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Magda Hassan
02-14-2009, 12:29 PM
I can only feel utter disgust at the actions of these abusive corrupt men.


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US judges admit taking kickbacks


http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45473000/jpg/_45473352_judge_ap226b.jpg The judges face sentences of more than seven years

Two US judges charged with taking more than $2m (£1.4m) in kickbacks from a privately-run detention centre have pleaded guilty to fraud.
Prosecutors say Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took the money in return for giving young offenders long sentences to serve in the centre.
The deal allowed PA Child Care LLC and a sister company to receive extra government funds, they say.
The judges in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, have both been suspended.
They have pleaded guilty to honest services fraud and tax fraud.
The plea agreements provide for prison sentences of more than seven years.
Mr Conahan had shut down a county detention centre in 2002 and signed a deal with PA Child Care LLC to send offenders to its new centre, prosecutors say.
They said Mr Ciavarella sent youths to the detention centre while taking money in return, though the judge has specifically denied sending youths to jail for cash, the Associated Press news agency reports.
'Disgraced'
Campaigners have complained that Mr Ciavarella gave out overly harsh sentences for minor offenses.
A spokeswoman for the non-profit Juvenile Law Center said 1,000-2,000 juveniles who came before the judge between 2003 and 2006 received excessively harsh sentences.
Many of the children were first-time offenders and had no lawyers to defend them.
The judge sent a quarter of his juvenile defendants to detention centres from 2003 to 2006, compared with a state average of one in 10, the AP reported.
"Your statement that I have disgraced my judgeship is true," Mr Ciavarella wrote in a letter to the court, Reuters news agency reports.
"My actions have destroyed everything I worked to accomplish and I have only myself to blame."
Mr Conahan made no comment.

Kate Story
02-14-2009, 07:27 PM
What the hell is this? Why such an epidemic of child abuse and by men who are in such positions of power? Why is this allowed and why do most people turn a blind eye? What kind of damn monsters do we have running this country? What kind of adult could even think of harming a child in such dispicable ways? When these people are charged and convicted most of them get barely a slap on the wrists and remain free to continue on. Why the hell are pedophiles even released back into society at all? Why are so many powerful men, preists and christian clergy raping children? My god, what kind of world is this?

Charles Drago
02-14-2009, 08:49 PM
Kate,

The ultimate thirst is spiritual in nature.

Especially for the materially wealthy, the addiction to the acquisition of power cannot be sated. And so these demons turn inward to the darkness and begin to consume that which cannot be quantified.

The equation is ancient: you become what you consume. To acquire cunning and bravery, eat the heart of a wolf. To re-acquire youth and vigor ...

Before we can stop them, we must know them.

CD

Kate Story
02-14-2009, 09:52 PM
Kate,

The ultimate thirst is spiritual in nature.

Especially for the materially wealthy, the addiction to the acquisition of power cannot be sated. And so these demons turn inward to the darkness and begin to consume that which cannot be quantified.

The equation is ancient: you become what you consume. To acquire cunning and bravery, eat the heart of a wolf. To re-acquire youth and vigor ...

Before we can stop them, we must know them.

CD

To re-acquire youth and vigor ... ???? Do these perverted assholes ever look into a mirror? Most of them look like the portrait of Dorian Gray. Oh, to be invisable and armed with a cast iron baseball bat.

Charles Drago
02-15-2009, 12:08 AM
I'll provide the Louisville Sluggers.

Of course these guys use baseball bats in very odd ways ...

They give "choke up" a whole new meaning.

Magda Hassan
02-15-2009, 12:14 AM
One can only wonder how much this happens in the adult population also. The figures could be higher and better hidden. If some one has already been before the courts no one is going to look twice if they end up in prison. A private for profit prison.

Kate Story
02-15-2009, 03:12 AM
One can only wonder how much this happens in the adult population also. The figures could be higher and better hidden. If some one has already been before the courts no one is going to look twice if they end up in prison. A private for profit prison.

