Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Monday, December 5, 2011

Corrections Corporation of America Lobbyists in Alabama

Tobin "Toby" Bernard Roth & John W. Hagood of Capital Resources, LLC

*Updated 6/12/2012  -  Alabama Judge Says Enough With the Debtor's Prison  Roth & Hagood may not have managed to create a CCA prison in Alabama, but as the linked article illustrates, they've been doing a lot of damage in a short span of time. A record check of Judicial Correction Services in the Alabama SOS database shows the entity address as the Capital Resources, LLC Alabama office of Roth & Hagood.

"Correctional officials see danger in prison overcrowding. Others see opportunity. The nearly two million Americans behind bars—the majority of them nonviolent offenders—mean jobs for depressed regions and windfalls for profiteers." --Eric Schlosser The Atlantic

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has been slithering in and out of Alabama to  some degree since *the late 1990's when Hal W. Bloom, Jr. (The Bloom Group) lobbied briefly for the corporation. Fine & Geddie were next in 2006. In 2011, new players Roth & Hagood are entering the 'incarcerate for profit' game-- CCA is back, and possibly positioning themselves to profit from the "meanest immigration law in the country."

Who else in state political power will benefit if CCA becomes Alabama's next nightmare reality? Someone always does. Alabama didn't become one of the most politically corrupt states in the nation by chance-- it's an honor among elected thieves that they strive to excel at dishonor, every chance they get.

Will Alabama eventually go the way of Arizona and allow CCA to reap windfall profits from HB 56?

What happened in Arizona, in the run up to their anti-immigration law, SB 1070, gives us a glimpse into the intertwining of the Prison-Industrial Complex, the agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the undue influence both held over Arizona's elected officials in adopting the stern immigration legislation. The same law that cost long-time AZ Senator Russell Pearce his seat in a recent recall election largely fueled by citizen outrage over SB 1070. NPR reports:
It was last December at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. Inside, there was a meeting of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. Insiders call it ALEC.
It was there that Pearce's idea took shape.
Pearce and the Corrections Corporation of America have been coming to these meetings for years. Both have seats on one of several of ALEC's boards.

And this bill was an important one for the company. According to Corrections Corporation of America reports reviewed by NPR, executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market. Last year, they wrote that they expect to bring in "a significant portion of our revenues" from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that detains illegal immigrants.
Once Pearce's bill landed on the AZ House floor sponsors jumped on and the money started to flow from CCA:
Thirty of the 36 co-sponsors received donations over the next six months, from prison lobbyists or prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America, Management and Training Corporation and The Geo Group.
Elected officials rattle on incessantly about the dangers of prison overcrowding and how "we must deal with this pressing issue" in our states, but their true motives are simpler and more devious: it's all about the money and what CCA is willing to pay to gain access to a steady flow of prisoners.

In 2003, CCA paid the State of Alabama $25,000 benefiting a PAC for former Governor Riley's 2003 Alabama Excellence Initiative Fund aka "The Riley Plan" which voters defeated by a wide margin. What was going on in Alabama in 2003, coupled with Bob Riley approving a flurry of prisoner transfers to CCA facilities in other states, gives us a hint of the power of CCA's monetary persuasion. Via AP 6/26/03:
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama will transfer about 1,400 male inmates to a private prison in Mississippi to help address the state's overcrowded prison system.
Gov. Bob Riley and the Alabama Department of Corrections have authorized an emergency contract with Corrections Corporation of America to send the inmates to CCA's Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss., CCA said in a statement issued Thursday.
The contract with the medium-security facility will be on a short-term basis while the state develops a plan for the future, the statement said.
The state is trying to comply with two court orders to end overcrowding -- one calling for removal of state prisoners from county jails and another ordering the state to reduce the number of inmates at Tutwiler Prison for women in Wetumpka.
The state has already sent 300 women prisoners to a private lockup in Louisiana to alleviate overcrowding at Tutwiler. 
Alabama has always had issues with prison overcrowding. Those long-standing problems will only worsen with the recent state budget cuts directly impacting the state's woefully inadequate judicial system. Admittedly, there is a real dilemma with outdated facilities that are overloaded, understaffed and not serving anyone any good--staff, inmate or taxpayers.

