What Happened To America, Land Of The Free? The Prison Industrial Complex

Imprisoned Per Capita

Private prisons are big business now.  Can we trust private companies in this vital role of society?  No.  No we can’t.  Of course we can’t, not when you consider they profit from having more prisoners.  Any pretense of a ‘correctional facility’ would be thrown out the window.  Where’s the profit in that?  Much better for business to ensure those who leave are likely to come back.

The graph, linked to the source, nationmaster.com, shows quite clearly that America, land of the free, incarcerates more citizens than any other country in the world.  Land of the free?  Having lived in the US for my first 18 years, the people there did not strike me as maniacal and so prone to violence that in order to keep the country free, we had to incarcerate more people per capita than any other country in the world.  We’re counting North Korea, Russia, and China here.  This, on the face of it, is quite disturbing.  So why is this the case?

We Know The War On Drugs Is A Well Known Factor For High Incarceration Rates Of Non Violent Offenders, But There Are More Insidious Variables At Play

Land of The FreeThere’s several factors; the war on drugs being the most obvious that comes to mind, but more insidious still is the fact there are privatized prisons that make a profit off of having more inmates.  To add insult to injury, the tax payers fund this fiasco, we just trust the private corporations to run the prisons more efficiently than the State would.  Perhaps you’re thinking this isn’t such a bad idea, especially if you’re one of those folks that thinks the private sector does everything better than the public sector.

The Right Incentives Can Make Or Break A Business, Or A Nation

Incentives are important in any business, on any scale.  Say you’re in a call center and the employees are given incentives based on overall talk time instead of results on service levels or revenue generated.  I think you know what comes next; a room full people trying to stay on the phone as long as possible without their central aim being what is going to drive the business in a forward direction.  The incentives of the private prisons are to house as many inmates as they can for as long as they can.  How can this go wrong?

Arizona Senate Bill 1070

Let’s take Arizona Senate Bill 1070 for an excellent example.  Essentially this bill guarantees that there will be more illegal immigrants imprisoned in private prisons.  Worse still is that it requires ‘aliens’ from across the border to have their registration papers on them at all times.  Police can, without cause other than suspicion based on a visual analysis of their race or ethnicity, require a person to produce the papers at anytime, and to be unable to do so on the spot is a crime.  But that’s not the worst of it.  ALEC, a lobbying group, actually introduced this bill to a senator who submitted the legislation without bothering to remove ‘ALEC’ from the heading of the document.  That’s correct, a privatized system funded by the government is feeding legislation to the government that will inevitably result in more business.

The More Prisoners, The More Profit

Private prisons also lobby on behalf of those who wish to not only keep cannabis illegal, but to ensure there are longer prison sentences associated with the use or distribution of the plant.  Any law the lobbyists can introduce that will ensure more Americans are put in prison is going to be to their financial benefit.  The wealthier they become the more funds they have to influence – well let’s just be honest and say purchase – a politician to do their bidding.


Here’s a graph showing the unsettling – or profoundly terrifying, depending upon how your perception of how much unnecessary human suffering is involved in being incarcerated for crimes that do not warrant the loss of freedom – trend from 1920 to 2006 concerning the rate of incarceration.  I think the steep cliff speaks for itself, but by all means have a click and read on if you want more information.

The social injustice in the rates of incarceration of minorities and those living in impoverished communities is, I’m sure you won’t be surprised, unjustifiable.  I’m going to give the readership of this article credit enough to fathom the underlying racism in our criminal justice system that might lead to this phenomena without exploring it more indepthly in this article.

The Prison Industrial Complex: One Symptom Of Systemic Corruption In America

There’s a thousand and seven you tube videos, and four thousand and seventy six article son the web *fictional numbers* that you can check out if you want to find out more about this madness, or if you have a hard time believing it’s true.  But it is true, and it’s sad.  I’ll leave you with the below video, and as they’ll touch upon during the interview, the problem – as usual – comes down to Citizen’s United and the legalized bribery of our government by campaign donors, or the promise of a more lucrative job once the politician leaves office.

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