Prison-industrial complex

Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior MemberPosts: 3,918 Senior Member
so, recently I've had some first hand experience as a family member of someone incarcerated in our local county jails (well, almost family -- a very good family friend who we treat as our daughter). She's had some run-ins with the law -- all connected to a turbulent relationship with a junkie boyfriend -- and the net result is she's in jail now for domestic violence charges.

What we're seeing ain't pretty. (And yeah, jail ain't SUPPOSED to be pretty, i Know that -- and yeah, she takes responsibility for her actions in all of this, so spare the lectures -- when it's family, you gotta love them anyway). Two full days spent in a straightjacket, sitting in the overflow from her cell's toilet. Prison guards that routinely trade sex for preferential treatment. Indeterminate holding times awaiting trial with no contact allowed to family -- people just vanish.

But I think the biggest eye opener has been the huge INDUSTRY that has grown up around our jail system, feeding off the families and loved ones of inmates. Want to get messages to your inmate? Well sure, we'll sell you phone access, and gee, that $10 service fee everytime you make a deposit to their commisary account, that sure makes the $3.00 ATM fee seem trivial now, don't it?

What's really interesting is to compare the two county jails -- literally 10 miles from each other, in a community where there's a great deal of fluidity across the county border (indeed, our friend was arrested in one county last week, jailed there for 5 days, then immediately picked up on her release by the OTHER county for parole violation and thrown in THAT jail for an unknown amount of time (could be 30 days, could be a year -- we don't know). One -- in my county -- has arrangements in place with private vendors who run most of the jail operations. The other -- in the neighboring county -- is run mostly by the county gov't.

and guess what? despite having similar populations and demographics, the "for profit" jail has an average daily inmate population that is THREE TIMES the population in the county-run jail! Who'd have guessed that creating financial incentives to lock up as many people as possible, for as long as possible, would somehow lead to higher inmate populations?

all I gotta say is, "what a racket."

Replies

  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 9,971 Senior Member
    Look deeper and you may find judges and magistrates bribed to send people to the for-profit jail. There was a major scandal in PA a few years ago involving judges paid to send youthful offenders to private youth detention camps.

    http://www.jlc.org/current-initiatives/promoting-fairness-courts/luzerne-kids-cash-scandal
    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    as I recall, a similar thing was discovered in Texas, too.

    I gotta say, the more I see of this system, the more I understand how we have the highest incarceration rate of any first world country. It is almost as if it's DESIGNED to keep people in trouble.
  • dryfliedryflie Senior Member Posts: 1,442 Senior Member
    This is an "exceptional" country, not always in the best of ways. So nothing surprises me anymore.
    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” - John Kenneth Galbraith
  • JulietJuliet Posts: 0
    and guess what? despite having similar populations and demographics, the "for profit" jail has an average daily inmate population that is THREE TIMES the population in the county-run jail! Who'd have guessed that creating financial incentives to lock up as many people as possible, for as long as possible, would somehow lead to higher inmate populations?

    Are you suggesting that having for-profit jails leads to a higher number of prisoners overall? Interesting thought.
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    well, I recognize that correlation is not causation, but it sure seems like it. And as George points out, there have been cases in the US in recent history where there's a DIRECT connection between the for-profit prison system and the court system.
  • JulietJuliet Posts: 0
    Could be.

    You know what they say about prison, it doesn't reform criminals, it just makes bad criminals into good criminals.
    I hope your friend comes out alright. Sounds like a bad situation she might not have been psychologically capable of escaping.
  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 24,110 Senior Member
    Steven wrote: »
    Are you suggesting that having for-profit jails leads to a higher number of prisoners overall? Interesting thought.

    It certainly provides an incentive to fight the repeal of mandatory minimums.
    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan
  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 24,110 Senior Member
    I am not a fan of Taibbi's, but he may have a point here.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/15/who_goes_to_jail_matt_taibbi

    Sherb, you might find what he says about prosecutors at around 25 min. interesting.
    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan
  • JulietJuliet Posts: 0
    "Tough enforcement, risky enforcement, is subject to extensive negotiation and weakening,"

    I mean that says it all right there, I'd think. In a world of limited resources, I imagine prosecutors might find it makes more sense to go after crimes they know are illegal rather than stuff that may or may not be illegal and that a jury of twelve may not be able to understand because of the complexity of many of these deals. Sherb can comment on that.

    But when the Feds have somebody in sight on something that is well understood, like insider trading, where they think they can get a conviction, they bring the hammer down no matter who it is. Just ask Mark Cuban or Raj Rajaratnam
  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 24,110 Senior Member
    He makes an interesting point however. If you can have cases where these companies come up with billions of dollars, why is it impossible to get someone to do 30 days in jail?
    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan
  • bakerloobakerloo Banned Posts: 980 Senior Member
    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time...
    "So what is big is not always the Trout nor the Deer but the chance, the being there. And what is full is not necessarily the creel nor the freezer, but the memory."
    Aldo Leopold
  • dryfliedryflie Senior Member Posts: 1,442 Senior Member
    Steven wrote: »
    Are you suggesting that having for-profit jails leads to a higher number of prisoners overall? Interesting thought.

    Steven, this is really simple space management economics. If there's room for prisoners that room will be filled, if no room prisoners go home early. The private prison industry realized this years ago. So yes to your question...if there's room at the inn it will be filled.
    There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.

    What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?

    “The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of **** Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”
    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” - John Kenneth Galbraith
  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 24,110 Senior Member
    bakerloo wrote: »
    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time...

    Unless you are rich enough, then you will not even do time if you **** a 4 year old.
    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan
  • Scott ButnerScott Butner Senior Member Posts: 3,918 Senior Member
    And if you're poor and dependent on a public defender don't count on your innocence to get you out of jail - they'd rather talk you into pleading guilty than get tied up taking you through trial, and diverting their energy from the couple dozen other cases they are juggling
  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 9,971 Senior Member
    bakerloo wrote: »
    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time...

    That was Baretta's tag line. Every once in a while he would throw a bad guy or two off the roof; he was a no-nonsense old school TV cop.

    In real life, his portrayer beat the rap, Hollywood style a la OJ.
    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.
  • bakerloobakerloo Banned Posts: 980 Senior Member
    Yes, he sure did.
    "So what is big is not always the Trout nor the Deer but the chance, the being there. And what is full is not necessarily the creel nor the freezer, but the memory."
    Aldo Leopold

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