is handled by “bed brokers” like Bobby Ross, a private prison contractor, who has fielded calls from ten states interested in sending inmates to Texas. Ross estimates that Texas jails may have eight thousand jail beds available for lease, and he believes all of them can be used. Ross, a former Navarro County sheriff, helped broker the deal that brought Virginia inmates to Newton County. And Ross’ company, Austin-based BRG Inc., has a multi-million-dollar bet riding on the prison business. BRG is building a fivehundred-bed prison in Karnes County, which will be completed on January 13th. Right now, Ross doesn’t have any inmates to sleep in those beds. But he’s not worried. “It’s not exactly a ‘field-of-dreams’ jail,” Ross said. “It was a jail planned on existing needs.” The numbers support Ross’ contention. In 1982, one out of fifty-eight adults in Texas was on probation, parole, or in jail. By the year 2000, one of every twenty-one adult Texans will be in that situation. Thus, the current jail bed surplus won’t last long. In a report released in September, the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council estimated that by August of 1997, the state will need an additional twelve thousand, nine hundred prison beds. Until then, private prison operators like Ross and county sheriffs like Walker and Hoskins are stepping forward to take advantage of the national incarceration frenzy. The sheriffs, no longer dependent on state or local jurisdictions, are finding that their jail beds are a commodity that can be sold on the open market to the highest bidder. They have become virtually indistinguishable from privately-operated prisons, which are growing at an astounding thirty-five percent per year. With that kind of explosive growth, how long will it be before prison bedsor prisoners themselvesare traded on the futures market, just like pork bellies and sorghum? Hoskins and Walker have no doubts that they can keep their jails filled, and both have found that running their jails as forprofit ventures makes sense politically and economically. Hoskins is particularly bullish on his new business. “I don’t think the number of inmates is going to dwindle,” he said. He’s probably right. But there is something lamentable about Texas’ new status as the incarcerator of choice for states around the country. Certainly the “prison business” is creating jobs and bringing revenue to counties all over the state. But Texas’ two hundred thousand prison beds are also emblematicsymbols of a culture that has fundamentally failed. And all those prison beds are now a destination point not only for homegrown Texas failuresbut for the entire country’s. “Dialogue,” cont’d from p.2. were perpetrated by Freeport security personnel. They indicate clearly that these were acts carried out by Indonesian military police. But this hardly means that Freeport was “not involved.” If any of these violent abuses of human rights took place, as reported, on Freeport vehicles, in Freeport containers, at Freeport workshops, at Freeport security stations, in the presence of Freeport personnel, then Freeport surely was involved. For this the company must accept its measure of responsibility rather than hide behind a distorted headline in the state-controlled press. Steven Feld Santa Fe, New Mexico Hearts of Darkness You challenge “members of the university community” to respond to the Feld-Cunningham correspondence. You state that silence is acquiescence to the savagery Feld describes. Yet is anyone really surprised that university officials might be involved in this kind of activity? Has everyone forgotten even Viet Nam and the ’60s? You challenge as if acquiescence is not the well-established response of the university “community” to just about everything, no matter how bestial. But I think we know that it is. When considering the great problems of the day, how many reporters contact the managers of universities with the expectation of clear, forceful, unequivocal opinions? Do we really expect managers to lead \(or betconfrontation with politico-economic elites? The longish tenure of most managers suggests that service to elites and their predatory acts, not confrontation, is the norm. We are talking about managers here. Why would anyone think those who manage universities would have any more “soagement of tobacco or arms export companies? They exist to manage their institutions in accordance with the dictates of those who gave them their jobs, no matter how predatory they may be. Most of them do so eagerly. They exist to protect enhance them whenever possible. After all, they are managers and thus their “bottom line is not ethics but business…” ing to sacrifice privilege than any other manager? In short, as with their interchangeable kin in other corporations, they serve politico-economic elites and, therefore, themselves, protect and enhance their own incomes and “manage” those who have no need to be managed. It is hardly surprising that they have no appetite for confronting serious social problems seriously. Neither is it surprising that they and/or their institutions will make a profit from these problems, if possible. None of this means that managers cannot be good, caring, even charming persons at the individual level. Even the coal operators of old were probably generous on occasion. Neither is it to say that none escape the manager-for-profit mentality. Decades ago, a few did fight Joe McCarthy and his minions. It does mean that your construct, “Social Conscience vs. Corporate Predation” is no more relevant for university managers than it is for those of any other corporate entity. None of this is intended to suggest that faculty members are much, if any, better; indeed they are not. Most are proudly neutral in the struggles of justice vs. injustice. Of those who do indicate some commitment, most claim to be working “behind the scenes.” I would like a nickel for every one of them who claims to be working there, for wherever it is, it must be mighty crowded. If Feld is right, it is hardly surprising that Cunningham does what he does and justifies it. What is surprising is what Feld has done. Indeed, it is so surprising that it made your journal. You ask what we should do about “the continuing involvement of the University in crimes against humanity and nature.” Since such involvement mirrors that of both the U.S. Government and our transnational corporations, both rhetoric and reason would say, “Shut them down; shut them all down.” This is not likely to happen, of course. On the lowest level, it would be nice to know how all managers of state universities are “supplementing” their state pay. We might ask that the sources of that income be made public. One problem here is that state legislators would have to so order, but then we might demand to know who owns them. \(We might also move to restrict their total incomes to something like forty thousand dollars or less, certainly enough to live on. At least then we would know that they are probably in it for something more than the money. Since it would cost them less to resign “on principle” and return to the facThe problem we face is far more difficult than Feld vs. Cunningham. Late in life, Ghandi was asked what made him most sad and he answered that it was the hardness of the hearts of the well-educated. Kozol notes that while academics may appear different from the brutal and they are in “faithful service to the same unjust social order.” We may be disturbed 10 NOVEMBER 10, 1995
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