Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Expanding Prison/Industrial Complex

Two main items of interest in today's news as it relates to the growing Prison/Industrial Complex. First:

Cheney at an intelligence briefing, Oct 2008
A judge has yet to approve the indictment against Mr Cheney

A Texas grand jury has charged US Vice-President Dick Cheney for "organised criminal activity" related to alleged abuse of private prison inmates.

The indictment says Mr Cheney - who has invested $85m (£56m) in a company that holds shares in for-profit prisons - conspired to block an investigation.

The indictment has not been seen by a judge, who could dismiss it.

Hopefully it's only the first in a long line of indictments against Bush & Co., although everyone's expecting pardons- if not blanket pardons, at least for the worst offenders. And this is yet another indication of the corruption at the highest levels of our government. Of course he holds shares in private prisons, a business that's only set to become more profitable, says today's Wall Street Journal.

Prison companies are preparing for a wave of new business as the economic downturn makes it increasingly difficult for federal and state government officials to build and operate their own jails.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons and several state governments have sent thousands of inmates in recent months to prisons and detention centers run by Corrections Corp. of America, Geo Group Inc. and other private operators, as a crackdown on illegal immigration, a lengthening of mandatory sentences for certain crimes and other factors have overcrowded many government facilities.

Prison-policy experts expect inmate populations in 10 states to have increased by 25% or more between 2006 and 2011, according to a report by the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts.

[Fettered Growth]

Private prisons housed 7.4% of the country's 1.59 million incarcerated adults in federal and state prisons as of the middle of 2007, up from 1.57 million in 2006, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a crime-data-gathering arm of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Corrections Corp., the largest private-prison operator in the U.S., with 64 facilities, has built two prisons this year and expanded nine facilities, and it plans to finish two more in 2009. The Nashville, Tenn., company put 1,680 new prison beds into service in its third quarter, helping boost net income 14% to $37.9 million. "There is going to be a larger opportunity for us in the future," said Damon Hininger, Corrections Corp.'s president and chief operations officer, in a recent interview.

Some other surprising statistics from the land of the free:

  • The U.S. has less than 5% of the world's population, yet has more than 25% of the world's prisoners. [Wikipedia]
  • As a percentage of total population, the U.S. also has the largest imprisoned population, with 739 people per 100,000 serving time, awaiting trial or otherwise detained. [King's College]
  • The American prison population has quadrupled since 1980, partially as a result of mandated sentences that came about during the "war on drugs." [Wikipedia] Despite this, somehow drugs are still widely available.
Dissident voice reports that

Why is this happening? Inmates have become the raw material for a prison-industrial complex, shoring up perpetual profits for McJails. Corporate prisons are paid on a per-prisoner/per-day basis, and thus they lobby hard for longer mandatory sentences. Inmates also provide cheap labor, and they are about to become, once again, guinea pigs for pharmaceutical trials. All of this signals the conversion of people into valuable “bio-mass.”

Incarceration makes sense, politically. Prisons provide jobs to rural and small town Americans who would otherwise be unemployed. These workers and their families represent votes, especially in the South, where electoral majorities are White and electoral minorities are Black. The drug war is, in large part, a race war by other means.

Study after study documents the following: African Americans are disproportionately stopped and searched; African Americans are disproportionately arrested; African Americans are disproportionately charged; and African Americans are disproportionately convicted. And all felons are disenfranchised, never to vote again.

See why Bush & Co. loves private prisons? Put all those undesirables in jail, let em rot. If they get out, they're still not going to be voters, so who cares? In the meantime, you're providing jobs, AND you get a healthy dividend check.

For more information: American Gulag Project

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