The same taxpayers that always carry the load of Alabama's poor political decisions, have also paid dearly for Alabama's attitude of 'incarcerate, not rehabilitate' for decades, and it appears the Alabama legislature is content to lumber down that same ineffective path for some time to come.

Or is it?

With the presence of notorious GOP operative Toby Roth, and the former head of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) John Hagood, now on the CCA payroll, there may be a change coming. There's an oddity in Hagood that reminds us of the strange circumstance of former Alabama Department of Corrections (ALDOC) Deputy Commissioner Vernon Barnett. Mr. Barnett was a Riley appointee in the ALDOC.

Barnett moved quickly from an all-but-done-deal position as the successor to outgoing ALDOC Commissioner Richard Allen, into another position as an ADEM lawyer. He figured prominently in former state legislator Greg Canfield's coal ash bill that moved at lightning speed into law. A majority of Alabama Power Company's 26 state lobbyists were hard pushers for the wrong-headed legislation. (Canfield is now enjoying a plum role as the head of Alabama's quasi-governmental economic development agency.)

It seems ridiculous that a background in corrections translates to a job in environmental management, and vice versa.The two careers seem as far removed from each other as ethics in Alabama politicians, but here once again, is a connecting path between the two departments with Hagood in the employ of CCA.

Roth, on the other hand, is a very savvy political animal with on-high powerful connections. He's not going to waste his time on anything that doesn't have big money and bigger power attached to it for him to glorify himself. His mere presence with CCA is very unsettling and indicates a high probability that something big is in the works behind the curtain, out of public view.

Hagood, Roth and Barnett all have one thing in common: deep connections to Bob Riley. Mr. Riley stunned everyone by suddenly announcing his 'new job' and beating a rapid departure to DC to become a lobbyist earlier this year. He's well-positioned to aid Roth & Hagood on the federal level in their CCA endeavors with Alabama's representatives in Congress, especially the two powerful federal purse-string pullers, Spencer Bachus and Richard Shelby. (No relation to the author.)

Alabama tried this private prison idea before in Perry County with bad results. Less than a year into the contract, Alabama had to buy the facility back from the LCS Corporation and wasted $60 million dollars in the process. The state seems poised to take another bite at the private prison poison apple, and this time they couldn't have picked a more unsavory corporate character than CCA. 

If Alabama's anti-immigration law stands the test of an expected SCOTUS challenge, violators of the law will have to be housed somewhere. We don't believe it's a series of chance coincidences that so many moving parts, with connections to other states actions, don't have the same kinds of connections in Alabama.

Here's what we do know about Alabama that gives us pause:
  • HB 56 is a bill rooted in ALEC agenda--the state legislature imposed their own draconian ideas into the final legislation creating the "meanest" immigration law in the country
  • ALEC has made strong inroads into Alabama in the last decade
  • The (Koch funded think tank) Alabama Policy Institute is firmly on-board with prison privatization
  • Senator Jabo Waggoner, an ALEC member, is in place as the chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee in the legislature 
Proponents of prison privatization always make the same case based on false positives: "saving thinly-stretched state budgets money," "removing a burden from the state," etc. As with other states that have bought what CCA peddles, reality eventually settles in, and the numbers game just doesn't add up for anyone involved except CCA's bottom line and a few well-lined political pockets.

*Update: Osborne Ink upload Senator Arthur Orr's SB63 bill for 2012 Alabama session
              (Rep Jim McClendon has two bills HB30 & HB36 that mirror ALEC's)
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  1. What the hell is going on in this state since the republicans took over? If their intention is to create a police state it IS starting to look like we're more than a lot there.

    Corrections Corporation of America corrupts politicians left and right with it's blood money from human misery. It only takes a few minutes to Google them and find numerous examples of what's going at most of their facilities in America for a glimpse into the horror of the private prison industrial complex.


