Over and over again many of the worst abuses in our prison system happen in private, for-profit prisons. These prisons are designed and managed to maximize the profit for the companies that run them and, not surprisingly, what’s best for a company’s profit isn’t always best for inmates or communities.
Further, privatizing the prison system means that prison companies have a financial incentive to work and lobby for more incarceration. The United States only has 5% of the world’s population but houses nearly 25% of the world’s prison population. The prison industry has a financial incentive to lobby for longer sentences, harsh mandatory minimums, fewer opportunities for rehabilitation, and against programs designed to keep former prisoners from committing new crimes.
These perverse incentives are not helping our communities, not benefiting public safety, and shouldn’t be the basis of our criminal justice system.
It’s time to ban private prisons in the United States. Tell your representatives that you don’t want corporate interests running our criminal justice system.
photo: Rennett Stowe
I am writing about an issue that doesn’t get enough attention: our prison system. In many states prisons are run by private companies that are accountable, first and foremost, to their owners and shareholders. It should come as no surprise that many of the worst abuses and worst conditions in our nation’s prisons occur in these facilities.
I believe that as a country our goal should be to minimize the number of people in our prisons. The companies that operate private prisons, however, have a financial incentive to push for locking away more people for longer periods of time at the lowest possible cost—regardless of the impact on our communities.
It has come time for Congress to get involved and help ban private prisons in the United States.
You have the chance to be a champion for something that we are all supposed to cherish in the United States: justice. Please, take that chance and be a leader on this issue.
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