Wednesday, February 15, 2012

U.S. Prison Business: Privatize Profits, Socialize Losses (Updated)

Getting rich off taxpayers by building cages
Joe Wright  
Activist Post

A new report from Chris Kirkham for Huffington Post, reinforces my treatment of his previous article which covered news that Florida would privatize 20% of their prisons, following the trend taken by other states. This is supposedly due to state budget shortfalls that need assistance from the private sector. As Kirkham continues to demonstrate, this particular argument is the weakest of all, given the documented facts.  Nevertheless, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has forged ahead even further by recently submitting letters to 48 states offering to buy prisons: "In exchange ... for a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least 90 percent full, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Huffington Post."  View Kirkham's latest must-read article here.

The article below provides some of the background to this latest maneuvering by CCA.

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:

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:

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.

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* 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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Anonymous said...

How about Prison Industries. Now they'll have a 'captive' work force. NO WORK, NO EAT!

Activist said...

Right, well it's not technically slavery if they get .25 cents an hour is it? J.W.

Very Dumb Government said...

I had the unfortunate experience staying at Taft, CA for income tax charges. At the time, this prison was managed by a company called GEO.

One evening, a man in my dorm started to experience some internal bleeding and was put into the emergency medical department. He was locked in the emergency room at about 10:00PM
There was no one to watch or treat him. His bleeding got worse and the blood started to exit almost every part of his body. He tried to get help and he died a horrible death. All because this private company was too cheap to put an all night guard in the medical facility.

The inmates were told to clean up all the blood and they put on a fresh coat of paint to hide the evidence.

His family was devastated by the loss and the skunks called the "staff" just shrugged it off and said he was going to die anyway. If you ever go to prison, don't get sick. The medical care is a farce. You'd be better off not getting any.

In another incident I saw at Lompoc prison, a man wanted to get help as he felt there was something seriously wrong with him. He went to the doctor who told him to go back to his bunk for count. The problem was that he was starting to turn purple, his lips were blue, and he knew he was in serious trouble.

About a half an hour later, he was dead in his bunk. He didn't stand for the count.

The prison system is run by useless pieces of feculent manure. It does not deserve to exist.
It need to be flushed down the toilet.

Another man told me that he went blind because the U.S. Marshals (Brown Shirt Nazis) withheld his medication as well as the prison officials.
Without his medications, he went blind. He said here heard a crackling behind his eyes and he became blind.

I don't have words foul enough to describe this prison system and the people who run it.

sentientwolf said...

I know all too well about Florida jails and their CORPORATE takeovers. Corrupt Sheriffs getting kickbacks, etc. Take a look at the mess it has caused my life, starting with being drugged in a bar by an off-duty cop, then arrested for a DUI --- 3 TIMES in 6 months. Never had a DUI before that. Fled to Canada, hid out, got deported, now homeless, etc., etc.

Shortlink to my Wordpress Blog:

Anonymous said...

The law enforcement agencies know prisons in the U.S.are like revolving doors. Most will be back because they can't get a job because of their record.private prisons are a racket the same as wars are for corporate America and the industrial military complex. Prisons are not about rehabilitation.No other country come close to the number of inmates that are in America.Our justice system is a complete failure.

Anonymous said...

This issue carries incredible weight for us all, I believe. As far as proving how corporate profit has surpassed reason, and how our law enforcement agencies and government readily enforce their corporate masters wishes, this is the starting point for that realization for many of us. Getting busted for pot for the first time brings many "American Dream" delusions to a halt. However discussing these topics while incarcerated, and getting other inmates to listen, is a difficulty that must be addressed. Without the internet, and without any literature on the subject available, its difficult to say the least. Also of note, racial division and religious division has created an atmosphere of fear and ignorance, and speaking against or out can quickly get you marked for extermination. Already trapped in a difficult situation, few people are willing to further aggravate conditions by exciting "rival" factions, especially when their words fall on deaf ears.
So how do we change this?

Anonymous said...

Private Prisons=Only Take Healthy Inmates&Dump High-Cost=Invalids into State Prisons&Increase THEIR Costs=It's Not The Answer=Make Inmates WORK forFree=Why Should My Taxes Pay Them to Lay Around?=CHINA Has 22,000Prison-Factories & Inmates Work 12hr Days&Aren't Paid=That's How CHINA Underprices Us Everywhere=I Say=Make The Inmates Work &Pay us Back for their Crimes$$ I've Done A/C work at Jails&They Have a Better Life Than I Did While in The Military&NEVER WORK
Why Should Criminals Have Better Lifes Than our Troops??MakeThem Work& Pay-Back Their Victims

Anonymous said...

Senator Fasano head of the Comittee to privatize prisons was against it so the President of Florida Senate Removed him from it.

Anonymous said...

Right, this is where obama and his staff obtain the "private sector" jobs numbers as "on the increase!
Mr. H


Let's place more people in prison... Starting with Congress!

Anonymous said...

Colorado has been privatized for 5 to 10 years. It is a mess, expensive and definitely a conflict of interest.

I know people who have been in jail way longer than they should have been . When it is close to the time for them to get out they are set up to get in some trouble so they can keep them longer. They are paid for each full bed, so they have an incentive to keep the prisoners for as long as they can.

Privatizing prisons is a crime ...and they don't run them for less. They always find something they can charge the state for.

Anonymous said...

According to the Constitution slavery is legal if the slave is a "criminal". CCC is therefore a slave owner. What do we do with slave owners? It seems that only the government has any right to own slaves not private for profit corporations. Therefore private ownership of slave is illegal as are private prisons.

Amendment 13 - Slavery Abolished ? Ratified 12/6/1865

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous on april 26, I had a ex-husband who obviously would rather spend his life in prison than with me and his child. they should put his lazy ass to work and have him pay me child support. my kid is 19 and he has been out of prison maybe 2 years in all that time. he loves it there, he makes wine in his toilet, makes money doing tattoos. they get drugs and cell phones in there.

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