I agree, and how many people would even care? Aside from the obvious victims, who would even believe it?


U.S. Prisons Are Slave Labor Factories


http://educate-yourself.org/cn/prisonslavefactories25jul05.shtml
July 25, 2005
Forward courtesy of Rick Stanley
History teaches us that slavery was abolished in the United States after the Civil War. History has taught us wrong. Slavery was never abolished in the United States. Go ahead, take a look at the Constitution. The 13th Amendment reads as follows: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted shall exist within the United States." That means that if you've been convicted of a crime, you are legally allowed to be a slave.
The prison industrial complex is big business in this country, and the U.S. government and corporations are reaping the rewards. Private companies are not only operating prisons but are also using prisoners as workers without paying wages, a practice known as slavery. The largest private prison operator is called Correction Corporations of America; it operates over 30 prisons nationwide (a number that will soon double when every state prison in Tennessee goes private).
Prison bonds provide a lucrative return for capitalist investors. The following are just a fraction of the companies using slave labor: IBM, Motorola, Compaq, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Microsoft, Boeing, Revlon, Chevron, TWA, Victoria's Secret, Eddie Bauer, K-mart, J.C. Penny, and McDonald's. Products bought by the U.S government are bought from UNICOR, which is the trade name for Federal Prisons Industries. Yes, prisoners even build desks for members of Congress. UNICOR proudly displays on its web site that it is "where the government shops first." This isn't about making the streets safe; it's about money and a never-ending supply of cheap labor.
State corrections agencies are advertising their prisoners to the corporations: "Are you experiencing high employee turnover? Worried about the costs of employee benefits? Unhappy with out-of-state or offshore suppliers? Getting hit by overseas competition? Having trouble motivating your workforce? Thinking about expansion space? Then Washington State Department of Corrections Private Sector Partnerships is for you." When Reagan became president, there were 400,000 prisoners in the United States. Today the number stands at over 2 million. Before you start thinking about those "violent" people, listen to some facts: In federal prisons, only 2.4 percent of the prisoners are there for violent crimes.
It took 150 years for California to build 10 state prisons. But the state has built 21 prisons in the last 10 years alone (only one state university has been built in that time) and this trend isn't stopping.
With the three strikes law in effect, the state estimates it will have to build 20 more prisons over the next 10 years. Where does racism come into view? Seventy percent of those being sentenced under the three strikes law in California are people of color. And nationally, 39 percent of African American men in their 20s are in prison, on probation, or on parole. White people make up 82 percent of the nation's population, yet prisons house 72 percent people of color. What we need to do is wake up and realize that there aren't 2 million people in prison to "make the country safe." They're there to provide a service - their labor. Let's call them what they are: slaves.

Kate Story
02-15-2009, 03:14 AM
I'll provide the Louisville Sluggers.

Of course these guys use baseball bats in very odd ways ...

They give "choke up" a whole new meaning.

I was happy with my thoughts on this subject and you just stopped them dead in their tracks.

Charles Drago
02-15-2009, 04:27 AM
I'll provide the Louisville Sluggers.

Of course these guys use baseball bats in very odd ways ...

They give "choke up" a whole new meaning.

I was happy with my thoughts on this subject and you just stopped them dead in their tracks.

Was that a kindness or an inconvenience?

Peter Lemkin
02-17-2009, 07:35 PM
It is SO conforting to know that the judiciary are just, the system works, things happen as they should in a just world, there are checks and balances and if you have any money I have a nice bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan to sell you!......


AMY GOODMAN: An unprecedented case of judicial corruption is unfolding in Pennsylvania. Several hundred families have filed a class-action lawsuit against two former judges who have pleaded guilty to taking bribes in return for placing youths in privately owned jails. Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are said to have received $2.6 million for ensuring that juvenile suspects were jailed in prisons operated by the companies Pennsylvania Child Care and a sister company, Western Pennsylvania Child Care. Some of the young people were jailed over the objections of their probation officers. An estimated 5,000 juveniles have been sentenced by Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2002.

