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What is the problem with private prisons?


A. The government breached its social contract with the people of the United States by selling the incarceration of people to the lowest bidder. “We the People” of the United States surrendered power and individual liberty to form a government that would in tum provide order and protection of individual liberties. Thus, an individual’s life, liberty or property may not be taken without “due process of law”. The private prison vendor is not the law. The taking of liberty is an inherent governmental function that may not be delegated to profit-making ventures.

B. Once having delegated the function to prison corporations, the government has injected serious financial bias into the criminal justice system. These corporations have no incentive to rehabilitate or release prisoners. They have financial incentives to keep prisoners longer and they spend lots of money on Congress and state legislators to put more people in prison and for longer sentences. As jailers they are responsible for reports that affect liberty and early release time.

C. Crime and punishment should be viewed by government officials as societal burdens that cry out for public solutions. The private prison profits from societal decay and commands contracts that guaranty 90% occupancy and taxpayer payment for empty beds. Worse, the prison corporation is not transparent. The people who run them are not accountable to the voters. The incentives are all wrong.

D. The inmate himself or herself becomes a commodity, a de-humanized source of profit for the corporations. What does that look like? It is a new form of the plantation, of slavery. More is taken from the inmate than liberty itself. The inmate’s very presence, very humanity, is reduced to a dollar value to the corporation that imprisons him.

E. Certification standards for correctional officers also suffer in the private prison system, which affects safety and security.