All posts by nmsides

Self Analysis

When my group picked the prison system as out topic for our blog, I didn’t even know that private prisons existed.  I just assumed all prisons were the same.  I found out very quickly that this is not the case.  This entire project has been a huge learning experience for me.  Although, here at the end, I can honestly say that I’ve learned so much about this topic.

Due to my lack of knowledge about private prisons at the beginning, I did not have an opinion on them.  However, as I learned more about them, I was able to make an opinion.  This helped me write about my topic because I had a truly unbiased opinion on it.  Also, it made it clear that my opinion was forming as the project progressed from week to week.

The easiest part of this project for me was the weekly postings.  It was so easy for me to go online and find yet another problem with the private prison industry and write about it.  On the other hand, the hardest part of the project was the analysis post.  This is because there simply was not enough to talk about from the other side of the argument.  The only supporters of private prisons are the corporations themselves and the government that is trying to rid itself of immigrants.  Also, any evidence of support provided is highly questioned.  This made the analysis post difficult because there is a lack of information to support private prisons.

Overall, this was a very interesting topic that gave me a new perspective on the prison system.  Doing research allowed me to develop those skills and writing a weekly post and other posts allowed me to develop my thinking and thought forming skills.  As a conclusion to my topic and a summary of my research, the private prison system is corrupt, detrimental, and still on the decline.  Without major reformations, the entire system needs to be taken over by state governments.

Thanks for reading!

 

Implications of private prisons

Based on the research that I’ve done on private prisons, it is apparent that if nothing is done to reform them, there will be negative results in the incarceration system.  Studies performed on the growth of private prisons points to more and people being held in these facilities without a visible end.  This includes the immigrants that keep being funneled into the prisons.  Secondly, as the industry continues to grow, I think the problem with cutting corners on the worker compensation and amenities provided for the prisoners will continue to worsen.  Who’s to say that the amenities will be cut to an almost unlivable level.  Finally, if nothing is done to change the private prison system, and its influence continues to grow, I believe that these corporations will use their increased influence to  get more and more prisoners for less and less crimes.  They have already been documented paying judges to send kids to prison.  What else could they do if there is no reformation?

Private Prisons aren’t the only problem

This being my last weekly post, I’d like to use it as a medium to explain that more than private prison reform is necessary.  This article highlights the fact that private prisons have grown and definitely have negative implications.  It even said that phone calls are one dollar for every minute that a prisoner is talking on the phone.  So, private prisons are not getting any better as of now.  However, it is apparent that even if every private prison suddenly disappeared, the United States would still have the largest prison system in the world.  Also, as the private prison industry has grown, the public prison system has grown more:

private_prison_growth_to_2014

Articles such as this have lead to speculation that the initiatives made by Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton as candidates would not help the overall issue of the prison system.  There’s no doubt that candidates beginning to acknowledge the problem and try to make changes is a step in the right direction, however I believe that more needs to be done to fix the fact that the US has the largest prison system in the world.  The article mentioned above makes some great suggestions about more electronic monitoring and private probation services that would allow less non-violent criminals to be out of the prison system.

What do you think could be done to fix the US’s problem of mass incarceration?

Private Prison Theory: What can be done?

My most recent post, the analysis of private prisons, explained the two different sides of private prisons.  The two sides are very simple: those for private prisons and those against them.  I’d love to give my readers a two sided argument that shows what both sides can do to make a compromise, however it seems that private prisons simply need reformation in order justify their existence.

Primarily, I’d like to reference the website of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).  A statement pulled from their site:

At CCA, we are committed to operating facilities that benefit taxpayers, support economic growth, generate local tax revenue, and provide stable, well-paying jobs with advancement opportunities.

A mentioned in my previous post, almost every one of these “commitments” they mention has been severely refuted by numerous studies.  The only statement that can be supported is the fact that these prisons do provide jobs.  However, the “well-paying” portion may have to be removed as this article states that even workers’ salaries are subject cuts in an attempt to increase profits.  Basically, I believe that if private prisons actually attempt to accomplish these statements, they could be a beneficial aspect to the Judiciary system in the US.

Also, immigrants should not be handed over to private prisons.  The Obama administration has been funneling immigrants into these facilities and even is attempting to certify them as housing facilities.  It is immoral to take advantage of families, including innocent children, by using them as a means to gain money.  Perhaps, these companies could create facilities that actually deserve certification as housing units.  This way, the immigrants could be housed in actual, suitable facilities rather than prisons.