In addition to the jailing of the youths, the judges also admitted to helping “facilitate” the construction of private jails. The US attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Martin Carlson, unveiled the charges last month.

MARTIN CARLSON: These payments were made to the judges, it is alleged, in return for discretionary acts by the judges favoring these businesses, acts relating to the construction, expansion, operation of these juvenile facilities and acts relating to the placement of juveniles in these facilities.


AMY GOODMAN: On Thursday, Judges Ciavarella and Conahan entered guilty pleas on charges of wire fraud and income tax fraud. They’re currently free on a $1 million bail bond pending sentencing. Their plea agreements call for jail sentences of more than seven years. No charges have been filed against the private prisons that paid the bribes.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has appointed an outside judge to review all the cases tried by Ciavarella and Conahan. But the case has prompted calls for broader reforms of the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania and nationwide.

We’re joined now by two of the thousands of youths jailed by the corrupt judges. On the line with us from Scranton, Pennsylvania, eighteen-year-old Jamie Quinn is with us. She spent more than eleven months in a privately run juvenile prison camp after being sentenced by Judge Mark Ciavarella as a first-time offender. Also on the line in the nearby town of Wilkes-Barre is twenty-two-year-old Kurt Kruger. Another first-time offender, he spent more than four months in a privately run prison—juvenile prison camp after also being sentenced by Judge Ciavarella.

And joining us in a studio in Philadelphia is Bob Schwartz. He is a co-founder and executive director of the Juvenile Law Center, which helped expose the corrupt judges and is now involved in the class-action suit brought on behalf of the jailed youths’ families.

We asked PA Child Care, the main private jail company linked to the bribes, to come on the broadcast. We were directed to an attorney who didn’t respond to our request.

Bob Schwartz, let’s start with you. When did all this begin to be revealed? How did it all happen?

BOB SCHWARTZ: Thanks, Amy, and thanks for having Kurt, Jamie and me on your show.

This has been going on, we believe, in Luzerne County since 2003. It came to Juvenile Law Center’s attention a couple of years ago, when we heard from the mother of one of the girls whom we ended up representing, a young woman named Hillary Transue, who was brought into court, found guilty, sent away for an internet parody of an assistant principal at her high school. Her mother found us, and when we were able to bring a habeas corpus petition on Hillary’s behalf, she told our attorneys that she wasn’t the only one who had been locked up by Judge Ciavarella, that there were lots of other kids in the same situation. That was a couple of years ago.

And we began investigating and found that Luzerne County had half of the waivers of counsel in Pennsylvania of all the cases in which lawyers were waived by young people in juvenile court. Hillary had, unknown to her, signed a paper, her mother had signed a paper, giving up her right to a lawyer. That made the 90-second hearing that she had in front of Judge Ciavarella pretty much of a kangaroo court. So, she was sent away. We investigated and last year, about a year ago, brought a petition before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court asking them to take a look at all of the cases in which kids were tried and adjudicated delinquent and many sent away without a lawyer. We thought that was the problem. That turned out to be the tip of the iceberg. When we filed, it turned out that the FBI began its investigation and found the corruption that you spoke about at the top of this segment.

AMY GOODMAN: And just very briefly, Hillary—explain what she did. A cartoon?

BOB SCHWARTZ: She had done a—I think a MySpace parody of her—of an assistant principal, a paragraph or two, with internet humor of an adolescent variety, finishing by saying, “I hope that Mrs. Smith”—or Jones—“has a sense of humor.” It turned out that the assistant principal didn’t, we gather, at least, complained to the police, who filed a harassment petition against Hillary. This is the kind of case, like Kurt’s and like Jamie’s, that never should have been in court in the first place, let alone get to a trial. Juvenile court is not designed for this kind of adolescent misbehavior. The cases should have been diverted entirely. Instead, Hillary and Kurt and Jamie and thousands of others were used by the court for profit, while many people over many years stood by watching.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to Jamie Quinn right now. Jamie, welcome to Democracy Now!

