THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Geoghan consultant's professional ties eyed
By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff, 9/5/2003
George Camp, the consultant tapped by the Romney administration to help lead an investigation into the state Department of Correction's policies and procedures after the death of former priest John J. Geoghan, serves as the executive director of a professional association of the nation's top 50 corrections executives, including Michael T. Maloney of Massachusetts.
State officials said Camp was added to provide an independent voice on the three-member panel launched Aug. 25 to conduct a comprehensive investigation, but Camp's independence has come under scrutiny by critics amid disclosures that his consulting work in New York was dismissed by a federal judge as "biased" and "misleading."
And the Globe reported yesterday that Camp's company has a $775,000 federal contract for a study at several prison sites, including Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, where Geoghan was killed Aug. 23.
As executive director of the Association of State Correctional Administrators, Camp and his wife, Camille Camp, have a contract to work for Maloney and the nation's other top corrections officials, promoting their agenda for improvements in the corrections field.
Reginald A. Wilkinson, the director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, who is the association's president, said the Camps are tremendous assets to the nation's top corrections officials.
"Maloney knows the Camps very well," he aid. "But I don't think the fact he knows them, or that he is a member of this association, would compromise them. I can understand where a conflict of interest might be perceived, but knowing them, they will be very candid. If there is a problem, and it needs to be fixed, they will say so."
Maloney's spokesman, Justin Latini, said Maloney's relationship with Camp is no more than "professional," and noted that Maloney belongs to other professional associations and knows many corrections specialists.
Asked if Maloney's association with Camp presented a conflict of interest in Camp's current role investigating the Department of Correction, Latini said, "These are professional people. They are experts in the field of correction."Marian McGovern, a spokeswoman for state Public Safety Secretary Edward A. Flynn, said Flynn knew of Camp's role as the executive director of the managers association before the panel was named. "And he stands 100 percent committed to George Camp and his qualifications," she said.
Camp did not return phone calls asking for comment on his role at the corrections association.
But Senator Jarrett T. Barrios said, "This confirms that Romney's commission is essentially an internal review of the process and by definition not an impartial review." Barrios is cochairman, with Representative Timothy J. Toomey Jr., of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Safety, which will conduct a hearing on the results of the panel's investigation. Barrios and Toomey are Cambridge Democrats.
State Inspector General Gregory W. Sullivan said the panel appeared less than impartial and lacked credibility.
"This is an important commission, and assuming there is a finding of no wrongdoing by the Department of Correction, who is going to believe it? Camp should step down," he said.
"The taxpayers deserve better," said Leslie Walker, executive director of Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, which represents poor inmates. "We don't want an investigation that begins with the waters muddied by who knows what pre-existing, long-standing relationship."
Prisoners' lawyers have criticized the panel's makeup since it was announced by Flynn. Besides Camp, the board includes Mark Delaney, a State Police major, and Mark Reilly, the Department of Correction's chief of investigations. State Police and the Department of Correction are separate agencies overseen by the Executive Office of Public Safety.
Wilkinson said his association represents the nation's top corrections managers in criminal justice issues on Capitol Hill. He said that while he and others testify before Congress on issues that affect prisons, the group does no lobbying and does not attempt to influence Congress on funding issues.
Corrections officials are recruited into the association upon being promoted to the top position in their states, and undergo training sessions organized by the Camps, Wilkinson said. The group conducts regular training and educational sessions, and meets at least once a year.
The association operates out of the office of Criminal Justice Institute Inc., Camp's for-profit consulting firm.
Camp's company has a $775,000 contract with the National Institute of Corrections to carry out an assessment of the culture at Souza-Baranowksi Correctional Center and a dozen other prisons as part of an initiative to improve prisons by understanding better how they operate, said Susan M. Hunter, head of the institute's prison division.
Camp's company was selected in 2000 by the institute in a competitive review of proposals from numerous consultants, she said. The contract has been renewed every year since then.
Camp trains teams of assessors on what to look for in interviews and focus groups of a prison's leaders, staff, and inmates.
Hunter said institute officials have talked about Camp "wearing two hats," but said that legally Camp cannot be barred for doing work for the agency, so long as he keeps separate any institute grant funding and Association of Correctional State Administrators funding.
She said she sees no conflict of interest in using the executive director of the manager's association for grants.
Sean P. Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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