We have touched on the issue of policing for a profit before: DUI Policing for Profit Explained. This concept is growing further in its reach and more dangerous in its effects. The issue is spreading because politicians and lawmakers don’t seem to have a problem with it and many actually benefit from it.
Now even prisons are being run by for-profit corporations, looking to run them with bare minimal expenses and maximize the number of inmates:
The Caging of America
New York, NY. Jan.30 — …(A) growing number of American prisons are now contracted out as for-profit businesses to for-profit companies. The companies are paid by the state, and their profit depends on spending as little as possible on the prisoners and the prisons. It’s hard to imagine any greater disconnect between public good and private profit: the interest of private prisons lies not in the obvious social good of having the minimum necessary number of inmates but in having as many as possible, housed as cheaply as possible. No more chilling document exists in recent American life than the 2005 annual report of the biggest of these firms, the Corrections Corporation of America. Here the company (which spends millions lobbying legislators) is obliged to caution its investors about the risk that somehow, somewhere, someone might turn off the spigot of convicted men:
Our growth is generally dependent upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage new correctional and detention facilities. . . . The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.
(Thanks to Attorney Lawrence Taylor for sharing this with us.)
As you can see there is a vested interest in making laws stricter to include more jail time. That is why these companies spend huge amounts of money lobbying legislators to get them more prisoners.
Maybe I’m old school but I don’t believe that corporate greed and criminal justice make a good combination. I’m interested in hearing what you guys think. Feel free to comment below.