JAMIE QUINN: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Are you speaking to us from your house?

JAMIE QUINN: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you were in jail for almost a year. Where were you imprisoned? What was the name of this juvenile prison camp?

JAMIE QUINN: Well, first, I was told that I was only going to be at PA Child Care for up to three days. I was there for a week and then got sent to a military boot camp called VisionQuest in Quincy Township. It’s about an hour and a half away. And I spent most of my time there. And then I got FTA’ed from there and sent to—back to PA Child Care—

AMY GOODMAN: And “FTA’ed” means…?

JAMIE QUINN: Failure to adjust. And then I got sent back to PA Child Care, was there for about two weeks, because they said they couldn’t find a bed for me, and they didn’t know like where to place me. And then I went to a step-down program. They told me I needed to go there in order to be able to go back into the community. And I went to Wilkes-Barre, a place in Wilkes-Barre which is called Bridgeview.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, just step back for a second, Jamie.

JAMIE QUINN: OK.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us why you were convicted.

JAMIE QUINN: Well, I was about fourteen years old, and I got into an argument with one of my friends. And all that happened was just a basic fight. She slapped me in the face, and I did the same thing back. There was no marks, no witnesses, nothing. It was just her word against my word. My only charges were simple assault and harassment. And I didn’t even know that charges were pressed against me until I had to go down to the intake and probation and fill out a whole bunch of paperwork.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait. So that is what you went to jail for almost a year for?

JAMIE QUINN: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: How old were you?

JAMIE QUINN: I was fourteen, turning fifteen, and my court hearing was December 20th, three days before my birthday.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break. Then we’re going to come back, and we’re going to hear Kurt’s story, Kurt Kruger, who was also imprisoned by one of these corrupt judges for more than four months. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about the case of two judges who have pled guilty to receiving $2.6 million in return for placing youths in privately owned jails. Today, we’re speaking with two of those youths. Jamie Quinn just told us her story. We now turn to Kurt Kruger.

Kurt, tell us how you ended up in one of these privately run juvenile prison camps for more than four months. How did you get there?

KURT KRUGER: Well, first off, thank you for having us.

Basically, I was with a girl who was shoplifting DVDs from a Wal-Mart, local Wal-Mart, and we were caught, and I was considered the lookout. And it was basically just stupid kid stuff. The police came to the Wal-Mart and then called our parents. A week after this happened at Wal-Mart, they sent us letters that we were to appear in the probation office for interviews so they could decide court dates. And I then, after that interview, moved out of my father’s house because of personal problems. And at some point, a appearance in court did come to my house, a letter did come to my house, but I had no contact with my father, so I had no idea. The only idea I had of anything that was going on was that the girl who I was with, who was actually the one shoplifting, never received a letter of a court appearance or anything, never heard anything else about the case. So I thought that it was done and over with.

I was living with a friend for awhile, and I started going to school in the fall. I was eighteen at the time when I started going to school. I was seventeen when the incident occurred at Wal-Mart. I was in school one day, and I was called up to the probation officer’s office in the school, and there was a police officer there waiting for me, and he handcuffed me and led me out of the school and put me in the squad car and drove me up to PA Child Care in Pittston.

Since it was a Friday, I had to wait over the weekend to go in front of Judge Ciavarella, so I spent three days in PA Child Care, thinking the entire time that I screwed up but I was just going to get probation, at the worst. And I was then sentenced in a 90-second hearing. I was sentenced to Camp Adams for a minimum of ninety days. And I was never offered a lawyer, never explained my rights to a lawyer or what benefits it would have. I was just sent away to Camp Adams for at least ninety days, and I spent the better part of four-and-a-half months there.

