometimes be described as the fist of the business community. I once described them as the Florida Chamber at night, in disguise, up to something. Barney is the type who wouldn't object to that.
Bishop responded, "Nope."
More Privatizers and Privatization
Despite Barney Bishop's 2009 passion for smart crime reforms and his criticisms of Florida's prison boom, he played an active role in expanding and privatizing Florida's corrections, as well as the corruption that ensued.
When interviewed in 2013154 about efforts to privatize Florida's work release centers, Bishop claimed that "99 times out of 100 the private sector is going to do better than the public sector."
From 2002-2004, contracts that expanded Florida's prison privatization were administered by the Correctional Privatization Commission (CPC), overseen by its Executive Director Alan Duffee.
This body notoriously provided contractual guarantees that Florida would keep prisons filled above 90% of prison's designed capacity, a "lock-up quota," which is routinely part of prison privatization schemes as Donald Cohen and his team at In the Public Interest155 have documented.
Shortly after the CPC was dissolved, Duffee was convicted and pleaded guilty to defrauding156 the state, embezzling and laundering funding meant for private prisons. Duffee was one of several persons157 involved with the CPC that was convicted of ethical wrongdoing in relation to administering contracts to private prisons.
Additionally, EMO Architects was one of the companies contracted by Alan Duffee in the expansion of prison expansions. Bishop represented EMO from 2002158-2004.159
In 2004, when Bishop stepped up as President of AIF, he sold his lobbying firm , the Windsor Group to Alan Duffee. Bishop said160 of Duffee at the time, "[w]e're anticipating he'll help us create a national consulting service for private prisons."
Another Windsor client at the time, Christian Prison Ministries,161 paid Bishop's Windsor Group $52,688 in 2004.162
Other players in Florida's corrections privatization include House Speaker Allan Bense and Donna Arduin (President of Arduin, Laffer, and Moore Econometrics). Both are signatories of the 2012 Statement of Florida's Right on Crime Principles, in addition to the national ROC Statement of Principles.162.a
As Beau Hodai has reported,163 Speaker Bense contracted Donna Arduin for $10,000 monthly. During a time there was a federal investigation into a system of kickbacks behind a private prison giveaway to Geo Group, Arduin was a compensated trustee of a real estate investment trust established by Wackenhut Corrections (Geo Group). All involved denied any wrongdoing.
In another example of the small world of criminal justice reform in Florida, Bense has chaired163.a the Florida Chamber of Commerce and currently chairs the James Madison Institute.
ALEC, of Course
Notably, PAJ Director Dr. Deborrah Brodsky wrote164 to the Koch Foundation's John Hardin:
My Board Chairman, Allison DeFoor, and I will be traveling to DC next week, December 4-5, where we will be making a presentation of one of our research projects to ALEC's Justice Performance Task Force [...] Would you be available to meet with us while we are in town?
As CMD has documented, ALEC is a corporate-funded group where corporate lobbyists vote as equals on task forces on "model" legislation, and the Koch fortune is the biggest funder of ALEC, through various entities.
In the past, ALEC's members have promoted the changes to criminal law that have fueled the over-incarceration crisis, which has led to progressive cries for criminal justice reform as a moral imperative.
These include mandatory minimum sentencing, three strikes laws, and "truth in sentencing."
ALEC's corporate sponsors165 have included prison vendors.166 The Justice Performance Project167 mentioned by Brodsky is a partial carryover of ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force (dropped in 2012 as a PR maneuver in the face of criticisms over ALEC's role in pushing "Stand Your Ground168" gun laws and the restrictive Voter ID laws that make it harder for Americans to vote).
Right on Crime's Jerry Madden, co-chaired this Task Force,169 as well as ALEC's Corrections and Reentry Working Group.170
ALEC's "Justice Performance Project" is backed by many Right on Crime reformers, including Families against Mandatory Minimums,171 Prison Fellowship Ministries, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Recent events put on by the Project on Accountable Justice have centered on the call for Florida to adopt Georgia's reentry policies that are literally ALEC-approved.172
As announced in 2012, "the Georgia Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform has produced a set of policy recommendations which align with ALEC model policies."
The confluence is demonstrated in Florida, too.
