Why CoreCivic works for New Mexico’s corrections needs

November 27, 2018

When CoreCivic was founded more than 30 years ago, the court system had intervened in prisons in 41 states and the District of Columbia because of their poor conditions. Eight corrections systems had been declared unconstitutional or were operating under court order. This means that those facilities were dangerously overcrowded or failed to meet minimum standards for safe and humane conditions.

From that point on, our company has played a critical role for systems that are overcrowded or aging, and we have successfully partnered with federal, state and local government entities, including the state of New Mexico, to creatively and efficiently meet their challenges in ways they could not do alone.

Critics of our company are often misinformed about the work we do. For example, in 2014, we made commitments to strengthen re-entry programming unprecedented for the public or private sector. Those goals, updated in 2017, include graduating more than 8,000 inmates with high school-education equivalency by the end of 2019; providing addiction treatment at no less than a 75 percent completion rate over the next five years; and quadrupling access to victim impact programming over the next three years and achieving 2,300 program completions by the end of 2019.

At the Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center, for example, we provide a wide range of educational opportunities including adult basic education, GED programs, college preparation and entrepreneurship. Other programs focus on helping offenders overcome addictions, developing anger management skills, and preparing them to reconnect with their children and families in a positive way. The goal of every program is the same: to give these men the knowledge and skills they need to be productive citizens and never return to a correctional facility.

Beyond our re-entry programming, CoreCivic launched a nationwide initiative to advocate for a range of policies, including “Ban the Box” legislation, that are aimed at reducing recidivism. While under longstanding policy, we don’t lobby for or against — or take any position on — policies or legislation that would determine the basis for or duration of an individual’s incarceration or detention, we see this policy initiative as an extension of our overall commitment to re-entry.

We’re also proud to be able to provide these critical services at a savings to taxpayers. A study published by the Independent Institute found that using contractor-operated prisons saves between 12 percent and 58 percent in long-run costs while maintaining high-quality service. While the study received funding from the private corrections industry, it was subject to a rigorous peer-review process, and it relied solely on data from state government sources for its calculations. The study is also unique in that it takes into consideration often-ignored factors like unfunded pension liabilities, which are a major concern for New Mexico.

A recent opinion piece questioned the safety of private facilities (“Justice for corporate bottom line,” My View, Nov. 11), but in fact, the authors of the Office of the Inspector General report it cited freely admitted that drawing a direct comparison between rates of inmate violence and misconduct at contract facilities versus public facilities is essentially comparing apples and oranges, due in part to differences in inmate population demographics. The truth is that we’re committed, as we have been for three decades, to creating a safe environment for those entrusted to our care.

CoreCivic brings the scale, experience and professionalism needed to take on and solve tough government problems in cost-effective ways. We meet the needs of our government partners by being flexible, responsive and working fast. Above all, we’re driven by a deep sense of service and the knowledge that our work makes a positive difference in people’s lives across New Mexico and the country.

Amanda Gilchrist is the director of public affairs for CoreCivic.

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