Against for Profit Prisons

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GE 217
Against for profit prisons

Prisons for profit have a different mission than public prisons, they must earn revenue. This means they have an inherent interest in ensuring prisons stay filled, even at the taxpayer’s expense. When a state government enters into a contract with a private prison company, it legally binds the taxpayer to pay the company a certain dollar amount per inmate per day. This has led to over incarceration and violence at private facilities nationwide. The relationship between prisons and private industry is not a recent innovation, but rather dates back to our nation’s origin. In the colonial period, incarceration was a rarely utilized form of punishment. Newly formed governments, unequipped to house criminals, looked to private jailers to provide detention services. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, via legislation or private contracts, some states leased prison labor to private enterprises. In other states, private organizations exerted complete control over the prison function. (Robbins, 1989) Prison overcrowding has evolved into a critical social problem. Per capita the United States incarcerates more individuals than any other industrialized nation in the world. Studies show that private facilities perform badly compared to public ones on almost every instance from prevention of intra-prison violence, jail conditions, and rehabilitation efforts—except reducing state budgets and adding to the corporate bottom line. To keep their gravy train rolling, private prison companies need a few things from state and local government. * Lots of people arrested and convicted (often of essentially victimless crimes) and given long sentences. This most heavily impacts young black males—about one in nine of whom is in prison, many for using or selling marijuana, or, to a lesser degree, harder drugs. (Although whites have comparable drug use rates, their prosecution rates are dramatically lower.) *...
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