You know our country is on the wrong track when citizens’ freedom becomes bad for business and the states are siding with businesses by locking up more citizens.
Several years ago I wrote about the plague that’s called the private prison industry. A lot has changed since then, but not for the betterment of the American people. States aren’t filling enough beds for the private prison companies, so now, taxpayers are being sued because there aren’t enough criminals.
These aren’t frivolous lawsuits, either. Several government agencies knowingly signed contracts with private prison companies that guarantee a minimum occupancy or quota. In fact, In the Public Interest has found that nearly 2/3 of the contracts have quota clauses. In California, for example, there is a guarantee of 70 percent occupancy and in Arizona, nearly 100 percent.
If crime goes down, which it has been, either the taxpayer pays after the lawsuits or police start arresting people and courts start convicting people for the most petty crimes possible. Judges will also be encouraged to hand down extra long sentences because many of the prison contracts specify a certain length of time.
There is no evidence that more incarceration has anything to do with the drop in crime. There is also no evidence that private prisons save taxpayers money. In fact, it’s far more likely that they are costing the taxpayers.
Prisoners are our forgotten citizens. In fact, it can be argued that even ex-convicts are only partial citizens; many lose their right to vote and their right to own a gun; many on parole or probation lose their 4th and even 1st amendment rights. That being said, at least prisoners in government facilities have enough food. The same can’t be said of private prisons. Many prisoners become severely underfed while in private prisons.
Private prisons also provide legalized slavery. Many military supplies are made in private prisons and the prisoners are paid pennies an hour – money that is put right back in the private prison company’s coffers when it’s spent at the prison commissary.
There’s a good reason the country has little interest in ending the war on drugs or the war on immigration. Ending those wars would put private prisons out of business.
“Violent crimes are down overall, so how does the United States keep prisons stocked instead? Amplifying the war on drugs: there are now 11 times as many people in jail for drug convictions than there were in 1980, constituting 50% of the prison population. Longer mandatory minimum sentences also keeps the inmates in longer. Most people incarcerated for drug charges are non-violent, have no prior record, and are addicts rather than major drug-traffickers.
“Nearly half of all detained immigrants are held in privately owned facilities. The fact that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has stepped up its game to detain more undocumented immigrants – about 400,000 each year – has actually increased the need for private systems as most detainees will linger in the system waiting for court dates for months if not years.”
There has been some backlash, but not enough. Idaho ended its ties with the largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America. Even Texas has closed down some private prisons, as has Mississippi.
Other states, though, are getting worse. Colorado, for example, shut down five state-run prisons and sent the prisoners to private facilities. In the meantime, Colorado taxpayers are still paying for the upkeep on the state facilities.
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