Prisons are Big Business in the US

by Rachel Baker on October 3, 2013

The Nation has a VERY informative article about the nature of our prison system and how much money it actually brings in as a business.

Global Tel* Link is one of five companies profiled in a new video series called “Prison Profiteers,” a collaboration between Beyond Bars—a Brave New Films project—the ACLU, and The Nation. With 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, prisons are big business; the goal of the series is to expose the myriad ways people enrich themselves off crime and punishment. Defenders of for-profit prison services pitch them as superior, efficient, money-saving options for cash-strapped states and localities that can ill-afford the costs of mass incarceration. (And indeed, historically, state-run services have often proven abysmal in themselves.) But not only do such privatized services often end up more expensive in reality, they can incur huge unseen costs to inmates and their families.

Worse still are the implications on a larger scale: when corporations seek to profit from prisons, it creates a powerful financial incentive, not just to push for policies that fuel mass incarceration but to cut corners in the services they’ve been hired to provide. Society shows little concern for prisoners who might receive substandard food, phone service or healthcare behind bars, after all. In the prison equation, the real consumer is the state, whose own financial priorities often run counter to the needs of prisoners and their families.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: