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As I wrote previously here and here, there has been great attention concentrated upon Nevada's use of inmate labor to unfairly compete against other Nevada companies.  As a result of this work, big changes have taken place in Nevada - and hopefully will continue next month...

I traveled out to Las Vegas at the end of January to interview owners of companies and in an attempt to discuss prison labor issues with the NV. DOC Director, his Deputy Director in charge of Prison Industries and the owner of Alpine Steel, Inc.  Owners of competing companies were quick to discuss the unfair advantage given to Alpine, but neither Alpine's owner, Randy Bulloch or either of the NDOC officials returned my calls or email requests to speak with them.

Unfortunately, this is typical in instances where those in support of exploiting prisoners have to speak to the merits of program policies involving using prisoner's labor for private companies. This time, their silence did not keep the Governor, Attorney General or Secretary of State for Nevada from voicing their opinions - most of which were surprisingly negative about the prison industry's operations, lack of effective oversight, failure to follow state regulations and statutes and the impact of those industries upon Nevada's small businesses and the unemployed.

In the articles linked to above, I wrote about the Wet 'N' Wild theme park and Sky Vue projects taking shape in Vegas.  Individuals with great reputations and well known to the public in America are investors in both of these - as well as other projects involving Alpine Steel.  When I called individuals out for investing in a theme park project that was using inmate labor, I was asked again and again "How do you know of the investors and the use of inmate labor was involved in these projects?  Each has denied to us that is the case...what was your sourcing for these claims?".  

The media who had read my Study and articles here on DK and at VLTP.net, tried unsuccessfully to get a response from investors such as Andre Agassi to confirm that prison labor was being used for these projects.  With strong denials from all involved, the journalists were skeptical of my sources.  Even so, I refused to divulge the names of those who I'd spoken to or provided documents to me that I relied on for the Study and my postings - as I had promised them anonymity.

Sky Vue Wheel
Wet 'n' Wild
Wet
Sky Vue from my hotel in Las Vegas - looking abandoned

As I was preparing to tape an interview (click on Feb 3 program to watch) for a local news station in Las Vegas on Friday the 1st, word came in that my information and sources had been correct.  Alpine's owner had just admitted to having the low bid on the Sky Vue Wheel project - as well as having already received the contract for the Wet 'N' Wild job.  With that admission came a disclaimer that there would be no prison labor involved in either of those construction projects.

Checking with Nevada authorities to verify this claim of no inmate labor being used, it was discovered that following the release of my "Study of Nevada's Prison Industries" on January 25th, a decision was made to close Alpine Steel's steel fabrication operation at Nevada's High Desert State Prison complex, disallowing further use of inmate labor by that company.  In addition authorities has gotten a payment plan agreed to by Alpine to repay the state more than $400,000 owed for facility leases and staff salaries.  Alpine was going to have to do what their competitors were doing - hire workers from the unemployed in Las Vegas to fabricate the steel for those two jobs!

When I returned from Las Vegas the minutes of the December Board of Prison Commissioner's meeting had been made public.  At that meeting, the NDOC Director appeared and admitted that he and his department had not been following the laws governing the use of inmate labor or when approving new products or industries.

Members of the Board of Prison Commissioners, are heroes in this battle over the use of inmate labor to disadvantage small business and the unemployed, as demonstrated by the positions taken and the strong pursuit of protecting Nevada's workers:

"Director Cox reported that he testified at the Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on Industrial Programs.4 There are three different mechanisms in place to provide oversight of NDOC Industrial Programs. First there is the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on Industrial Programs as discussed, second there is this Board of Prison Commissioners and third the Board of Examiners. Director Cox said we are reviewing our Administrative Regulations (AR’s). There is a reference to the Statutes that cover the oversight. After reviewing this at the last Committee meeting it appears that historically, we have never received approvals from the BOP.
We are preparing a draft of an AR.


"Governor Sandoval brought up the issue that inmate labor might be taking away jobs from citizens. DD Connett replied that if Alpine lost the bid that they would be in a position where they would have to lay off employees in their shop in Las Vegas. The Governor pointed out that we don’t want to subsidize private companies to the detriment of other local companies. DD Connett agreed. Regarding the current Alpine contract, he is working with the Attorney Generals office and they have created a repayment agreement with Alpine.

"Governor Sandoval confirmed that until recently Director Cox was not aware that businesses who want to contract with Silver State Industries need to come before the BOP Commissioners as well as the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on Industrial Programs. Director Cox will have an AR in place to assure that happens moving forward. DD Connett commented that since James Cox has become Director, no new Silver State Industries contracts have been approved. Director Cox said that the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on Industrial Programs is well represented with business and community leaders, labor, and elected officials from various parts of the state."


"Secretary of State Ross discussed NRS’s 209.549 & 209.461 subsection 2.,c. and asked Director Cox if in the past the processes listed within were followed properly. Director said that to his knowledge, they were not however moving forward he will have an AR, written in full compliance of the statutes in place. This will be completed before the next BOP meeting.


"Attorney General Masto requested a list of the current Prison Industries. DD Connett said he will provide it. She discussed the difference between existing and new prison industries and how they are handled. Additional discussion included her concerns as to the intent of the training of inmates within various industries and the affect on current local businesses. She asked if the intent of the industries is training inmates in a vocation so that they would be able to find work upon their release from prison and become a productive part of society therefore lowering their chance of recidivision. Or is a labor force being created (within the prisons) that existing private sector businesses can co-op to the benefit of their needs when they are engaging in an RFP process. She stated that this issue needs further and continued review.

"Director Cox assured that all of the issues brought up today would be further discussed at all three mechanisms in place that provide oversight of NDOC’s Prison Industries.

"Senator Brian discussed the ongoing competition with Alpine Steel that in his view is unfair to other competitors in regards to the labor costs and outstanding indebtedness. Attorney General Masto recommended reviewing current contracts for existing programs. Governor Sandoval said this issue will be examined before, and addressed during, the next BOP meeting."

So it appears even if Director Cox and Deputy Director Connett would not speak with me or acknowledge any of the claims I made in the Study, top officials in Nevada did in fact get "the memo" and decided to take quick and appropriate actions to stop the blatant and deliberate unfair advantages taken by Alpine Steel and other companies having access to the state's prisoner work force.

It isn't simply the failure to notify competing businesses and labor about prison industries or new products, it's the refusal to pay inmate workers the required prevailing wage rate, oversight provided by the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA) - and fact that Deputy Director Connett is now the Chairman of the Board of the NCIA - that needs addressing.  It is the underlying fact that legislation in each state to allow access to this inmate workforce was written by and lobbied for by the pro-corporate American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Corporations seeking low wages to increase profits have sought a cheap "American" work force for years.  Through ALEC and the NCIA they have found that labor force here at home.  They will continue to exploit these men and women as long as we continue to look away, refusing to acknowledge that labor is a primary reason for so many American's being in prison today.  This well oiled and quickly growing industry needs new workers for those released from incarceration and as laborers for new factories being built every year and partnered with private companies.

Inmate drilling a steel column in prison shop for Alpine Steel job
Some would consider what happened in Nevada a small victory perhaps, in a larger battle involving the use of inmate labor.  I consider it a huge victory to: inmate workers; competing companies, and; the unemployed all across the U.S.  The effort of lowering costs to private companies with the result of taking jobs away from unemployed non-inmate workers in the community, was just handed an upset at the hands of a conscientiousness state Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State - looking to protect small businesses and Nevada's workers.  Today there are 1,022 factories in the U.S. prison industrial system...and that represents 1,022 private factories that have closed down and laid off hundreds of thousands of workers.  In Nevada there is now one less factory competing for jobs and profits at the expense of competitors and the unemployed.  That represents one of the few wins on behalf of American jobs.

To give you an idea of the extent of the work being done by Alpine using inmate labor to fabricate the structural steel components - in addition to the theme park and Sky Vue jobs, Alpine currently has several ongoing or just completed jobs that they won through their ability to underbid competitors due to low labor costs:

Desert Inn Mental Hospital project
Fifth Street Bridge over the Interstate

Planet Mazda, Car Dealership

Many of those I spoke with stated they've lost as many as "four or five contracts a year to Alpine" due to the low wage costs.  Each of those lost projects to competing companies represents a half dozen to dozen jobs that could have been filled by unemployed steel and fabrication workers in Las Vegas.  So, the impact is anything but "insignificant" as prohibited by Nevada's statutes on prison industry operations.

Jacob's Trading Company is also using inmate labor in Nevada to repackage refurbished or returned items to retailers such as Wal-Mart - and of course paying the inmate workers less than the wages paid for similar work in the community

Another company, TJ Wholesale is operating out of the prison industries there in Nevada at the same prison as Alpine.  They pay inmates "by the piece" for sorting, punching and repackaging used Casino cards to sell retail to tourists. At their website, this company advertises:

Business Services

"I would like to take this opportunity to formally introduce you to our company; TJ Wholesale is an established company of 27 years with many patented and trademarked products. The new owners have been in the manufacturing/distribution business for the past 30 years. We have manufactured both in the US and abroad to meet our customer’s needs.

"Our connections in China, Taiwan and other Pacific Rim countries are superb.

"We all have traveled throughout the years and created beneficial relationships that will make a wide variety of projects possible. We are looking forward to developing our relationship with your unique company and hope you will think of us on your next project. We are confident that we can meet and exceed your most demanding goals and cost requirements.

"Our unique relationship with a 700 man workforce in Nevada spans 20 years, with a wide and diverse set of industries, some of which include but not limited to:

Card Sorting
Cut & Sew
Printing, Bookbindery, Silk Screening
Embroidery
Draperies
Carroll Shelby Custom Auto Fabrication
Dairy & Ranch Operations (700+ wild mustangs)

Office Furniture
CAD & Metal Fabrication
Auto Paint & Body Work
Auto Re-Upholstery
Custom "Big House" Motercycles (sic)
Truss Manufacturing
Flat & Embossed License Technology
Institutional & Residential Mattresses

"Through our working relationships with our partners, we believe we have the capabilities to fulfill a vast amount of working processes and provide a large array of products. We have access to almost an unlimited workforce with flexible work schedules who are trained and skilled to meet all of our customers’ needs.

"We invite you to explore all the possibilities and opportunities that can benefit both our companies by working together.
Sincerely,

Ronald K. Steiner
VP/Sales
Diamond Mountain Distributors, LLC
Dba TJ Wholesale

This local company was formed 4 years ago and is owned by Diamond Mountain Distributors, owned by the same individual.  Today they hold a new trademark, "Just Vegas" under which they are selling T-shirts and other clothing products.  Are these made with prison labor at Nevada's "cut and sew" industry?  I don't know, but from the look of TJ Wholesale's website, it appears they are operating as a broker or surogate for the prison industry operation, hoping to attract customers for the other products or services offered by Silver State Industries.

Again, this is why prison industry operations are like a huge, rotting onion.  Once you begin to peel back the layers, more and more information is discovered that shows how community jobs are being transferred from workers to inmates.  The entire industry is designed to lower the wages of non-inmate workers while providing companies access to a very cheap and captive workforce.  Nevada represents just the tiniest of glimpses into this secretive operation of providing corporations with cheap labor...labor with no voice, prohibited by law from organizing unions, collective bargaining or requiring annual raises, medical insurance or unemployment insurance premiums.  Once complaints against Alpine Steel were voiced and a Governor with a conscience looked at the situation, all the other industries, products being made and manipulations being made by Silver State Industry's Deputy Director came into focus.  He and others in authority now want to know whether these programs are really for "training" or as AG Masto asked,

"[I]s a labor force being created (within the prisons) that existing private sector businesses can co-op to the benefit of their needs when they are engaging in an RFP process?"
Today China's cheap labor is not the threat to American jobs - it is the prison industries across the state or down the street.

In one conversation I had in Vegas, a business owner told me that he has to consider the labor rates paid by Alpine to inmate workers when he considers raises to his employees.  Knowing that Alpine is out there paying minimum wage for the same work his company pays wages of between $17.00 and $20.00 per hour for, this business owner fears he could price himself out of bid contention due to the disparity in labor costs.  Currently this company is already losing a half dozen jobs a year to Alpine - due to labor estimates.

In order to compete with Alpine, he would have to reduce wages or the number of workers in order to keep his estimates comparable to Alpine's.  Since none of his workers would be willing to perform skilled work for minimum wage - like inmates working for Alpine - he continues to lose contracts to Alpine.  This story was repeated again and again there in Nevada, and not just by owners of steel businesses, but others involving industries competed against by Silver State's prisoner work force making other products.

So - while what happened in Vegas earlier this month was a victory for Nevadans - there is still a lot of work to be done.  More skirmishes to increase inmate wages to what is required under the law; insistence that all union and labor groups be consulted prior to opening new industries or starting new product lines and; consultation with competing companies who may be affected by competition from prison industry operations.

Realizing that today over 40 states and county jail industry operations are participating in this program making inmate labor available to private companies, one begins to understand the depth of this competition working against small businesses in the U.S.  When UNICOR is added to the state industries, we find that in the more than 1,000 factories competing for business collectively, there are an estimated 600,000 to 1 million inmates working in some type of prison industry.  In any terms that's one hell of a lot of jobs!  Considering that we have millions out of work, prison industry jobs represent a significant number of jobs removed from our non-inmate labor markets.

So it is the combination of jobs lost to inmates added to the contracts lost to private sector companies due to the low wages that together represent a hidden and unrealized impact upon business expansions and the hiring of new workers due to those expansions.  Both employment and growth are depressed in private sectors due to the continuing growth of prison industrial "training" programs.

Again due to the number of states involved, each operating multiple and diverse industries, employment and expansion in the private sectors is curtailed in all competing industries.  Even in those cases where a private company can compete, the labor and wage disparities prevent raises and cost of living adjustments, because neither exist within the prison industrial complex.

As I also reported in my last diary, here Congress just gave the go ahead to UNICOR to begin allowing private companies access to federal prison labor and facilities under the PIE program.  This is going to substantially increase both the number of prison workers and factory facilities available to corporations.  In addition Congress saw fit to approve a repatriation program whereby U.S. companies can bring American jobs back to the U.S....where products made are not being made in the U.S. now.  This repatriation program allows UNICOR to put men and women prisoners to work making those products for private manufacturers in prison factories, earning between $.23 and $1.15 per hour worked.  So the jobs coming back...will be going to prisoners.  This is intended to be the "new face" of American manufacturing in the 21st century.

While our President continues to urge passage of his "Jobs Bill" Act...the GOP supported by the likes of ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce, continue to oppose that legislation vigorously - in favor of providing their corporate benefactors with slave labor instead.  Why hire our unemployed at fair wages, provide them with medical and health insurance, unemployment benefits, paid vacations and paid time off...when a prisoner will do the same work for pennies on the dollar, and by can't complain or seek higher wages?  It literally is a "win-win" for companies involved in industry and services.

Now when a friend or family member asks "where have all the manufacturing jobs gone?" you can answer that question factually and in so doing, help awaken more Americans to this hidden theft of our jobs.

Originally posted to Bob Sloan on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 02:39 PM PST.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Headwaters.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for all your hard work on this, (5+ / 0-)

    and for keeping us informed.

    If "elitist" just means "not the dumbest motherfucker in the room", I'll be an elitist! - David Rees from "Get Your War On". //"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." - Denis Diderot

    by Oaktown Girl on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 02:55:23 PM PST

  •  Thank you for connecting so many dots (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos, FarWestGirl, kurt

    I have been trying to follow, understand and learn more about this rotten, stinking mess, and your Diary is just outstanding.

    One entry point for me has been the school-to-prison pipeline, truly chilling. School kids  not even in high school yet being taken away in cuffs, via police cars, for minor dress code violations and the like. finally getting some attention!

    I have not had the time to check all your links yet, but do you have more info on the ALEC connections? I'm preparing a segment on this for a public affairs radio program I host. I'd also be interested in having you on the program if you are interested. (Boston area)

    Thanks for the good work!

    Shooting wolves from planes is to hunting, what hiring a prostitute is to dating.-Shannyn Moore

    by zzyzx on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 03:24:05 PM PST

    •  Thanks for your interest and knowledge (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, kurt

      of at least part of this prison industrial system.

      Here is a linkto ALEC's 1995 "Prison Industries Act" model legislation that has been used state by state to authorize this program - and then modified, amended and bastardized until it now operates totally to provide massive profits to prison industries and the companies with access to that labor.

      ALEC's one time Chair of the Criminal Justice (public safety) Task Force, Rep. Ray Allen (R-TX) first introduced this in Texas in 1993-94 and once passed he took it to ALEC and it spread from there - in similar form and fashion as the Florida "stand your ground" legislation and AZ.'s SB1070 immigration legislation did.

      If you would like to have me on the show, I have no problem with that, but it would have to be via Skype if you have that capability.  I'm in Indianapolis and could not possibly make Boston - though I like the town and folks up that way.

      The school to prison pipeline is hard at work - again through the efforts of ALEC to privatize public education and replace accredited teachers with non-accredited staffers from think tanks such as Heritage and Heartland.  Students today are more or less on their own regarding education and behavior.  Too many incidents as you describe of our youth's being hauled off by police for teen pranks we used to get a whipping for.  One reason why Corrections Corp of America and Geo Group (former ALEC members) are investing in juvenile detention facilities today.  And BTW, prison privatization is also an ALEC model bill and pursuit.

      "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled" http://piecp-violations.com/

      by Bob Sloan on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 04:40:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very nicely done. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos, FarWestGirl, kurt

    Nice to see some real journalism on a complicated issue.

    •  Thanks for the compliment! Been researching (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, kurt

      and writing about this program at the state and federal level for over a decade now, and it finally came into use by those with the authority to understand and make necessary changes.  Hopefully other states will take notice and follow suit...all but Florida, and they're simply screwed with Scott and PRIDE in power.

      "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled" http://piecp-violations.com/

      by Bob Sloan on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 04:42:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's the meaning of "free enterprise"-- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old wobbly, Bob Sloan, Kevskos

    take free goods or services to market for a profit. U.S. enterprise has always been suckled at the public teat, either in terms of free natural resources or a recruited labor supply that was kept in place through coercive measures.
    Remember that even after the demise of involuntary servitude, liberal immigration policies brought in a steady stream of young people whose rearing and training in trades was provided by their home countries. There was good reason not to promote universal public education beyond instilling the "basics" along with preparation for good citizenship and proper work habits.
    Indeed, even today we are filling up our state universities with students from abroad. They get trained in technical fields and then are provided special visas to meet our employment needs. Their first eighteen years of life were paid for somewhere else. If the U.S. can get these educated, obviously healthy young people for free, there is no incentive to provide U.S. families assistance with rearing children.
    If prisoners can be trained, is that not evidence that their prior education failed?
    Does anybody care? No. Because the impetus to get labor for free is so strong. It's as if there is still a need to prove that exacting labor from human beings is not wrong.
    It is good to make man work.  Was he not sentenced to hard labor by the Creator? Who's going to fulfill that dictum if not our virtuous disciplinarians?
    Everybody's on a mission -- sent out to subdue and convert the heathens.
    "We fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here," but, since that didn't work out so well in the Middle East, we'll just have to fight them here.  Who are "them"?  The people who need to be made compliant.

    The thing about the cons' agenda is that it is entirely consistent and invariable. There is just one commandment. Obedience.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 03:46:04 PM PST

  •  Tipped, rec'd & hotlisted, as always. Thanks, Bob. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Sloan

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
    ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

    by FarWestGirl on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 06:51:47 PM PST

    •  Thanks FarWestGirl! Glad to see your continued (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl

      participation in the discussion on this topic.  It's come a long way over the past couple of years and finally getting the attention it needs.

      "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled" http://piecp-violations.com/

      by Bob Sloan on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 08:00:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Long row yet to hoe, but thank you for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oldpotsmuggler

        slogging onward, regardless. :-)

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
        ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

        by FarWestGirl on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 08:09:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  :) gotta' do what my conscience says is the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FarWestGirl, oldpotsmuggler

          right thing...too damn old to back off now, anyway.

          Yes a long row...but if it isn't stopped the only jobs left will be behind prison fences.

          "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled" http://piecp-violations.com/

          by Bob Sloan on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 09:37:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yup. This is what Jefferson was actually talking (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            oldpotsmuggler

            about when he said that liberty requires vigilance, this work. We need to vote, do jury duty and watch the watchers. Keep chipping away at it, I'll do the same, maybe we can gather enough people and fill enough sandbags to reinforce the levees.::sigh::

            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
            ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

            by FarWestGirl on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 09:44:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm game! and you're right about Jefferson... (3+ / 0-)

              ...and all this "Free-Market" and "trickle down" they've been pushing for years.  They have found a way to squeeze every last cent from the middle class, forcing it to the top and virtually none is coming back down.  This exploiting of prisoner's labor to increase profits has not resulted in one red cent flowing downward...instead more to invest and reap the interest off of.

              With this prison industry program, they even found out how to rape the taxpayers by diverting room and board expenses taken from inmates, back to the industry and their partners to use to defray their costs.

              Sad fact that our AG, Holder is in support of expanding more federal prison industries and locking up more Americans to feed the maw of that huge wholly owned corporation known as UNICOR.

              Hoping we can use the outcome in Nevada to focus attention and the findings and actions taken there upon other states.  I've been beseeching Congress for 19 years to hold hearings on the Pie Program and UNICOR to try and alleviate the jobs problem.  No answer, responses or returned calls...only beg letters for contributions to their campaigns.

              "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled" http://piecp-violations.com/

              by Bob Sloan on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 10:06:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes !!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, Bob Sloan, oldpotsmuggler

    It's a huge win, alright.

    Treat yourself to an ice cream (as my 85 yo mother-in-law is fond of saying).

    Now get back to work.

    I'm so glad to see such spectacular results from all your hard work and dedication, I'm a little giddy right now.

    It's obvious to me that releasing your Study was a knockout punch. The timing was superb. The December BOP Commissioner meeting echoed many of the issues exposed in your Study. That's gotta feel good. Go ahead. Treat yourself to another ice cream.

    I haven't read through everything yet, but a few things caught my eye, some important, some not so much.

    There's no doubt that when a previous two-term Governor and two-term US Senator, Dick Bryan (D-NV), shows up to a BOP meeting, it's a very big deal. Although he spoke on behalf of his client, Excel Steel, and only addressed "item 8 on the agenda", his words where he "Respectfully suggests that more oversight over PI is required" were effective.

    They knew they had to come clean. Director Cox and his group are, indeed, the heroes of this win. All except for Brian Connett who seems to be a serial self-serving scammer of the Prison Industrial Complex. Send him packing, as you say.

    I'm hoping for an avalanche of other states seeing the scam for what it is. Yeah, I know. I'm a dreamer.

    Andre Agassi? Really? Interesting name-drop.

    In a few minutes on the Google machine, I see that he's been promoting and lobbying for what seems to be  ALEC-inspired legislation in support of charter schools and the wrongly-named school reform movement. There were some NV state bills he followed back in 2009, but that seems to have tapered off. Or he stopped bragging about his lobbying activities. This would have been helpful for the private charter school he founded in NV. Not saying his is good or bad, but it follows that he is a likely investor in other self-enriching right leaning endeavors.

    Hang in there, Bob. Damn fine work you're doing.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:18:05 AM PST

    •  Thanks GOG! Just staying at them in an effort (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GrumpyOldGeek, oldpotsmuggler

      of transparency.  In speaking with members of the interim finance committee on prison industrial programs, I found that they had no idea what the actual laws were - PIECP or Nevada statutes - governing prison industry operations.

      One member (a long time Teamster) did not know what PIE program was, and had no inkling that his committee was the one to choose up to three candidates to fill the seat of Deputy Director of Prison Industries when it became vacant.  They had been allowing the sitting NDOC Director to make those picks.  This is how a corrupt Howard Skolnik was able to insert Connett into the position before Skolnik retired rather than face indictments.  This allowed the corruption to go undetected and continue unabated.

      The Dec. BOP meeting was contentious, with an angry Governor, AG and Sec of State tearing into Cox and Connett.  The minutes reveals only a small amount of that anger and consternation exhibited by the higher state authorities.

      Two new industry changes are being considered: recycling industry and one that expands the prison industry at the women's unit in N. Las Vegas.  The women work for Jacob's Trading and JTC has threatened to cut back unless the state agrees to expand the facility so they can work the women on 3 shifts.  The other is a recycling industry to use inmates to recycle the state's abundance of trash.  This proposal is from a CA. company wanting to take over trash removal and recycling for the entire state of Nevada.  Because of the intense scrutiny now falling upon the prison industries, both have been put on hold and will only advance with the Governor's approval.

      So yes, a larger than expected win for us.  I have presented the Governor with an option regarding the Administrative Regulations (AR's) Cox and Connett are to recommend next month...my suggestion is for Nevada to fully adopt the federal PIECP mandatory requirements as state law.  They are already in place, NV. is a PIECP certificate holder and adopting those regs and enforcing them would bring compliance as well as the ability to fully regulate the prison industries using established regulations that would benefit the state as well as the unemployed and competing businesses.

      Am returning next month to make that recommendation to the BoPC members.  Will write a diary on how that goes.

      "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled" http://piecp-violations.com/

      by Bob Sloan on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 07:46:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Contentious? Who could have known? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob Sloan, oldpotsmuggler

        I can only imagine. "We're not in compliance with the law, Guv". Saying that in a public meeting is astonishing.

        For us, ignorance of the law is no excuse. For government employees, not so much, apparently. It's a sad situation when so many have no clue about their own duties of governance. But they've got a fox in the henhouse situation with Connett, so there's that.

        "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 03:47:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Amazing, just amazing. I've lived every word (0+ / 0-)

    you're writing, and you're not only the only person I've ever seen try to take this on, but someone who I would back in this 100%.

    Your work is important, it's beyond factual, and, sadly, it's absolutely one of a kind.

    Please, please continue.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 08:24:11 PM PST

    •  No worries OPS...have no plans to discontinue (0+ / 0-)

      this activism.  Going back next month to meet directly with them all in NV.  Dir. Cos and DD Connett refuse to respond to calls, emails or requests for and interview.  No word from the Gov, AG or SOS either...but things continue to happen behind the scenes without attributing their actions to my report or pressure.  But that's typical.

      Here's what just occurred related to this saga: http://www.nvcontractorsboard.com/... the very first case.  They reduced Alpine's limit from unlimited to $1.7 limit on projects they can bid on...the rest shows how angry they are...

      "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled" http://piecp-violations.com/

      by Bob Sloan on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 10:46:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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