Former FSU President, Sandy D'Alemberte, headlined173 an event put on by the James Madison Institute, at St. Petersburg College (a PAJ partner university). The event was called "A Tale of Two States: What Can Florida Learn from Georgia's Criminal and Juvenile Justice Reforms?"
The Charles Koch Institute and PAJ put on a similar event at Florida State University in April 2015, called "Making Reform a Reality."174 That's the event where Allison DeFoor spoke with panelists including the Koch Foundation's John Hardin, and the Reason Foundation's director of Criminal Justice Reform, Lauren Galik.
The conversation pushed the question "What lessons can Florida learn from other states?"
Right on Crime and the ALEC "Tough On Crime" Legacy
Right on Crime's talking points175 are startlingly similar to the "Tough on Crime" talking points of past decades: private service providers will more effectively reduce recidivism, which reduces corrections spending and ensures "public safety."
It should not be surprising that many Right on Crime reformers were active in the Tough on Crime reform movement.
Documents176 from a 1994177 meeting of ALEC include ALEC/NRA legislative proposals calling for tough sentencing laws, sentencing juveniles as adults, and a report demanding "the legal authority for the states and localities to privatize prisons, jails, and other detention facilities."
Attendees included John McKay, Edwin Meese, Grover Norquist, William J. Bennett, Ronald Scheberle, and Newt Gingrich, all signatories of Florida's Right on Crime Principles178 (or in McKay's case, the 2009 smart justice open letter179). Sponsors of the ALEC conference listed in the program include BI Incorporated and CCA.
Meese (the former Attorney General chosen by President Ronald Reagan) presented a session, "From Crime to Security," whose description claimed that "America's crime rate has risen sharply in recent decades. Much of the cause can be traced to permissive policies, especially in corrections and the judiciary."
Meese, a past attendee180 of Charles Koch's donor summits, also serves on the board of directors of Koch's Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Incidentally, Charles and David Koch also attended the 1994 ALEC meeting and received its highest award for promoting "free market" policies.
Still for Private Prisons
Right on Crime advocates appear to be careful not to criticize profit motives with the corrections crisis, and in fact, they expressly promote181 the continued use of private prisons, suggesting that:
For those instances when prisons are necessary, explore private prison options. A study182 by The Reason Foundation indicated that private prisons offer cost savings of 10 to 15 percent compared to state-operated facilities. By including an incentive in private corrections contracts for lowering recidivism and the flexibility to innovate, private facilities could potentially not just save money but also compete to develop the most cost-effective recidivism reduction programming.
The same appears to go for Florida's Right on Crime reformers.
In 2012, the very same year that the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Taxwatch launched183 Right on Crime in Florida, the Chamber184 was described185 as "a primary lobbying force behind the Senate's failed push to privatize prisons" whose early momentum was attributed186 to a joint report187 by Florida Taxwatch and the Reason Foundation, which promotes a "bold, new approach: a continuum of care" where:
government contracts with private sector prison operators or service vendors to provide a range of correctional services—from financing, building and operating prisons to delivering a range of inmate services (e.g., health care, food, rehabilitation services) and administrative/operational support functions
Beginning in at least 2012,188 the GEO Group Foundation began contributing tens of thousands of dollars annually to both Florida Taxwatch and the Reason Foundation.
Florida State University, Dancing with the Kochtopus
David Rasmussen, Dean of FSU's College of Social Sciences, is the same administrator that oversaw the infamous Koch agreement in the Department of Economics.
In 2014, he met with the Charles Koch Foundation and discussed the Project on Accountable Justice. Rasmussen sits on PAJ's Executive Committee.189
After Rasmussen met with officials at the Charles Koch Foundation, it was communicated190 to the PAJ members that "the Charles Koch Foundation is beginning to shift its research focus away from economic freedom issues/concerns," adding:
[w]hat would really catch John [Hardin]'s/Koch Foundation's interest would be new tools/metrics to measures the economic costs/impact (both short and long-term) of the present criminal justice system on individual inmates and specific target populations within the system.
Such metrics would, for example, provide a basis for funding of corrections, as is openly advocated by Right on Crime.
After meeting with the Koch foundation, DeFoor described191 the "stunning meeting."
