Social scientist’s today talk about “industrial complexes”, a term that was popularized in his 1961speech, Eisenhower spoke of the military-industrial complex and warned that it would, or could, ultimately prove to be dangerous to American society. As Eisenhower spoke of the military-industrial complex, this also reaches to other big industries like the prison industry. The prison-industrial complex going on today could be described as a term meaning interest groups that represent organizations that do business in correctional facilities who are believed to be more concerned with making more money than actually rehabilitating criminals or reducing crime rates. So basically, people who are currently running the prison system right now are running it basically as a business looking for a profit.
Today the United States has approximately 1.8 million people behind bars: about 100,000 in federal custody, 1.1 million in state custody, and 600,000 in local jails. Prisons hold inmates convicted of federal or state crimes; jails hold people awaiting trial or serving short sentences. The United States now imprisons more people than any other country in the world—perhaps half a million more than Communist China (Schlosser). One of the main reasons that we have so many people in our jails can be explained in large part by the sentences given to people who have committed nonviolent offenses. Crimes that in other countries would usually lead to community service, fines, or drug treatment—or would not be considered crimes at all—in the United States now lead to a prison term, by far the most expensive form of punishment.
"No matter what the question has been in American criminal justice over the last generation," says Franklin E. Zimring, the director of the Earl Warren Legal Institute, "prison has been the answer."
On January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower used his farewell address to issue a warning, as the United States continued its...