Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Private Prison Inmate Blues

Weird Wally felt the change coming for several years and had managed to fight it until early one Sunday morning when he turned on MSNBC’s, Melissa Harris-Perry.   Having worked as an adult probation officer in both New York and Arizona, the last thing Wally wanted to think about were prisons and the people who went there.  But that’s what Miss Meliss was talking about that morning and she caught his attention.  Things had changed since he’d been part of the system and ideas like rehabilitation and humane treatment have totally left the field.  Both motive and mission, as Wally now saw it, could best be described in a single word, profit.  Once the responsibility of governments, prisons are fast becoming privatized and part of a growing “prison industry,” accountable to no one.

And the more he thought about it, the more Wally realized  that he was actually starting to give a shit about the situation and it mattered not, what kind of people go there.   When citizens allow their governments to outsource responsibility for people in its custody, it is bound to say something about the citizens themselves.  Wally did not want to be that kind of citizen.

“It’s not right to just turn over people’s lives to a for profit entity, ”Wally said to a friend.  “The corporation owns you, body and soul, to do with you as they want.  That is just fucking wrong!”

But it isn’t just prisons, he knew.  Juveniles, mentally ill, immigrants awaiting deportation, all come under the prison privatization scheme.  And corporations are eager to take charge, for a profit, of those which the rest of society would rather ignore.  And if you are a corporation working with such a segment of society, your main job, as you might see it, is to keep them out of sight as much as possible.  “And out of sight,” Wally told himself, “is out of mind.”

And that, he knew, was the secret sauce for a profitable private prison.  Charge as much as you can get away with and provide little or nothing in return.  For certain, do without rehabilitation and mental health counseling.   Medical and food and nutrition expenses must be kept to a minimum and, by the way, why not contract the inmates out to local businesses and construction companies?

Both Juveniles and adults are less safe than ever in these privatized for profit institutions and male rape, violence, killing and suicides have increased.   And because of the corruptness of the private prison system, the court system is also effected.  Nothing of the criminal justice system can remain untarnished.  

 
Of late though, there is a small amount of good news on the horizon.   Some corporations are divesting from the private prison industry, nearly $60 Million so far.  But that is only a drop in the bucket.  Meanwhile Wall Street remains bullish on the industry and thinks it still has a lot of room to grow.   Wally, on the other hand, believes that “we the people,” are better than to allow private prisons to continue.  And although he won’t bet any money on the outcome, Wally says he’s remaining hopeful.

You Are What You Eat, a late braking link regarding prison food!


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