"The connection got buttressed," he adds, "by a connection with Slade O'Brien," a senior VP of Americans for Prosperity's Grassroots Leadership Academy.192 Slade O'Brien has been an attendee of the Kochs' secret donor summits.193
DeFoor then wrote to introduce his "old friend" Byron Johnson (PAJ's Baylor University partner) to John Hardin at the Charles Koch Foundation.
DeFoor shared his feeling that "This seemed Providential, and is doubtless congruent with your existing dance with some other parts of the Koch Octopus...:)."
Money in (University) Politics
Additional emails show that before going to meet with ALEC and the Koch Foundation in Washington D.C., DeFoor described194 a meeting with FSU President John Thrasher to discuss PAJ.
DeFoor clarified that it was "instigated quietly through Sandy by us."
Sandy D'Alemberte, former FSU president and "liberal" lawyer, puzzled Florida in 2014 when he nominated Senator John Thrasher to be FSU's next president.
A national uproar195 resulted from the appointment of Thrasher as FSU's President, a decision aided by several Right on Crime proponents.
D'Alemberte sat on the advisory board196 of the Florida Taxwatch Center for Smart Justice, and currently sits on the Executive Committee197 of the Project on Accountable Justice
The Presidential Search Committee was assembled by the Chair of FSU's Board of Trustees, Allan Bense (2012 FL ROC principles signatory, Chair of James Madison Institute, former Chair of Florida Taxwatch).
The search committee included John Mckay (ALEC198 Legislator), Jimmy Patronis (ALEC State Chair,199 and affiliated of the James Madison Institute), Kathryn Ballard (whose husband Brian Ballard200 has lobbied extensively for corrections contractors, including CCA,201 GEO Group,202 and problematic203 corrections healthcare contractor Corizon), Delores Spearman (whose husband Guy Spearman204 is a lobbyist for PRIDE Enterprises,204.a an ALEC affiliated prison labor public/private partnership that partnered with DeFoor's electronic monitoring business), Mike Harrell (who was a registered lobbyist for the Florida Smart Justice Alliance208), and Drew Weatherford (House Speaker Will Weatherford's brother, whose Strategos Public Affairs205 represents AMIkids, the problematic206 military reform juvenile justice contractor, where Allison DeFoor sits on the board207).
Barney Bishop published209 his support for D'Alambert's nomination, "Sandy D'Alemberte is right. John Thrasher is well-qualified to become Florida State University's next president."
A two-time ethics violator209.a and 1998 ALEC Legislator of the Year,209.b John Thrasher co-founded a lobbying firm called the Southern Strategy Group.
Southern Strategy contracted209.c under Bishop's Windsor group, and as of 2013, Koch Industries' core Florida lobbyists Mercer Fearington Jr.209.d and James C. (Clark) Smith209.e are housed209.f in Southern Strategy.
Needless to say, DeFoor had considerable confidence in his meeting with Thrasher, "John and I are very old friends, so it will be well." (They may have crossed paths in the statehouse, as DeFoor served as the Vice Chair of the Florida Republican Party).
Thrasher's political history is well known, as a champion210 of the failed 2012 move to mass privatize Florida's Department of Corrections.
So, when Charles Koch calls for the American criminal justice system to be overhauled, the army that is poised to answer the call is the army that Koch and others have been fueling through funding groups that push privatization and through other tangled relationships between business, government, and academia.
This definitely includes imbedding operatives who share Koch's agenda in institutions of higher education as part of an integrated strategy the Koch network calls the "Structure of Social Change."210.a
The Project on Accountable Justice is a striking example of the corporatization of education and the integration of Koch's Academic Industrial Complex with the Prison/Treatment Industrial Complex.
One unique partner, Tallahassee Community College (TCC) is home to the Gadsden Re-Entry Center,211a 76,000-square-foot minimum security reentry prison sitting on the grounds of TCC's Florida Public Safety Institute, the "first collaboration of its kind between the state Department of Corrections and a college."
Unsurprisingly, Allison DeFoor served on TCC's Board of Trustees212 during its creation.
It is indeed a small, small world in the machine peddling Koch-backed criminal justice "reforms."
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