Finally, politicians should stop accepting campaign contributions from private prison groups until necessary reforms are made.  This step has already been taken by Hillary Clinton in her campaign.  If politicians ended the influence that private prisons are able to create, the corporations may make changes in order to receive financial aid/support.

Private prisons have a long way to go before they can be advocated as a beneficial aspect of the U.S. Judiciary system.  However, if reformations are made, I think they could provide valuable jobs to local citizens and offer the government aid with overcrowding.  Not to mention, if the immigrant housing was actually created, this could solve a major problem.  As of now, private prisons should be abolished.  However, with certain changes, or even state supervision, they could be an integral part of the U.S. Judiciary system.

 

Analysis of Private Prisons

Privatization of prisons in the U.S. began a few decades ago and has altered the prison system drastically in a relatively short period of time. More and more crimes have become punishable with incarceration, such as drug violations and petty theft. This has created an increased number of prisoners in the U.S. over the last few decades. In return, this has created a large prison system that allowed an opportunity for private institutions to step in and take a number of prisoners off the hands of the states for a profit. Since the creation of private prisons, prisoners have been turned over to private prisons to cut costs for state governments. However, there is inconclusive evidence that these are even more efficient. Questioning their effectiveness, today, there continues to be an increase in funds being dedicated to prison aid, even more than for education. All the while, these private institutions aim at the largest revenue possible, so basic amenities are reduced to a bare minimum. Even further, the influence of these institutions has grown to create a corrupt system that sends undeserving people into prison in order to maximize profits. The privatization of prisons has created a corrupt judicial system that treats human beings as commodities to be used for monetary gain.

According to The Sentencing Project, the number of prisoners in the United States has risen from around 400,000 in 1984 (when the first private prison was established) to around 1,500,000 in 2013. This would suggest that there is a correlation between the surge of private prisons and inmate population. This is supported by the fact that more crimes are being punished with incarceration than before. Even further, it has been found that some states, such as Arizona and Colorado, have made deals with their private prisons that they must keep their facilities at one hundred percent capacity. This is the type of corruption that private prisons create in the U.S. Another prime example of this type of corruption is from the Huffington Post. This article highlights a case where two judges in Pennsylvania received over 2.6 million dollars in a scandal where they were paid to send youths to prison for petty crimes. This shows how these institutions will do just about anything to get more prisoners in their facilities. With fraudulent actions such as these, there’s no wonder that the prison population has increased so much since the private prison industry took off.

As mentioned in the intro, private institutions have been known to purchase and take over prisons in towns that are suffering economically. These towns see this as an opportunity for immediate cash and instant jobs. However, one of these institutions has recently tried to purchase prisons from states and maintain them, with a catch. The states would be obligated to keep the facilities at ninety percent capacity at all times. This shows that these companies are not interested in helping the states or helping rehabilitate the inmates; they simply want to maximize their profits.

Surprisingly, the violent crime rate across the country has dropped over the last couple decades, while the number of prisoners continues to rise. How could this trend continue? According to Common Dreams, private institutions have been spending millions on lobbying for immigration laws to be made stricter, which would lead to more incarcerations, and increased profits. This has even lead to a quota being put on the number of immigrants in prisons at any given time.   What does this say about the intentions of these institutions? They are taking advantage of refugee families simply because the number of native prisoners has taken a dip in recent years. This is a primary example of how private prisons treat people simply as commodities rather then human beings.

According to the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison institution in the U.S., private prisons save taxpayer money by building faster, more efficiently, and running them more cost effectively.   However, there have been research projects in Arizona that point towards the contrary. As reported by the NY Times, inmates in private prisons can cost “up to $1,600 more per year.” Not only is there any solid evidence that private prisons are cheaper, but also they have received more state funding in recent years. The governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, has even made a plan that cut over $75 million from public universities, while making sure to leave over $5 million for a new private prison. This shows these prisons being made a higher priority than education. Additionally, Governor Ducey received $10,500 for his campaign from interest groups that are associated with private prisons. These institutions are using the money they make off of prisoners to influence legislation to further enhance their power and influence on politics.

Even if it was assumed that private prisons do, in fact, reduce costs (which is not proven), the means by which they reduce costs are negligent to the inmates. This article from Soc Theory explains how private prisons cut costs by lowering food rations and disregarding the quality of security. The consequences of malnutrition are obvious, but the cheap guards may be even worse. As guards’ pay gets cut, there has been a trend of more homicide within prisons, both on guards and among prisoners. This is because these guards don’t know what their doing or simply don’t care enough to do things the right way. So, even in the facilities that may be less expensive, the consequences of a cheaper operation are not worth the extra profit.

