Pay no attention to the profit-seekers; private prisons are a bad deal for taxpayers

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Recently, private prison corporations like the Corrections Corporation of America have been urging states to sell them their prisons under the promise that the private sector can administer them better and cheaper. But looking at a recent study out of Arizona, these prison corporations aren’t living up to their promise. According to the Tucson Citizen, private prison contracts are actually costing taxpayers $3.5 million more per year than if the state just ran their own prisons.

But beyond being a bad deal economically, private for-profit prisons are bad for our freedom. By injecting the profit-motive into incarceration, then there’s incentives to lock more and more Americans up. Which is why for-profit prisons use groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council – or ALEC – to lobby for stricter drug and immigration laws to throw more people in prisons, and thus collect bigger profits.

This is one of many dangerous side effects to unfettered corporate capitalism, it turns everything into a commidity.

Thom Hartmann Administrator's picture
Thom Hartmann A...
Dec. 29, 2009 9:59 am


Here's one reason private prisons are a bad idea.

Jun. 29, 2012 9:24 am

Another problem with for-profit prisons is the situation where inmates serving long sentences are rewarded with extra privileges for picking fights with new inmates that are serving short sentences. The punishment for the new inmate for "starting" or "participating" in the fight is a longer sentence of their own, which results in a longer stay in prison and more billing-days for the for-profit corporation. I have heard a couple of interviews on the radio with former prison employees or inmates who participated in this practice. I doubt you see this happening very much at government run prisons.

Jul. 7, 2011 11:13 am

"Sheriff's Dept. to Fire Deputies Involved in Christmas Brawl

LOS ANGELES ( KTLA) -- County Sheriff's investigators have begun the process of firing 6 Men's Central Jail employees involved in a fight at a work Christmas party.

The decision comes as a result of an internal probe that was launched shortly after the Dec. 10, 2010 brawl at a Montebello banquet hall.

Officials said the firing could be one of the largest disciplinary actions in the department’s history.

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More than 150 interviews were conducted since Sheriff Lee Baca directed the Department's Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau to launch a criminal investigation into the facts surrounding the incident last December.

The investigation revealed that the men, who worked on the third floor of the jail, were part of a gang like clique, which included a three-fingered hand sign.

In addition to the terminations, the department is also looking into reforming jail assignments to keep coworkers from creating gangs such as these.

The fight resulted in seven deputies, whose identities have not been released, being relieved of duty with pay pending the investigation.

About 100 guests, including sheriff's supervisors, had attended the party at the Quiet Cannon Restaurant.

As the night was winding down near midnight, Montebello police received an anonymous 911 call reporting violence in the parking lot.

When Montebello officers arrived, they were told the combatants were deputies. No one was arrested that night."

Jun. 29, 2012 9:24 am

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