The Prison System- A “Market” for Profits
Joseph Hallinan’s analysis, “Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation,” helps to discern that the insatiable drive for profit is the prevailing reason for continued growth of the prison industry in the United States. Public values based on this drive have been supported by the avocation of a “free-market” model and capitalism in the prison system: “According to this ideology every individual pursues his or her own personal interests and the result is a collective good for the entire society” (CJCJ). Instead of the prisons remaining a place of justice, legitimacy, rehabilitation, and safety, prisons are established and run within a capitalist system by those whose chief aim is to gain profit. Profit comes at the expense of safety and rehabilitation services offered to inmates. Wardens attempt to find the cheapest way to maintain the prison population. Competition between public and private prison systems has led to degradation of the system and has caused deals with companies that provide the essentials for the prisons at minimum prices. The underlying reason for growth in the prison industry is not due to rise in crime, rather it is the economic stipulations that the prison system provides including: jobs, security for rural areas, but most importantly profit.
Prison privatization uses the prison system as a means of profit and presents contradictions with public values of safety, justice, rehabilitation, and legitimacy. Economic incentives of this system advocate cutting costs to maximize profits: “Private prisons that cut costs in the hopes of profit present a threat to the safety of prisoners, prison staff, and the public at large” (Gov. CCE). A threat to justice is displayed by the attempt of the industry, “To extend the amount of time that convicts will remain in prison” (Gov. CCE). Inmates up for parole are rarely given the opportunity to receive help for their plea: “Gaining parole was often less of a...
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