AMY GOODMAN: And tell us about the judge, Mark Ciavarella, who sent you there and your reaction when you heard that he pled guilty.

KURT KRUGER: Shock, I guess. I mean, it was expected that he was going to plead guilty for this last week, but when all of this first started coming up, it was just absolute shock, because I had thought that I had just gotten a raw deal, that, you know, maybe possibly he was in a bad mood that day or something. I had never thought that the scope and the scale of this entire—of this entire investigation and what has come of it.

AMY GOODMAN: How old were you when you went to jail?

KURT KRUGER: I was eighteen at the time.

AMY GOODMAN: Jamie, how did going to jail for almost a year, after your fight with your friend—how did that affect your life?

JAMIE QUINN: It affected me dramatically. I mean, you know, you think it wouldn’t, but it really has. I mean, I’ve lost friends over this. People looked at me different when I came out, thought I was a bad person, because I was gone for so long. My family started splitting up, and in my personal opinion, I think it’s because I was away and got locked up and was, I thought, getting, you know, punished for what I had did, which I don’t think I should have.

And I was just—I’m still struggling in school, because the schooling system in facilities like these places are just horrible. Everybody gets put in the same level, and it’s just horrible. I’m still struggling. I’m graduating this year. And math is still not my favorite subject. I was like an A-B student before I went, and now I’m just struggling with Bs and Cs.

AMY GOODMAN: You began cutting yourself in jail?

JAMIE QUINN: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you think you started doing that?

JAMIE QUINN: Honestly, I never even—like I was never—I didn’t even know what it was until I was sent to VisionQuest. And I was never depressed, I was never put on meds before. I went there, and they just started putting meds on me, and I didn’t even know what they were. They said if I didn’t take them, I wasn’t following my program. So, in my opinion, I think that it was the meds at the time. I mean, I was never medicated in my life nor diagnosed with depression. And that’s what I believe happened.

AMY GOODMAN: You were sent to the hospital three times—

JAMIE QUINN: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —during that almost year?

JAMIE QUINN: Yeah, Chambersburg Hospital.

AMY GOODMAN: Bob Schwartz, the plan now, and how much representation do young people have in Pennsylvania?

BOB SCHWARTZ: Well, in most Pennsylvania counties, almost all kids have a lawyer all the time. Pennsylvania law requires all youth to have a lawyer at the time of the first hearing before a detention officer to a judge at every subsequent hearing. Pennsylvania has granted kids, in many ways, more rights to lawyers than many states.

On the other hand, in Luzerne County, that was a right that was largely ignored. Lawyers doing their job would get in the way of this railroad from the bar or the court to Pennsylvania Child Care and other placements that was taking place in Luzerne County at the time. One of the things that we hope that will come out of this is that it will be much harder for any youth to appear before any judge without a lawyer in this state.

Meanwhile, there are several proceedings that are happening at the same time. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has finally agreed to hear the case. They took the case after the US attorney acted at the end of January, and there will now be an examination of all 5,000 or so cases that took place in Luzerne County from 2003 forward. There are also going to be multiple civil rights actions in federal court in Scranton, going after not only the judges but others who conspired with them to hurt kids like Jamie and Kurt. What happened to them should never happen to a child in the United States of America.

AMY GOODMAN: And the role of the police in the schools, very briefly, in this, Bob Schwartz?

BOB SCHWARTZ: Well, the police were ordered to make an arrest. You know, it really varies in so many ways. They were obviously told in Kurt’s case to bring him to court, because there was a court warrant issued, because he had failed to appear for a hearing that he didn’t know about. They might have acted differently, but certainly the probation department and the court should have acted differently. The probation department was intimidated by the judges. They are court employees. And one of the things that the information of the US attorney claims is that Judge Ciavarella and Judge Conahan had probation officers change their recommendations, ordered them to change their recommendations, in order to make sure that they had enough kids to fill slots at these childcare facilities.

AMY GOODMAN: And the childcare facilities themselves? They paid the bribes.

