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Sat Feb 4, 2012, 08:56 AM

The cynical world of America's private prisons [View all]

The cynical world of America's private prisons
A major factor in why US prisons are overflowing is the highly profitable privatised industry that has an incentive to fill them

Sadhbh Walshe
guardian.co.uk, Friday 3 February 2012

In the past few decades, changes in sentencing laws and get-tough-on-crime policies have led to an explosion in America's prison population. Funding this incarceration binge has been an enormous drain on taxpayer dollars, with some states now spending more to lock up their citizens than to provide their children with education. It's difficult to spin anything positive out of that scenario, but as it turns out, even this blackest of clouds has a silver lining silver as in dollars, that is, for the private prison industry.

In 2010, two of the largest private prison companies in America, GEO Group, Inc and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) generated over $4bn dollars in profit between them. Their respective CEOs, George Zoley and Damon Hininger, each earned well in excess of $3m in 2010. Although there have been some concerns that any relaxation of sentencing or drug laws might negatively impact their bottom line (profit), they remain confident in their ability to drum up new ways of generating their taxpayer-funded commodities (also known as inmates): lobbying California for their excess prisoners being one; caging juveniles on trivial charges another. But the favorite, by a long shot, is the accelerated drive to lock up America's immigrants.

So far, these strategies seem to be working nicely. In their 2011 third-quarter earnings report, the GEO group proudly announced an increase in profits from the previous year. This joyous news can be at least partially attributed to changes in immigration law, particularly in states like Arizona and Oklahoma, which allow for, among other things, the indefinite detention of illegal immigrants, including those whose asylum proceedings are underway. The majority of immigrants who are picked up by law enforcement officials, mostly on civil charges, like being caught with a broken tail light for instance, will end up in privately run prisons. In many of these facilities, they will be charged $5 per minute to call their loved ones, whilst earning $1 per day for their labor, from which the corporation running the facility will profit.

According to an investigation by NPR, in 2008, two men, allegedly from CCA, showed up in a small Arizona town, close to the Mexican border to pitch the construction of a new prison specifically to house women and children who were illegal immigrants. Local officials were not convinced that the prison could be kept full, but that is, perhaps, because they were unaware that, at the time, CCA was one of the key groups involved in drafting and promoting the Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (which requires police to lock up anyone who cannot prove they came to the US legally), under the auspices of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which specializes in model legislation. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/feb/03/cynical-world-americas-private-prisons

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marmar Feb 2012 OP
Solly Mack Feb 2012 #1
CrispyQ Feb 2012 #2
marmar Feb 2012 #3
CrispyQ Feb 2012 #4
saras Feb 2012 #5
RainDog Feb 2012 #6
fasttense Feb 2012 #7