States Begin Coming to Their Senses on Private Prisons; Mississippi, Having No Senses to Come to, Switch Companies…

(In the past 30 days, I have worked a stretch of 23 straight days, had minor surgery, and had a co-worker die in a freak accident.  In case you were wondering where I’ve been.  I should mostly be back now.  Probably take me a few to get back in the swing of things.  Cheers….)

Private prisons are great at exposing the lie of incarceration as rehabilitation.  They use the outrageous incarceration rates in the United States to form a business model turning profits off of locking up mostly non-violent offenders, and with their contracts with states often insisting on a guaranteed occupancy rate of 90% they form yet another obstacle to reforming the justice system away from “lock ’em up and throw away the key” towards something a bit more humane and evidence based.

Apparently some states are starting to realize some of the problems contracting their justice system out to for profit companies can cause, and distancing themselves from Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison corporation in America.  From my favorite blog, Dispatches from the Culture Wars:

Here’s a bit of good news that I hope becomes a major trend. Four states in the last few weeks have voided contracts with the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the country, over substandard conditions and safety concerns.

Idaho cut ties with the corporation on Wednesday, which turned the state’s largest prison into a violent hellhole inmates called “Gladiator School.” Earlier this year, CCA was caught understaffing the prison and using prison gangs to control the population. The company admitted to falsifying nearly 4,800 hours of staffing records to squeeze more money out of the state for nonexistent security work. Shift logs at the prison showed the same security guards working for 2 to 3 days at a time without breaks.

Last week, Texas closed two CCA prisons, including one with a history of suspicious prisoner deaths. One lawsuit alleges prison staff ignored an inmate’s cries for medical assistance, forcing her to give birth in a prison toilet to a baby that died four days later.

CCA was also booted from Mississippi earlier this month after multipledeadly riots over poor food and sanitation, lack of medical care, and mistreatment by guards. Mississippi is hiring another private prison company, MTC, to take over CCA’s contract — even though MTC runs another prison with the highest inmate assault rate in the state. Mississippi already terminated contracts with the other major private prison company, GEO Group, after it was found guilty of turning a juvenile facility into “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts.” Despite this record, the state is apparently not ready to give up on private prisons.

Private control of prisons should be outlawed nationwide. Let’s hope this begins the process of making that happen.



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