Former Rep. Vic Kohring says he still supports private prisons even as his enthusiasm clashes with his own observations from inside one, where he said equipment went unrepaired, meals lacked fresh produce and prisoner welfare appeared to take a back seat to saving money.
"That's the downside of the private-run facility," said Kohring, two days after he left the privately run Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, Calif. "There was a certain amount of indifference there."
Kohring spent about 10 months at the low-security camp at Taft following his conviction on federal corruption charges in 2007. He and former House Speaker Pete Kott were freed last week while they argue that their bribery convictions should be overturned because prosecutors failed to give them favorable evidence uncovered by the FBI.
Their first court hearing will be Wednesday, though it will mainly deal with their conditions for release, not the substance of their arguments.
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Kott was held in a prison camp owned and operated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons at Sheridan, Ore. Kott hasn't responded to interview requests.
Kohring was in the process of transferring from Taft to Sheridan when release orders were issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick of Anchorage. On Friday, after reporting to probation officers in Anchorage, Kohring spoke extensively with a reporter about his year inside the federal corrections system.
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