It is Prison Friday at Scission and today I just happen to have a piece written by an old friend on the private prison industry.
I have written on this miserable but perfectly suited capitalist industry numerous times in the past, but Bill Berkowitz today is focusing on how contracts between the states and these incarceration industrialists, if you will, are actually helping to put more people in prison and helping to keep the USA number one in prison inmates. In America today, approximately 130,000 people are locked up in private prisons that are being run by for-profit companies, and that number is growing very rapidly
The US began messing around with private prisons back around 1984 and between 1990 and 2009 the inmate population in these prisons grew by 1,664%. Talk about a growth industry. It is obvious that prison companies have an incentive to increase the prison population, Policymic points out, by:
... passing more laws, policing more heavily, sentencing more harshly, and denying parole. Likewise, there’s no motivation to rehabilitate prisoners; doing so is expensive, cuts into their profits, and decreases the likelihood that any individual will be back in the prison system. Accordingly, state prisons are much more likely than private prisons to offer programs that help prisoners: psychological interventions, drug and alcohol counseling, coursework towards high school or college diplomas, job training, etc.
And how does the private prison industry make sure what they desire happens? The following is an excerpt from a report put out by the Justice Policy Institute entitled “Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies“…
For-profit private prison companies primarily use three strategies to influence policy: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and building relationships, networks, and associations.
Over the years, these political strategies have allowed private prison companies to promote policies that lead to higher rates of incarceration and thus greater profit margins for their company. In particular, private prison companies have had either influence over or helped to draft model legislation such as “three-strikes” and “truth-in-sentencing” laws, both of which have driven up incarceration rates and ultimately created more opportunities for private prison companies to bid on contracts to increase revenues.
States Guarantee High Prison Populations for Private Prison Industry’s Profits
"The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws."
– Corrections Corp. of America Annual Report, 2010