BOB SCHWARTZ: They paid, and the federal proceedings will bring to light what their role actually was. Right now, they have not been charged criminally, but they are inevitably a defendant in every civil rights proceeding.

AMY GOODMAN: So, we’re talking about 5,000 kids like Jamie, like Kurt. How much jail time do these judges face?

BOB SCHWARTZ: They’ve pled and are expecting to get eighty-seven months in federal prison. That’s a little more than seven years, if the judge accepts the plea bargain.

AMY GOODMAN: Jamie, how do you feel about that?

JAMIE QUINN: It just makes me really question other authority figures and people that we’re supposed to look up to and trust. I mean, Ciavarella has been a judge for a long time, from what I know, and a well-respected one, is what I thought. And obviously not. It just really makes me question and not trust other people. I mean, if someone like Judge Ciavarella could do this, then it makes me believe that anyone can betray the law and—I don’t know.

AMY GOODMAN: And Kurt, your final comment?

KURT KRUGER: Well, basically, I just want to say that finally there’s some sort of closure, for me, at least, coming from the lawsuits from the Juvenile Law Center. There’s at least a little bit of closure for me, and I hope that’s the same case for everyone who’s involved.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Kurt Kruger and Jamie Quinn, thanks so much for being with us, and Bob Schwartz, as well. I want to turn now to the commentary that alerted us to this story, of Mumia Abu-Jamal. He’s been on Pennsylvania’s death row for more than twenty-five years.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: “With Judges Like These.” In Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County, there are nine judges of the Court of Common Pleas. Two of them just pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to convict and sentence juveniles to a private prison, so that they could get kickbacks from the prisons’ builders and owners. According to published accounts, Judge Mark A. Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael T. Conahan sent hundreds of boys and girls to the private facility and pocketed some $2.5 million in kickbacks. This was accomplished not merely because of the venal greed of the judges, but because virtually none of the children were provided with legal representation.

When the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center filed a petition in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, calling the county’s practice of adjudicating and sentencing some 250 kids to jail without legal representation unconstitutional, the state’s highest court denied the petition on January 8th. A month later, they changed their minds, vacating the denial. What transpired in the interim? Well, for one thing, the two judges pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire service fraud. Hundreds of children get sucked into jail after clearly unconstitutional proceedings with no legal representation, and the state supreme court doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. The media reports on this outrage, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court expresses a little interest.

This is the nature of judging these days, when even kids are expendable fodder for the prison-industrial complex. Luzerne County is the state’s tenth largest county with just over 300,000 souls. At least 22 percent of their judges have admitted being corrupt in the sordid business of selling the freedom of poor children for profit.

From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.


AMY GOODMAN: And we thank the Prison Radio Project in San Francisco and Noel Hanrahan.

Peter Lemkin
03-06-2009, 10:41 AM
[Obviously, when $$$ is involved, even those held high in the social ladder of society [sic], such as Judges, are fallen. No surprise to me...only that they did it to children! Is there nothing sacred in America in pursuit of money?!? Answer: Apparently NOT! The Industrial Prison Complex is very sinister and would like to expand to encompass the majority of the population into concentration camps for profit and control..........coming to a location near you soon!]

The Proceeds of Crime

by George Monbiot / March 3rd, 2009

It’s a staggering case; more staggering still that it has scarcely been mentioned on this side of the ocean. Last week two judges in Pennsylvania were convicted of jailing some 2,000 children in exchange for bribes from private prison companies.

Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan sent children to jail for offenses so trivial that some of them weren’t even crimes. A 15-year-old called Hillary Transue got three months for creating a spoof web page ridiculing her school’s assistant principal. Mr. Ciavarella sent Shane Bly, then 13, to boot camp for trespassing in a vacant building. He gave 14- year-old, Jamie Quinn, 11 months in prison for slapping a friend during an argument, after the friend slapped her. The judges were paid $2.6 million by companies belonging to the Mid Atlantic Youth Services Corp for helping to fill its jails.1 This is what happens when public services are run for profit.

