As eyes turn to the puzzling appointment of Castle & Cooke lobbyist to head the agency he’s been trying to render impotent, another inappropriate Ige lobbyist nomination is up for confirmation.
Douglas Chin, Carlsmith Ball Attorney & chief lobbyist for the infamous Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has been appointed for Attorney General. His confirmation comes tomorrow Feb 13th and testimony can be submitted on GM513.
This ties in with Castle & Cooke lobbyist, Carleton Ching to head DLNR, the agency which will approve the massive swap of polluted Castle & Cooke land for land near the East Kapolei rail route. Part of this land is intended for a new private prison (SB1374)
Private prisons and, in particular, the role of CCA are a subject of much controversy. CCA maintains a strong lobbying presence at most state legislatures working to influence legislation such as the 2014 state senate SCR120 urging the governor to build private prison facilities. In 2014 they spent $1,020,000 on lobbying the states. CCA denies that they lobby for harsher sentences and against legalization of marijuana but they write in their 2011 SEC report:
“The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”
In 2013, the ACLU wrote:
As detailed in a 2011 ACLU report, massive increases in overall incarceration rates from the 1970s onward created a fertile environment for the growth of for-profit imprisonment. From 1970 to 2005, the U.S. prison population increased by approximately 700% – far outpacing crime rates and the growth of the general population. Today, more Americans are deprived of their liberty than ever before – unfairly and unnecessarily, with little benefit to public safety. Many of them are in private prisons: the latest figures from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics show that for-profit companies presently control about 18% of federal prisoners and 6.7% of all state prisoners, and the most recent federal survey of correctional facilities revealed that private prisons accounted for nearly all of the new prisons built between 2000 and 2005.
The growth of for-profit prisons also coincided with a dramatic increase in immigration detention.
According to Hawaii News Now Kat Brady of Community Alliance on Prisons testified against SCR120 saying,
“Opening the door to them in Hawaii would be really a disastrous and bad move for us. They don’t want to just come in. They want to take over.”
Huffington Post writes that both Illinois and New York have passed laws prohibiting private prisons.
As Attorney General CCA lobbyist Chin will review and authorize the CCA prison contracts (worth $34 million) and defend against several inmate lawsuits against CCA (and Hawaii).
So let’s review Governor Ige’s conflict-of-interest lobbyist appointments so far:
- Douglas Chin, lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America will be signing off on their $34,000,000 contract.
- Carleton Ching, lobbyist for Castle & Cooke will be signing off on the C&C land swap, Koa Ridge, C&C water requests etc.
- Rachael Wong, lobbyist for Healthcare Assoc of Hawai’i
- Kekoa Kaluhiwa lobbyist for Big Wind at Kuano’o Communications and Nevada registered GeoPolicy Group for #2 spot at DLNR.
David Ige as chair of state senate Ways and Means committee built up many friendships in the senate because of his cordial and modest demeanor and the fact he controlled the purse strings. That good feeling about him personally is potentially bedazzling the senators and leading them into handing over our state to Castle & Cooke and Corrections Corporation of America.
In Hawai’i it’s all about relationships. Will relationships cause the senators to abrogate their responsibility for insuring our agencies are in capable hands?