For Spoilers, jump to the end 🙂
For-profit prison. The very name of it sounds like something to be heavily regulated at the very least, and probably be nonexistent. At least in a society that claims to be for its people. The history of profiteering prisons is long, there is a great article about it here. The numbers are staggering. The opportunism and covering of it are even more so, The refusal of expensive prisoners? Why is that even an option? Most telling is the fact that it is never calculated in the cost-benefit analyses of the companies that run them. There is no cost-benefit analysis that can price a human being’s potential. The single most important fact is this: the private prisons are not held to the same constitutional standards as government-run facilities. When did we sell our constitutional rights? For all the bluster of any politician or business(man) that claims to stand behind the inalienable rights granted to every citizen in this country, and support private prisons, you are a hypocrite of such grand endeavor as to be criminal.
The evidence for any benefit to the public good is lacking, Any report or study that says there is benefit doesn’t contain all data, misrepresents it, and/or is often a study that is industry funded so they can put statistics in the hands of paid lobbyists. Even the Justice Department can’t seem to agree on its own investigations (Nat’l Inst. of Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics found here). There is no incentive to curb inmate violence, as it just adds to their sentence and provides 3rd-world labor in a 1st world country, and conditions have repeatedly been found to be below that required under constitutional rights. Remember, cruel and unusual? at 6%, and 16%, for State and Federal inmates respectively, that is UNUSUAL. to put them in a prison that can say no, is unusual. I mean, after all, what determines for that inmate where they go? Is it race? Criminal offense? Personal history? Who they pissed off when they came through Intake? None of those factors should be at play. Continual incarceration until the inmate is no longer viable as a worker, then released onto a general public with few skills, no viable working life, and a cost burden to taxpayers is the end result. This is no way to run a prison system, even a small amount. This should be a direct violation of the basic human rights the founding fathers of this country deemed to belong to all humans. The taking of the voting right even further alienates the inmates: they lose their voice, even if rehabilitated, and so their power with constituency politicians. Unless other people stand up for them as a voice, a thing quite difficult to do in any capacity other than abstract, such as I am doing here. Constitutional rights are deemed “inalienable” by the document itself. Strangely enough, that is the very first thing we seem to do when someone makes an error that runs afoul of the justice system and they, by happenstance, live too close to a private prison, or in a state that harbors them.
I’m not saying that some inmates aren’t scum, or there aren’t vicious and callous beings masquerading as humans within the system. What I am saying is that those prisoners aren’t profitable. The private system gets to “Just Say NO” to any unprofitable prisoners, and then turn around and claim how much more profitable they are, and do a better job, while farming out its population for labor that is neither regulated, nor labeled on any companies products. I mean, wouldn’t you want to know if what you buy was made with slave labor from a private prison camp? I would, and I bet many others would too. Not only that, I want to know which companies use that labor, and if they hire the same people when they get out of prison. I get to use my money to support who and what I want, and social issues matter. You can’t claim to support a “free” market that and say that you only want the consumer to look at your product, and no other factors, that isn’t free. That is a controlled market, falsification of source, and a slippery slope towards a society that has all of its citizens either in prison working, or invested in those same endeavors. The previous systems that did that was Slavery, Indentured Servitude, and Sharecropping, to name 3.
The crimes people are in jail for that land them into the private prison system are even more laughable. The worst is the Kids for Cash scandal that Michael Moore featured in a documentary. The fact is this: most are not supremely bad offenders. The breakdown featured in the Prison Policy Initiative’s website shows this. In fact, almost every single reasonable study, data analysis, Cost-benefit breakdown, and civil rights investigation has turned up either substandard conditions, no cost benefit, and a greater threat to society once having gone through this system.
This isn’t a deterrent. Calling this a deterrent assumes that prison itself isn’t one. The very act of calling a privately run prison a deterrent over normal prison, while the worst offenders are kept in the governmental system, is a blatant lie, and undermines the very system the private industry is parasitical to. There is no valid argument a private system that incarcerates its own citizens, then allows other citizens to maintain profit from that jailing. None. Cost benefit? tell me the value of a human life, and make the figure public. We all know that assassinations can happen, but that isn’t what I mean. I mean the kind of reasoning that goes into why there’s an ejection seat on a $35 million aircraft. Or we have regulations on trains, or traffic laws that add cost to people if they even slightly endanger even 1 other person with their actions. NO, if we are to have a government that incarcerates its people, then our government needs to shoulder the cost. Laws that do not recuperate cost from activity must be strictly analyzed. If we are to have a war on drugs to protect the health of our people, then why not universal healthcare? I am quite sure that the “War” on drugs money could save several thousand lives each year directly, not line the pockets of investors and lobbyists and legislators who push for an unjust justice system. In case you didn’t click the link, it’s $40 billion plus. About half of the drug incarcerations are for marijuana possession. While the legality of Marijuana is another post entirely (coming soon), the inequality of that figure is most telling. The highest sentences are for the harder drugs yet all of them combined are about the same as just one whose criminality is in serious question. CHerry Picking the inmates isn’t a deterrent, it’s profiteering that is second in its evil only to war profiteering. That isn’t well-spent tax dollars.
To close this out, I want to provide some alternative. As it comes onto 2016, and Bernie Sanders (#FeelTheBern) runs on a political ticket to dismantle the private system, I want to take up the challenge to provide an alternative, one that keeps some jobs as well as some labor savings. Since Bill Clinton did some damage of his own regarding the private prison industry in 1996 (Federal Workforce Reduction and Court Oversight removal) I would not be expecting Hillary to do much different. Here it is: Pay them to keep those same low-risk, low-cost inmates, out of jail. That’s right. Take that labor, give each inmate more wage, invest each worker’s wage’s in interest bearing accounts (a portion of which can be kept as part of contractual agreements), and some in their personal bank at prison, for their toiletries and such. And if an inmate is successfully retrained, can land a job, and stays out of prison for some set times, use the money saved in tax dollars, and earned in partial interest to pay the companies on a per annum basis for keeping rehabilitated inmates out of jail.
This is just a quick summation of a larger plan, but since rehabilitation is supposed to be the goal of prison, as a means of rejoinder in society…
Why aren’t we paying the private sector to keep people out of jail?
*one last resource on the nastiness of the private prison industry