It’s an extreme example, but it hints at the wider consequences of the trade in human lives created by private prisons. In the US and the UK they have a powerful incentive to ensure that the number of prisoners keeps rising.

The United States is more corrupt than the UK, but it is also more transparent. There the lobbyists demanding and receiving changes to judicial policy might be exposed, and corrupt officials identified and prosecuted. The UK, with a strong tradition of official secrecy and a weak tradition of scrutiny and investigative journalism, has no such safeguards.

The corrupt judges were paid by the private prisons not only to increase the number of child convicts but also to shut down a competing prison run by the public sector. Taking bribes to bang up kids might be novel; shutting public facilities to help private companies happens — on both sides of the water — all the time.

The Wall Street Journal has shown how, as a result of lobbying by the operators, private jails in Mississippi and California are being paid for non-existent prisoners.2 The prison corporations have been guaranteed a certain number of inmates. If the courts fail to produce enough convicts, they get their money anyway. This outrages taxpayers in both states, which have cut essential public services to raise these funds. But there is a simple means of resolving this problem: you replace ghost inmates with real ones. As the Journal, seldom associated with raging anti-capitalism, observes, “prison expansion [has] spawned a new set of vested interests with stakes in keeping prisons full and in building more. . . . The result has been a financial and political bazaar, with convicts in stripes as the prize.”3

Even as crime declines, lawmakers are pressed by their sponsors to increase the rate of imprisonment. The US has, by a very long way, the world’s highest proportion of people behind bars: 756 prisoners per 100,000 people, or just over 1% of the adult population.4 Similarly wealthy countries have around one-tenth of this rate of imprisonment.

Like most of its really bad ideas, the last Conservative government imported private jails from the US. As Stephen Nathan, author of a forthcoming book about prison privatization in the UK, has shown, the notion was promoted by the Select Committee on Home Affairs, which in 1986 visited prisons run by the Corrections Corporation of America. When the corporation told them that private provision in the US improved prison standards and delivered good value for money, the committee members failed to check its claims. They recommended that the government should put the construction and management of prisons out to tender “as an experiment.”5

Encouraged by the committee’s report, the Corrections Corporation of America set up a consortium in Britain with two Conservative party donors, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd and John Mowlem & Co, to promote privately financed prisons over here. The first privately-run prison in the UK, Wolds, was opened by the Danish security company Group 4 in 1992. In 1993, before it had had a chance to evaluate this experiment, the government announced that all new prisons would be built and run by private companies.

The Labour party, then in opposition, was outraged. John Prescott promised that, “Labour will take back private prisons into public ownership — it is the only safe way forward.”6 Jack Straw stated that, “it is not appropriate for people to profit out of incarceration. This is surely one area where a free market certainly does not exist.” He too promised to “bring these prisons into proper public control and run them directly as public services.”7

But during his first seven weeks in office, Jack Straw renewed one private prison contract and launched two new ones. A year later he announced that all new prisons in England and Wales would be built and run by private companies, under the private finance initiative (PFI). Today the UK has a higher proportion of prisoners in private institutions than the US.8 This is the only country in Europe whose jails are run on this model.

So has prison privatization here influenced judicial policy? As we discovered during the recent lobbying scandal in the House of Lords, there’s no way of knowing. Unlike civilized nations, the UK has no register of lobbyists; we are not even entitled to know which lobbyists ministers have met.9 But there are some clues. The former home secretary, John Reid, previously in charge of prison provision, has become a consultant to the private prison operator G4S.10 The government is intending to commission a series of massive Titan jails under PFI. Most experts on prisons expect them to be disastrous, taking inmates further away from their families (which reduces the chances of rehabilitation) and creating vast warrens in which all the social diseases of imprisonment will fester. Only two groups want them built: ministers and the prison companies: they offer excellent opportunities to rack up profits. And the very nature of PFI, which commits the government to paying for services for 25 or 30 years whether or not they are still required creates a major incentive to ensure that prison numbers don’t fall. The beast must be fed.