“In my view, corporations should not be allowed to make a profit by building more jails and keeping more Americans behind bars. We have got to end the private-for-profit prison racket in America.” This is a quote taken from Bernie Sanders’ press conference back in September. Sanders is the presidential candidate that represents the dissenting view on private prisons. Also, Hillary Clinton has campaigned against private prisons recently, saying that it is time to “end the era of mass incarceration.” These two candidates have made points out of this issue that corporations should not be allowed to make a profit out of jailing Americans (Sanders) and that jailing immigrants shouldn’t be focused on making a profit (Clinton). The main argument against private prisons is that incarceration of the American people (and immigrants) should not be based on how many people can be jailed in order to maximize revenue.

Some argue that private prisons are simply more cost effective, and that is why they should be used. However, there are too many reports that suggest the contrary for either side to be inconclusively declared true. So, assuming public and private prisons cost the same (which is largely contradicted), the best way to look at it is their effectiveness. Recent reports have stated that private prisons hold inmates 4 to 7% longer than public prisons.   Also, as stated previously, private prisons have been known to cut corners when it comes to facilities and workers.  Based on effectiveness and morality alone, private prisons continue to prove to be an inferior method of incarceration.

In conclusion, private prisons have no desire to improve the prison system or help states reduce the cost of inmates. They use their profits to influence politics in their favor in order to gain more opportunities to increase revenue. Even though violent crimes have been reduced, the prisons continue to get more inmates through corrupt means to take advantage of youths and immigrants. Also, once their quotas are reached, basic services are cut short at the expense of the inmates and workers. Moreover, states are beginning to spend more money to support these prisons rather than education. Private institutions do nothing to better the prison or judiciary system in the U.S. and need to be eliminated from the system.

Private Prisons to “child care facilities”?

This week, I found an article from the Huffington Post that speaks out against a recent movement by the Obama administration to turn private prisons into “licensed child care facilities.”  As many of you may think (I did), what would be the motive?  Apparently, refugee families are being detained in private prisons after they fled from Central and South America.

Since last summer, more and more of these refugees have been funneled into crowded private institutions by the U.S. government.  These facilities lack even the smallest comforts such as heating.  Mothers and their children are suffering from “poor health, weight loss, diarrhea, bed-wetting, and nightmares.”

This article was actually written yesterday in attempt to get out the word that the government is trying to license these facilities as “family residential centers.”  This is all coming up now because last year, a federal judge declared this type of detainment as a violation from a supreme court case known as Flores.  Basically, this just ensures that all detainment facilities must be “safe and sanitary.”    So, tomorrow, the Obama administration and the DHS will argue that these facilities should be licensed to allow them to continue this practice.  The argument will be made tomorrow.

I bring this up because it shows how these private prisons can be used as tools for anyone with money (even the government) to circumvent long-standing rules that could not be circumvented otherwise.  There are innocent children being held in prison.  If the ruling is overturned because of the arguments made tomorrow, then this will continue to grow and more people will be held in facilities that are worse than actual prisons.

What do you think about private prisons being used as prisons for refugee women and their children?

 

 

Private Influence

This week, I’m going to talk about the possible influences that large private institutions have on prison sentence severity.  While looking for more information on this article that covers this topic.  It highlights the corruption of the prison system caused by the desire of these companies to gain a profit.

As it stands right now, 1 in 100 Americans is in prison at any given time.  That’s significantly higher than 1980, even though the violent crime rate has declined since then.  So, how could that be?  More crimes must be warranting prison time than before.  With an increase in prisoners, it has become much more expensive for states to pay for the housing, food, etc of the prisoners.  As of this article, which was published in 2012, the CCA had proposed to 48 states an offering to purchase the public prisons and operate them for a cheaper amount than the states were.  But here’s the catch: the states would have to ensure an occupancy of over 1,000 people at all times.  With this contract pushing for more people to be sentenced to prison time, more and more crimes could end up garnering this punishment.  I plan on looking into this to see if the offer was ever accepted (I doubt it) and will let you all know with an update.

An example of this influence that private institutions have on the judicial system is found in the “kids for cash” scandal in Pennsylvania (2009).  Two judges were paid an excess of 2.6 million dollars to send first time offending teenagers to prison for misdemeanor crimes such as stealing DVD’s and trespassing in abandoned buildings.  Even though the two judges were eventual sent to prison for a combined 45.5 years, they ruined many teenagers lives.

Examples like these point me towards the conclusion that there is no objective for these private institutions other than to gain a profit.  The more I look into this subject, the more I believe that private prisons need to be abolished or reformed severely.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you all think about the influence of these private institutions on the judicial system.