//U.S. Prison Business: Privatize Profits, Socialize Losses

U.S. Prison Business: Privatize Profits, Socialize Losses

From: Activist Post

Getting rich off taxpayers by building cages
By Joe Wright – Activist Post

Well, it’s nice work if you can get it.  Florida is set to privatize all of its prisons south of Orlando — 20% of its total — according to a report issued by Chris Kirkham for Huffington Post.

The for-profit prison scheme is a case study in crony capitalism, as it involves private prison corporations donating to the politicians best in position to grant them lucrative contracts.  Cenk Uygur, in the video below, breaks down this “cherry picking” strategy that sets up FL taxpayers to carry the burden of failure, while corporate/government interests land another windfall; in this case, the largest procurement contract in the industry’s history:


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Beyond this single blatant example of lobbying by private interests in the state of Florida, the trend of privatizing prisons has been ongoing since the first business was established in 1984*, and is slated to rise in coming years.  Furthermore, the implications of what it means that private companies are taking over captive populations should also be examined.
The U.S. prison population continues to explode, as America plunges headlong into becoming a bona fide police state.  The federal policies of criminalizing just about everything, offer a built-in growth sector for any corporation that can capture it.  No wonder, then, that companies like GE have gotten in on the action, while the nation’s largest private contractors, Corrections Corporation of America and GEO (formerly Wackenhut),  have combined revenues well into the billion of dollars per year.  And they are international in scope. (Source)

America already holds 25% of the world’s prison population, and the number of these prisoners held in private prisons has risen dramatically over the past 10 years from 2,000 housed in 5 private prisons, to more than 60,000 housed in 100; and is a number expected to rise to 360,000 prisoners over the next decade. (Source)

Logically, such growth would only encourage the same collusion and revolving-door policies that we see in the weapons and security industries, for example, where government officials who craft legislation and award contracts end up working for, or heading up, private companies that are well-positioned to reap the rewards. (Source)

This strategy has even found its way into immigration policy, as it has been revealed that the private prison industry helped to draft Arizona’s immigration law.  SB1070 was created in a hand-holding session between Corrections Corporation of America and State Senator Russell Pearce in another blatant example of corporatism.  This should anger those on either side of the immigration debate, as it completely excluded the voting public:

According to Corrections Corporation of America reports reviewed by NPR, executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market. Last year, they wrote that they expect to bring in ‘a significant portion of our revenues’ from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that detains illegal immigrants. (Source)

The “next big market” is something that is normally reserved for a new product designed to be desirable to its target audience, whether through novelty or efficiency.  Turning human beings into that product is nothing short of a type of human trafficking and slavery, as discussed in the video below:


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As the economy declines, there has even been a revival in debtors’ prisons, formally abolished in the early 1800s.  Perhaps this is the crux of the message: real pressure is mounting on local governments to trim costs in a difficult economic environment.  An empathetic public is primed to be swayed by that argument. However, Kirkham clearly demonstrates in his article that even this reasoning is completely fallacious:

Proponents have advanced the move as a cost-saving measure, a business-minded response to the state’s budget shortfall. But a series of studies and the experiences of several other states that have experimented with privatizing prison systems raise significant doubts about the cost savings that are supposed to accrue: Private prisons have tended to take control of the lowest-cost inmates, those lacking health problems and posing less risk of violence, while leaving states to contend with the harder cases. (Source)

Perhaps most worrisome about the growth of private control over an increasing “human product” cherry picked from the public is that it seems to be no longer reserved only for adults. A heightening wave of arresting children, some as young as five, might be tempting to corporate interests that have proven themselves to be more than happy to expand their product line and reap profits … even from the most innocent among us. 

* Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was awarded a contract to take over a facility in Hamilton County, Tennessee. This marked the first time that any government in the country had contracted out the complete operation of a jail to a private operator. (Source: Wikipedia)

Read other articles by Joe Wright here

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