And there’s another line of possible evidence. In the two countries whose economies most resemble the UK’s — Germany and France — the prison population has risen quite slowly. France has 96 inmates per 100,000 people, an increase of 14% since 1992. Germany has 89 prisoners per 100,000: 25% more than in 1992 but 9% less than in 2001. But the UK now locks up 151 out of every 100,000 inhabitants: 73% more than in 1992 and 20% more than in 2001. Yes our politicians have barely come down from the trees, yes we are still governed out of the offices of the Daily Mail, but it would be foolish to dismiss the likely influence of the private prison industry.

This revolting trade in human lives creates a permanent incentive to lock people up; not because prison works; not because it makes us safer, but because it makes money. Privatization appears to have locked this country into mass imprisonment.


Amy Goodman, “How Two Former PA Judges Got Millions in Kickbacks to Send Juveniles to Private Prisons,” Democracy Now!, 17th February 2009; “Bad judges: the lowest of the low,” The Economist, 26th February 2009; Stephanie Chen, “Pennsylvania rocked by ‘jailing kids for cash’ scandal,” CNN, February 24, 2009. [?]
Bryan Gruley, “Prison Building Spree Creates Glut of Lockups,” Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2001; Joseph T. Hallinan, “Going Backwards,” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2001. [?]
Bryan Gruley, ibid. [?]
The total prison population at the end of 2007 (see above) was 2,293,157. The most recent figure for the adult population I can find — 217.8 million — was produced by the US Census Bureau in 2004. [?]
Stephen Nathan, 2003. Prison Privatization in the United Kingdom. Published in Capitalist Punishment: Prison Privatization & Human Rights. Clarity Press, Inc., Atlanta. [?]
John Prescott, 1994, quoted by Stephen Nathan, ibid. [?]
Jack Straw, 8th March 1995, quoted by Stephen Nathan, ibid. [?]
7.2% in the US, 11% in the UK. [?]
The Committee on Standards in Public Life, cited by the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, 5th January 2009. Lobbying: Access and influence in Whitehall. Volume I, para 187. [?]
”G4S Appoints John Reid As Group Consultant,” Security Oracle, 18th December 2008. [?]

http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2009/03/the-proceeds-of-crime/

Magda Hassan
03-06-2009, 11:35 AM
Take the profit out of prisons and war and they'll come up with a better alternative. Only a fraction of the people in prison actually really need to be there. Most need drug addiction management, more education, more employment opportunities, psychiatric care not prison.

David Guyatt
03-06-2009, 11:52 AM
Oh dear, Monbiot and his muddled media mathematics.


The US has, by a very long way, the world’s highest proportion of people behind bars: 756 prisoners per 100,000 people, or just over 1% of the adult population.4

When I was at school, 1% of 100,000 was 1,000.

But I do note the rider he adds i.e., “adult population”. But why use this stat if it is as meaningless as it is? I thought that accurate journalism was alive in certain hands - albeit not the Guardian, it seems.

But for all that, it is an important piece. And the rowth of private prisons in the Uk is awful.

I also notice that Gordo’s long touted “Public Finance Initiative” (i.e., Public-Private Partnerships) is now in dire straight. The PFI is where the state hands over nice, juicy and highly lucrative contracts to the private sector to build prisons, hospitals etc - on the condition that the private sector finance the work and, thereafter, reap the rewards for ever and ever. But the banking crisis means that the government is now having to step into to finance the work as the private sector cannot (it says) raise the finance. But, of course, the private sector will non-the-less continue to reap the “for ever after” rewards.

In other words another case where the government hands over the taxpayers money to the private sector in exchange for sweet fuck all. At least as far as I can see anyway.

Nice one Gordo.