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Ed Jewett
07-28-2010, 09:29 PM
Land Of The Free: Never In The Civilized World Have So Many Been Locked Up For So Little (http://cryptogon.com/?p=16682)

July 28th, 2010 And not a word about the profit incentive to lock people up!
America’s Private Gulag (http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=867) is over a decade old, but worth reading if you’re new to the concept of the prison industrial complex:
To be profitable, private prison firms must ensure that prisons are not only built but also filled. Industry experts say a 90-95 per cent capacity rate is needed to guarantee the hefty rates of return needed to lure investors. Prudential Securities issued a wildly bullish report on CCA a few years ago but cautioned, “It takes time to bring inmate population levels up to where they cover costs. Low occupancy is a drag on profits.” Still, said the report, company earnings would be strong if CCA succeeded in ramp(ing) up population levels in its new facilities at an acceptable rate”.
“(There is a) basic philosophical problem when you begin turning over administration of prisons to people who have an interest in keeping people locked up” notes Jenni Gainsborough of the ACLU’s National Prison Project.
Private prison companies have also begun to push, even if discreetly, for the type of get-tough policies needed to ensure their continued growth. All the major firms in the field have hired big-time lobbyists. When it was seeking a contract to run a halfway house in New York City, Esmor hired a onetime aide to State Representative Edolphus Towns to lobby on its behalf. The aide succeeded in winning the contract and also the vote of his former boss, who had been an opponent of the project. In 1995, Wackenhut Chairman Tim Cole testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge support for amendments to the Violent Crime Control Act — which subsequently passed — that authorized the expenditure of $10 billion to construct and repair state prisons.
CCA has been especially adept at expansion via political payoffs. The first prison the company managed was the Silverdale Workhouse in Hamilton County, Tennessee. After commissioner Bob Long voted to accept CCA’s bid for the project, the company awarded Long’s pest control firm a lucrative contract. When Long decided the time was right to quit public life, CCA hired him to lobby on its behalf. CCA has been a major financial supporter of Lamar Alexander, the former Tennessee governor and failed presidential candidate. In one of a number of sweetheart deals, Lamar’s wife, Honey Alexander, made more than $130,000 on a $5,000 investment in CCA. Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter is another CCA stockholder and is quoted in the company’s 1995 annual report as saying that “the federal government would be well served to privatize all of their corrections.”
In another ominous development, the revolving door between the public and private sector has led to the type of company boards that are typical of those found in the military-industrial complex. CCA co-founders were T. Don Hutto, an ex-corrections commissioner in Virginia, and Tom Beasley, a former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. A top company official is Michael Quinlan, once director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The board of Wackenhut is graced by a former Marine Corps commander, two retired Air Force generals and a former under secretary of the Air Force, as well as James Thompson, ex-governer of Illinois, Stuart Gerson, a former assistant US attorney general and Richard Staley, who previously worked with the INS.
More recently, Pennsylvania judges took bribes to send children to privately owned juvenile detention centers (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09035/946743-454.stm).
Books:
Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration by Tara Herival and Paul Wright (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1595584544/ref=nosim/cryptogoncom-20)
Perpetual Prisoner Machine: How America Profits From Crime by Joel Dyer (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0813338700/ref=nosim/cryptogoncom-20)
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1595581030/ref=nosim/cryptogoncom-20)
Via: The Economist (http://www.economist.com/node/16636027):
Justice is harsher in America than in any other rich country. Between 2.3m and 2.4m Americans are behind bars, roughly one in every 100 adults. If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under “correctional” supervision. As a proportion of its total population, America incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany and 12 times more than Japan. Overcrowding is the norm. Federal prisons house 60% more inmates than they were designed for. State lock-ups are only slightly less stuffed.
The system has three big flaws, say criminologists. First, it puts too many people away for too long. Second, it criminalises acts that need not be criminalised. Third, it is unpredictable. Many laws, especially federal ones, are so vaguely written that people cannot easily tell whether they have broken them.
In 1970 the proportion of Americans behind bars was below one in 400, compared with today’s one in 100.
Posted in Atrocities (http://cryptogon.com/?cat=18), Dictatorship (http://cryptogon.com/?cat=22), Economy (http://cryptogon.com/?cat=8), Elite (http://cryptogon.com/?cat=39), Outsourced (http://cryptogon.com/?cat=15), Police State (http://cryptogon.com/?cat=6)

[Administrators: I think this slides into the "in between" nature of this category, but move it if you think best.]