Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NY Gov Candidate: Turn Prisons into Welfare Dorms

Beth Fouhy
Associated Press

Republican candidate for governor Carl Paladino said he would transform some New York prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients, where they could work in state-sponsored jobs, get employment training and take lessons in “personal hygiene.”

Republican candidate for New York governor Carl Paladino visits the Altamont Fair in Altamont, N.Y., on Friday, Aug. 20, 2010. Paladino greeted fairgoers during a one-hour visit.

Paladino, a wealthy Buffalo real estate developer popular with many tea party activists, isn’t saying the state should jail poor people: The program would be voluntary.

But the suggestion that poor families would be better off in remote institutions, rather than among friends and family in their own neighborhoods, struck some anti-poverty activists as insulting.

Paladino is competing for the Republican nomination with former U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio. The primary is Sept. 14.

Paladino first described the idea in June at a meeting of The Journal News of White Plains and spoke about it again this week with The Associated Press.

Throughout his campaign, Paladino has criticized New York’s rich menu of social service benefits, which he says encourages illegal immigrants and needy people to live in the state. He has promised a 20 percent reduction in the state budget and a 10 percent income tax cut if elected.

Asked at the meeting how he would achieve those savings, Paladino laid out several plans that included converting underused state prisons into centers that would house welfare recipients. There, they would work for the state — “military service, in some cases park service, in other cases public works service,” he said — while prison guards would be retrained to work as counselors.

“Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we’ll teach people how to earn their check. We’ll teach them personal hygiene … the personal things they don’t get when they come from dysfunctional homes,” Paladino said.

New York, like other states, receives a federal block grant to provide cash and other forms of welfare to very low-income residents. Federal law already requires welfare recipients to do some form of work to receive benefits.

New York’s welfare rolls have grown slightly during the recession, while food stamp eligibility has almost doubled, according to the state.

Paladino told The Associated Press would give welfare recipients an opportunity to take public, state-sponsored jobs far from home.

“These are beautiful properties with basketball courts, bathroom facilities, toilet facilities. Many young people would love to get the hell out of cities,” Paladino he said.

He also defended his hygiene remarks, saying he had trained inner-city troops in the Army and knows their needs.

“You have to teach them basic things — taking care of themselves, physical fitness. In their dysfunctional environment, they never learned these things,” he said.

Ketny Jean-Francois, a former welfare recipient and a New York City advocate for low-income people, said Paladino’s idea shocked her.

“Being poor is not a crime,” she said. “People are on welfare for many reasons … Is he saying people are poor because they don’t have any hygiene or any skills?”

A Lazio spokesman didn’t immediately return a message.

Paladino said he based his ideas on the Civilian Conservation Corps, a federal program that paid young unemployed men during the Great Depression to plant trees, build roads and develop parks.

Paladino said he would open the program both to long-term welfare recipients and to people who had lost their jobs during the recession. He said that he didn’t know how he would pay for it but that prisons could be consolidated to make room.

Paladino rejected any notion that his proposal resembled the economic stimulus programs promoted by many Democrats since the recession began.

“They just sent $26 billion to feed public employee unions,” Paladino said of a bill passed by Congress this month to save teaching jobs around the country. “That money’s not going to poor people. It’s going to people who are well off and comfortable.”

Associated Press writer Marc Beja contributed to this report.

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jknight said...

This figures. Rich white Republican thinking that all people on welfare are illegal, lazy, or come from dysfunctional environments.

I am none of these, yet I am on public assistance along with my family.

What an insult. This guy should experience what my family and I have gone through. We are in this because of the recession, and now it's turning into a depression.

This man should lose everything, like I did, and spend some time in a shelter, like my family and I did.

Thebes said...

Normally I would favor having Poor Houses rather than the current bloated system of "welfare" which benefits some of the poor immensely and does little or nothing for many others (ie, if you aren't a single mom).

BUT, pushing the poor into former prisons is idiotic in the extreme. This seems like a scheme to gradually bring back Debters' Prisons.

The TEA PARTY has been hijacked by elitist right wingers, I supported it when it was Libertarian.

Activist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Activist said...

Thank you for contributing. This is a complete outrage, in my view. As Jknight has intimated -- of ALL times to be using this rhetoric, now is the worst. I personally know many hard-working multi-talented people who are flat broke. And this moron has the audacity to talk about hygiene issues. Just shows you how totally disconnected, and completely lacking in empathy our "leaders" are. -- Michael Edwards

zon said...

Sounds like he is trying to start the process of making it a crime to be poor. I imagine that after that they will move the disabled into the same prisons they have put the poor women that have had to deal with welfare simply to keep getting their disability benefits. A concern seeing that I am a working disabled person who cant work enough to get off of disability. most disabled people do work as do many of the people who are on welfare when they can get work or child care that allows them to work.

Activist said...

Yes, the crime to be poor is ready to be capitalized upon. The suggestion that people should be moved into a sort of re-education camp is what our prisons have become. Profiting off of hardship is what the Elite-controlled system is all about -- Michael Edwards

jknight said...

Of course they are going to make it a crime to be poor. Because they have never been poor.

And this bull pucky about personal hygiene, well, yes, the long-term homeless don't have access to shower or laundry facilities, but people on welfare do. Even in the shelters. I should know, my family and I were in a family shelter. Our unit had a kitchenette with full stove, refrigerator, and sink. Our private bathroom had a full bath/shower, toilet, and sink.

But we did see people blowing through their EBT food stamps and funds by going across the street to buy hamburgers, fries, and other prepared foods by the people who worked there instead of going to the local supermarkets (of which there were 3 in the immediate area) and actually cooking their food. And I'll tell you this, when my family and I got our voucher to get out of the shelter, we took it and ran with it. we got out of that shelter within a month of getting the voucher. Others, even those who had jobs, are still sitting on those vouchers.

Also, the only jobs they have available are for security, home health care, maintenance, and cashiers. They also have free GED courses. All of those are pointless to me because I have my Bachelor's and 15 years experience in my field. But, according to this rich white nitwit, they are going to add military jobs to the mix. Great. More poor and alas, mostly brown-skinned, people sent overseas to die in wars so this slime and others like him can make more money.

And, folx, it's only gonna get worse.

Anonymous said...

"supported by many tea party activists", right...

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