With the United States being the land of the free, you would expect to see very low incarceration rates, but this isn’t the case. Crime rates in the American metropolis areas are blown completely off of the scale when compared to other countries around the world. Which leads to the question, “ why does the United States incarcerate more people than any other country?” through the duration of this essay I will attempt to reveal and provide possible solutions to the ethical problems associated with the United States prison system, more directly the business that was created by the incarceration of human beings with privatized prison systems. Making money off of the imprisonment of other people is morally wrong, therefore it needs so cease for justice to be available in the American court system.
The United States of America has possibly the most screwed up justice system on the planet. We hold approximately 5% of the world’s population, so in theory we should hold about 5% of the prisoners in the world, but that is not the case. “As of 2015 25% of the world’s incarcerated population was held in the U.S.” (Sanders, 2015). With so many people to lock up, the U.S. started to run out of room to house all of the people, which then opened the opportunity for individuals to own and operate a prison. Once this new business took hold, it completely blew up. From the span of 1990-2009 the number of people incarcerated in a privately owned prison grew 1600%, and now, they hold 21% of the prisoners in America.
The question that I asked myself when looking at the growth of private prisons was, “what is the reason behind the exponential growth.” The answer is sadly not as simple as the question. The main reason that they continue to grow is because “2/3 of private prison contracts require a certain occupancy rate, that is usually 90% and it is mandated by the state and local governments.” (Cohen, 2015) If the state were to not fill 90% of beds, the contracts usually require taxpayer dollars to go to paying for the empty beds, so the prison will always come out on top. As the number of private prisons keeps growing, and more and more of these fulfillment contracts are signed, the only way the prison owners can be kept happy is by filling their cells leading to the exponential growth of prisoners in for-profit prisons. These contracts are not the only thing associated with governments and prisons though, as many officials have had close ties with the larger prisons during campaigns. Marco Rubio being one example had very close ties with GEO when he ran the house, and during that time GEO was awarded with 10 million dollars. These 10 million dollars is merely pocket change to a company like GEO though, because GEO & Corrections Corporation of America (the two largest private prison companies) had a combined revenue of 3 billion dollars in 2010. So where do these ridiculous sums of money come from? The state that they are housed in has to pay the prison approximately 50 dollars per person, per day, and with 157,000 private prison beds, that creates a lot of revenue. As well as getting money from the state, many prisons force their prisoners to work for mere pennies to save money. Another obscure way of creating revenue of prisoners is to charge their families by the minuet to talk on the phone with the incarcerated relative.
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The creation of the private prison was not all together a bad idea. They had promised cheaper rates to hold prisoners, and with so many public prisons filling up they had to find another way to keep these people locked up, but what they have begun to turn into is a moral and racial disaster. Bernie Sanders said, “Prison crisis has disproportionally harmed minorities, and if current trends persist, one in four black males born today and expect to be imprisoned at least once in their life.” (Sanders, 2015) Although this isn’t specifically targeting private prisons, this is where most minorities end up going, especially in today’s age where African-Americans are twice as likely to be arrested, and are imprisoned 6 times as often as their white counterpart. What is there in store for the person getting sent away to a private prison? Trust me if normal prison scares you, you need to stay out of trouble, because chances are you will be sent to a private prison, where the environment is much worse. There were reports of rat feces infested food being fed to prisoners in Michigan, in Texas there was feces and urine coating the cells, and In Mississippi private prisons have 2-3 times as many assaults occur than in public prisons, weighed heavily towards the inexperience of the prison guards. These same types of reports are found numerously throughout the majority of states.
During the span from 1989 till now, Companies such as GEO have funneled more than 10 million dollars to candidates, and have spent 25 million on lobbying efforts. These private prison systems, have many questionable tactics to get who they want in to office, and in doing so are obfuscating justice. Through their lavish campaign contributions and efforts to control information, they can get people in power who support policies that incarcerate Americans and immigrants alike, for non-violent crimes, and it’s just for their paycheck. One of the most well-known examples of this horrific topic was the “kids for cash” scandal. An owner of two private youth detention centers was continually paying off two judges to send kids for prolonged periods of time to a correctional facility for very petty crimes. With this not being the only available example, it is quite easy to see how if we do not stop, or at least slow the growth of private prisons, they will continue to obscure justice.
Private Prisons and Interest Groups Essay
2660 Words11 Pages
Private Prisons and Interest Groups
Privately owned prisons began to emerge in the mid-1980s. These prisons emerged because of the ideological imperatives of the free market, the huge increase in the number of prisoners, and the substantial increase in imprisonment costs. (1) Proponents of privatized prisons put forward a simple case: The private sector can do it cheaper and more efficiently. Corporations such as Correction Corporation of America and Wackenhut promised design and management innovations without reducing costs or sacrificing quality of service. (1) Many interest groups comprised of correctional officers, labor works, and a few citizen groups strongly oppose the privatization of the prison system. I will identify four…show more content…
At the press conference, ACU released a report that was conducted by ACU Department of Research and Collective Bargaining Services. This report documented private prisons' high incidence of violence, riots and inmate escapes. This report also documents that private prisons promise savings for taxpayers, yet there is no evidence that these savings exist. (3) Similar press conferences took place May 12, 1998 in numerous state capitals across the country. In January 1999, Correctional Corporation of America converted its corporate structure into a real estate investment trust, or REIT, called Prison Realty Trust. A REIT is a company that gets a huge federal tax break for owning real estate. The tax break is not supposed to go to companies that own businesses, including prisons. However, CCA believed that they had found a way to get the tax break while operating their private prison business. ACU has sent letters to the IRS and the Treasury Department outlining their belief that Prison Realty should not qualify as a REIT and that CCA is exploiting a tax break that was suppose to stabilize real estate ownership. (4) Aside from letter writing campaigns and informing the public and the press, AFSCME Corrections United also supports legislature against the privatization of prisons. One important piece of legislation is the Public Safety Act (H.R. 979) At ACU's lobbying