  2. Toby Roth is a snake.
    If he's involved in anything odds are it's real shady and a GOP machine scheme.
    Two words: Don Siegelman.
    No, wait..two more: Karl Rove.

  3. If the Goat Hill cabal had its way all democrats and their voters would find themselves running afoul of some imagined law and a guests at one of CCA's resorts.
    This just makes me ill to know Max...so much for breakfast.

  4. Once again it takes the watchful eyes of bloggers to inform the public of an important issue the state press is completely asleep on.

    Great work by the team and well worth the wait for another article.

  5. This has to be a Riley era scheme. It's got his fingerprints all over it.

  6. Maybe this is part of the "handshake with Alabama" job creation plan. DNC Chair Wasserman is pulling the same garbage in Florida.

    "Jobs, jobs, jobs"

    No consideration for corruption as long as it pays and egregious human rights violations by the criminal CCA enterprise.

    Riley and AG Strange shut down 0ver 300 jobs in Greene County by closing Greentrack. Is this the next job creator for the Black Belt?

    I can't imagine any new prisons will be built anywhere but on top of minorities and economically disadvantaged communities.

    My opinion is the state house would be an ideal location. Qualified inmates already in place.

  7. Osbourne Ink reports on a bill pre-filed by Senator Arthur Orr, SB63, that will:

    specifically authorize the Department of Corrections to contract or enter into agreements with private industry to establish work-oriented rehabilitation programs within facilities located on property owned or operated by the Department of Corrections or any prison facility housing inmates sentenced to the department.

  8. This is so scary!!!
    Wondering how long it will take for the press to begin some inquiry into this?

  9. From what I've overheard through the political and legal grapevine this morning the Confidential has delivered a big whack to a hornet's nest.

  10. To all Alabama legislators:

    We DID NOT give you a blanket mandate to do whatever you choose without ANY accountability. A vote is a choice at a particular point in time on any given candidate.


    So far you've managed to try and lock the public out of the state house, no thanks to Speaker Hubbard and Senator Marsh, been caught red-handed violating your own Ethics Laws, put Alabama's education system in proration AGAIN, failed to repeal the pay increase that every one of you used as a campaign weapon, failed to repeal the grocery tax, hand out millions of our hard-earned tax dollars to businesses as if there's a printing press in the state house basement, and generally behaved like spoiled children who put their own interests above Alabamians.


    People are waking up to ALEC and they don't like what they see. Why are Alabama republicans a part of such a secretive organization? You all promised transparency and from my pov you have delivered anything but transparency!

    As a conservative independent voter I'm disgusted with each and every one of you and DO NOT expect my support in the future!

    Pissed off in Pinson

  11. Great piece. Stay on it. Toby Roth served Riley as chief of staff. Roth went to work at a Mississippi-based lobbying firm named Capitol Resources. Among the firm’s principal clients were the casinos owned by the Mississippi Choctaw Indians, whom they represented jointly with Jack Abramoff.

  12. We should demand that any elected official in the state of Alabama explain their reasons for being a member of ALEC.

    I echo Pinson's thoughts to a tee. Enough of these back room dealings and shadow dancing by our elected leaders.

  13. *Shakes head* while muttering "dirty rotten scoundrels..."

  14. Alabama politicians are incapable of any original thought. Instead they turn to ALEC and other special interests to write bills, and then pass the damn things without even reading them! I.E. HB56.

    We could pay a bunch of 5th graders to take their place and probably come out much better for it.

    FCFR watching just got a whole lot more interesting.

  15. Take a good look at these two lobbyists. Would you buy a used car from either of them? Okay, maybe you would because they do have that used car look.

  16. It simply amazes me.... the sheer stupidity of our lawmakers to think that they can operate in a vacuum without showing the world how ignorant and racist they really are.

    When they get called on it the usual knee-jerk response is to dismiss it as "liberal media" complaints who "don't understand our ways in Alabama."

    The archaic mindset is pure 19th century.

    Now they're going to harken back to the days of slavery and allow Corrections Corporation of America to be the new suppliers of human labor.

    It hurts my heart to call myself a citizen of this state.


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