Former sheriff candidate Patiño featured in Dan Rather prison industry report
Press release on the show, which airs tonight:
HDNET’S “DAN RATHER REPORTS” INVESTIGATES THE BILLION DOLLAR PRISON PROSPECTING INDUSTRY
“Bed of Controversy” investigates the business of incarcerating for cash, Tuesday, June 16 at 8:00 p.m. ET
DALLAS (June 15, 2009) – HDNet’s “Dan Rather Reports” presents a unique look at how your tax dollars are fueling the “recession proof,” billion-dollar prison prospecting business. The episode reports on a federal agency charged with managing a detention system that this year alone will cost taxpayers $3.1 billion, a price tag that has doubled since 2003.
The federal government has more than 90,000 people in custody on an average night, and only 25,000 beds to put them in. So the U.S. Marshals, along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been outsourcing more than 65,000 detainees to a far-flung network of more than 1,800 state, local and private contract prison facilities. The Marshals Service itself has custody of tens of thousands of prisoners, but does not own nor operate a single detention facility.
The number of Federal detainees has sky rocketed in recent years – more than 2000 percent since 1981 – and with the increasingly severe shortage of federal beds, enterprising local governments and private prison companies have been happy to fill in the gap — for a price. But it’s the taxpayers who are ultimately footing the bill.
So, every morning, the routine begins. U.S. Marshals monitor the crush of inmates lining up for the vans that will take them to their court hearings. These vans will then have to take them back to a jail cell for the night and, more often than not, that cell will be at a county or city jail renting beds to U.S. Marshals with funds from the U.S. Government. It is a nation-wide, billion-dollar game of musical beds.
A retired supervisor with the U.S. Marshals Service, Al Patiño remembers shuffling inmates to and from Hawaii where thousands of dollars were spent to fly prisoners on regular commercial flights. Even after Hawaii, when Patiño was serving in El Paso, TX, the cost of housing and transporting prisoners was staggering. “I remember specifically signing checks between two, two and a half to three million on a monthly basis for that county,” Patiño said.
While the government is looking into questions about the increase in detention costs and how to decrease this taxpayer burden, the new government office in the Justice Department that was created to manage this massive system got derailed when immigration detention was moved into the Department of Homeland Security.
“Dan Rather Reports: Bed of Controversy” premieres on HDNet, Tuesday, June 16 at 8:00 p.m. ET with an encore presentation at 11:00 p.m. ET to accommodate West Coast Prime Time.