Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Possible Solution For Overcrowding Problem At Cabarrus County Jail

Below is a story about the privatization of the Marion County (Indiana) jail. Cabarrus officials would be wise to follow up on this story.
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How Sheriff Can Ease Budget Shortfall With Private Jail

by Geoffrey F. Segal
Geoffrey F. Segal is the director of privatization and government reform policy at Reason Foundation.
His email address is

August 13, 2004 -- Marion County faces severe budget cuts this year, including $6.5 million for the Sheriff's Department. As a result, Sheriff Frank Anderson proposes returning 345 inmates currently housed at a private jail back to the county. Frankly, this proposal is flawed and ultimately will cost the taxpayers of Marion County more money, not less.

In April, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker placed a population cap on the Marion County Jail I to improve conditions there. Shifting 345 inmates would put the county in violation of a court order, leaving it open to further litigation and potential fines of $40 per inmate per day from the court.

In addition, it is shortsighted to assume that adding 345 more inmates to the jail will not cost the county additional money. The average cost per inmate per day at the county-run facility is more than $44. This far surpasses the rate that Corrections Corp. of America, the private operator of Marion County Jail II, charges the county for housing inmates. With a per-day rate of $39.95 per inmate, it charges less than the potential fine the county faces.

Not only would the county pay more money to house inmates at its facility, it would face potential fines of $40 per inmate per day.

Rather than reduce the number of inmates at the private facility, the county should explore ways to take further advantage of the private jail and the savings associated with privatization. More competition, not less, will result in savings for the county.

One option would be to increase the number of inmates sent to the private jail. Under the current contract, the county saves at least $4 each day per inmate at the county facility. Sending just 350 additional inmates to the private jail would save more than $500,000 per year.

However, the biggest savings opportunity, as identified by County Auditor Marty Womacks, remains the full privatization of the county-run jail. Indeed, assuming $3 savings per inmate a day (a conservative estimate that is 25 percent less than current savings at the private jail), the county would save more than $1.2 million on the cost of housing nearly 1,100 inmates. Given tight budget times and facing significant cuts, privatization seems to make sense.

Marion County has a long and positive experience with jail privatization. Indeed, it was former Mayor Stephen Goldsmith who brought competition to public services in Indianapolis and Marion County. The answer to the county's budget problems lies in more competition, not less. Rather than shying away from privatization and more competition, all county agencies, not just the sheriff, need to embrace it.

Privatizing the Marion County Jail is sound policy that will unlock savings for taxpayers, avoid violating a court-ordered population cap, provide for the proper treatment of inmates and maintain security for Marion County.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Cabarrus Planning & Zoning Board Critical Of Proposed Development Standards

The Cabarrus P&Z board gave newly proposed development standards a chilly reception. Members of the board are concerned about the impact upon the building industry.

In an article from the Independent Tribune, several members of the P&Z board expressed comments regarding the tougher standards. Carl Hill was quoted as saying, "The problem is a lot of people working on this project have never made a payroll"

I agree. Most government planners have no idea what it takes to run a private company.

Regarding the proposed changes, board member Lanny Lancaster said, "I don't think it's needed. I think the market will control itself on that."

Well said Lanny! In a trully free market, that would always be the case. Unfortunately, interference by government has created a distortion in the market. The only role government has in the housing market is protecting citizens from force or fraud and the enforcement of contracts.

I would like to commend the P&Z board for standing up for property rights. We could use a few of those guys on the county commission..

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Liberties Of A Nation

"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever".

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18, 1781

Monday, May 16, 2005

Odell Residents Are Wise Not To Trust Kannapolis

(The following is based on an article, written by Ronnie Glassberg, that appeared in the Cabarrus Neighbors section of the Charlotte Observer on Sunday, May 15 2005)

The Odell community is a hornet's nest of rebellion over the threat of forced annexation by the City of Kannapolis. State Senator Flecther Hartsell certainly "stirred up the nest" when he introduced a bill that would allow Kannapolis to further encroach upon residents in the northwest portion of the county. The article stated that Hartsell introduced the bill because Kannapolis asked him to but he hasn't taken a position on the issue. Hmm, let's see, how many legislators introduce bills before they decide whether it is a good idea or not? Sounds like politics as usual.

Also within the article, Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg said the city had no plans for involuntary annexation in northwest Cabarrus. Regarding forced annexation, Mr. Legg was quoted as saying, "It's what has made cities healthy in North Carolina". Gee Mr. Legg, I consider the usurpation of property rights and the "consent of the governed" to be quite unhealthy.

The citizens of Cabarrus County need to send a strong message to Raleigh! Just say no to forced annexation. The state law allowing forced annexation needs to be removed. We need to send representatives to Raleigh that will defend the rights of individual citizens.

The residents of Odell have every right to organize their own voluntary political association. Municipalities do not have the "right" to expand their corporate limits. Cities and towns have no rights at all. Because our rights are gifts from our Creator, only individuals can have rights.

I admire the folks in Odell for standing up for their's.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Forced Annexation

Below is a letter to the editor (lte)I sent to the Independent Tribune today. My letter was inspired by a lte written by Steven Hilton, Chair of the Wake LP. His letter compared the Libertarian platform plank concerning forced annexation with the Demopublicans' platforms which do not mention the subject.

Thanks for setting a fine example Steven!
I would like to applaud the efforts by Odell residents to protect their private property from Kannapolis. Forced annexation is a direct assault on property owner’s civil liberties. Government was established to protect our Life, Liberty and Property. Unfortunately, governments at all levels have violated the public trust.

Currently, municipalities cannot annex land more than three miles from their incorporated boundaries. Sen. Fletcher Hartsell has introduced a bill that would drop that requirement. The residents of the Odell community should remember that when he faces re-election in 2006.

Residents in all unincorporated areas of Cabarrus should support candidates that are opposed to forced annexation. There are people opposed to forced annexation from all political parties. However, of the three political parties recognized by the state, only the Libertarian Party of North Carolina officially opposes forced annexation. The plank of the LPNC platform reads, “The LPNC opposes forced annexation by municipalities. All annexation should be subject to the direct approval of those living in areas proposed to be annexed”.

Keep up the Good Fight Odell residents! You have a high mountain to climb. It is a crying shame that in a supposedly free society, citizens have to take drastic steps, such as forming a new municipality, to protect their property. On behalf of Libertarians and liberty lovers everywhere, I would like to offer our support in defending your property rights!

Thomas Hill
Chair, Libertarian Party of N.C.