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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Conservative group calls for privatization of Iowa prisons

By Jason Hancock | 11.09.09 | 11:43 am

Iowa should privatize its prison system in order to alleviate budget problems, a conservative watchdog group said Monday.

Ed Failor Jr., president of Iowans for Tax Relief, said the privatization of Iowa’s prisons would result in many positive benefits, from making communities safer to minimizing inefficiencies. But the biggest benefit would be cost savings, he said.

“Iowa taxpayers would save tens of millions of dollars from the sale and operation of private prisons,” Failor said. “The current budget situation requires lawmakers to make real changes to state government, and selling the state prison system is part of the solution to moving Iowa forward.”

Failor points to Arizona, where lawmakers project privatizing prisons could save their state more than $100 million in the corrections budget, and calls on Iowa to consider a similar move.

“Today, there are over 9,000 inmates in Iowa prisons, and the average annual cost per prisoner is approximately $30,000,” Failor said. “Iowa taxpayers spend over $265 million on state prisons, and the average cost per prisoner increases each year.”

Privatizing state functions is an idea getting serious consideration around the country, as state’s grapple with an historic economic downturn that has decimated their budgets. In Iowa, Gov. Chet Culver recently announced a 10-percent cut to the state budget in order to overcome a more than $400 million deficit.

Not everyone is sold on the benefits of privatizing prisons.

A U.S. Department of Justice study found that the cost-savings promised by private prisons “have simply not materialized.”The study concluded that rather than the projected 20-percent savings, the average saving from privatization was only about 1 percent, and most of that was achieved through lower labor costs.

Opponents of privatization also express worry that the quest for higher profits will result in lower staff levels and training at private facilities and could lead to increases in incidences of violence and escapes.

A federal study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found Iowa ranked second-lowest nationally in per-capita spending on corrections. The state spent $121 per person, lower than every state but North Dakota, which spends $116 per person. The national average was $210.

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Comments

  • Kansan

    Leave it to radical conservatives to find a “solution” for a non-existent problem.

    Arizona has offered its prisons to for-profit operators. It has had no takers. It is better off because when the for-profits have run public prisons, such as the Tulsa county jail, they have left them in ruinous shape when their contracts were finally cancelled.

    Arizona commissioned a study a few years ago that discovered that it's for-profit prisons cost 8.5% to 13.5% more than public prisons.

    The for-profits pay terrible wages with next to no benefits, resulting in horrendous turnover, over 50% annually, industry-wide. These amateurs are the reason they have about 30 times as many escapes, per prisoner, as do public prisons.

    Radical Iowa “taxpayer” organizations, reflecting the desires of the richest residents of the state to escape their fiscal obligations, produce useless, non-peer reviewed research supporting privatization of core services at spin shops such as the Iowa Public Interest Institute. It's worthless and they know it, but it takes a sophisticated member of the electorate to realize the nature of the scam.

    Congratulations to the Independent for carrying an objective article that is not overwhelmed by the spin these tax resisters promulgate.

    • wasajailer

      The decision to place the Tulsa County Jail back in the hands of the sheriff was a political decision that has made no improvement in that jail's operation or cost efficiency. The sheriff merely uses funds from other line items to hide that inefficiency. He was attempting to garner support for his bid for the presidency of the American Correctional Association. The members of that group of corrections professionals saw through his fascade and denied his efforts. He may have skills in law enforcement but a jailer he will never be.

  • jrshipley

    A typically stupid idea from the right. This after Grassley's attempt to introduce prior constraints on the findings of the National Criminal Justice Commission:
    http://copssaylegalize.blogspot.com/2009/11/gra…

    We need an evidence-based approach to criminal justice, not a profit-based approach. We already lock up too many non-violent offenders in a drug war that's done nothing but make pot, cocaine, and meth easier for minors to acquire than beer and cigarettes. The last thing we need are lobbyists swarming the statehouse with ideas about how we can lock up more citizens so they can make more money.

  • wasajailer

    The decision to place the Tulsa County Jail back in the hands of the sheriff was a political decision that has made no improvement in that jail's operation or cost efficiency. The sheriff merely uses funds from other line items to hide that inefficiency. He was attempting to garner support for his bid for the presidency of the American Correctional Association. The members of that group of corrections professionals saw through his fascade and denied his efforts. He may have skills in law enforcement but a jailer he will never be.

  • Citizen Kane

    Kids for cash scandal
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal
    Just what we need, more profits for the plutocracy through the degradation of the population.
    I suppose Faux News never played the story or the video of the mother screaming at the judge who locked her son up for 90 days for an insignificant incident, after jail he committed suicide.
    We create these places, they will have to find a way to make a profit. And then how long until your voice is enough to get you in the door?

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