The bible teaches that “The LOVE of MONEY is the root of all evil”, and once again….money has reared it’s ugly face through the prison system as human are being marketed like produce.
Operating inside a $74 billion industry, major players are cashing in on the practice of contracting the caging of humans to private companies.
“As states are being increasingly crunched for space, facing very strong or very large deficits, they need to find ways to reduce costs, and so this is one way that they can help solve budgetary problems,” David Muhlhausen, a research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, said.
Critics complain that private prisons cut corners on salaries, guard training, inmate medical care, and facility maintenance to add to their bottom lines.
“The model as a whole has not had a happy history,” Dr. Fran Buntman, a criminologist at George Washington University, said.
For-profit companies should not be in the business of locking up criminals.
“Ethically we need to deal with the fact that when we have chosen to put people in prison, we’ve taken away from their liberty rights to control their own lives. We as a society and the government as the institution looking after them have a responsibility to their welfare. We cannot subcontract out that responsibility to a private agency.”
For critics of the industry, their fears materialized a few months ago when Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) proposed a $250 million deal to 48 states. The company would buy state prisons and manage them if the states would guarantee a 90 percent occupancy rate.
“What’s more important? People or money?” John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, asked.
“I’m not saying corporations are evil, but corporations exist for one reason, to make money, maximum profit,” he continued. “That’s okay if you’re making widgets or toothpaste, but when you’re dealing with people and you’re making money off of people — you’re starting to treat people like they’re toothpaste and you’re making money off of them and I think that’s way we’re headed.
“We’re de-personalizing people in this country and I think that we’re heading to a country where people are going to be treated like they’re products,” he said.
However, Muhlhausen warned not to lose sight of the fact that it’s the criminal justice system, not the prison industry, that still determines who gets locked up and who doesn’t and for how long.
With that being said, it use to be that thief of $500 was a felony, however that has been dropped to $200 in the criminal justice system which insures a felony charge.
More and more fees have been added to the court’s list as a way of collecting money. Some examples follow:
- Felony fee
- Transcript fee
- Restitution fee
- Commonwealth Attorney fee
- Reduce Felony to Misdemeanor fee
- DNA fee
- Jail fee
- Courthouse fee
- Security fee
- Local fee
- State fee, etc., etc., etc,
‘Unique Investment Opportunity’
In a recent investor presentation CCA pitched its “unique investment opportunity” in a “large and under-penetrated market as only about 10 percent of prisoners are in private partnerships.”
The company boasts of “limited competition,” and points out that public prisons are overcrowded as prison populations are growing.
It adds that, historically, inmate populations have grown despite economic conditions. Since the beginning of the 2008 recession, CCA’s inmate population grew by more than 12 percent.
The company points out that another reason investing in the jailing of people makes good financial sense: “high recidivism.” CCA cites a Pew study that found more than 43 percent of the people released from prison in 2004 returned within three years.
Despite controversy, the private prison industry is expected to continue growing.
Whitehead said he expects the criminalization of America to grow with it, including the incarceration of more women and children.
“I think America has lost its way. I think the way we view people, the old Judeo-Christian viewpoint that people were created in the image of God, they had great worth and dignity and we should care for them, we should try to get them on the right path,” he said. “No, I think we look at people right now in a very suspicious way.” Source
Many of those returned to prison is due to the person’s inability to pay their incarceration fees which is due to unemployment. The inability to find work is because of the felony charge. It’s a vicious cycle guided by the business of making money.