Private prisons and why they should be abolished

Breaking this subject out into a separate thread, previously it was discussed as part of a thread regarding arresting and detaining in jail illegal immigrants.

  1. They are inherently corrupting and this problem cannot be mitigated, short of abolition. For example, Trump’s & Session’s immigration crackdown is driven in good part due to a need to repay their campaign donations from private prisons. Repaying private prisons can ONLY be done in one way, that is by sending them more “customers.” Private prisons thus create a perverse incentive to deliberately RAISE the incarceration rate, as if it weren’t high enough already.

1a. They are judicially corrupting as well. There was the “Cash for Kids” scandal here in Pennsylvania, where state judges were taking kickbacks to send juveniles to private detention facilities. In Iowa, United States District Judge Linda Reade’s husband is a major investor in CoreCivic, a private prison company. Several days before a major raid on a meat-packer, her husband increased his investments. She signed the warrant for raid and knew the day it would take place, so she obviously clued her husband in on when to buy.

There are many, many such examples

  1. Private prisons are clearly inferior to United States Bureau of Prisons facilities and generally are inferior to State and local facilities, though that obviously varies by State. And again, the nature of private prisons ensures there is no way to mitigate this problem. Private prisons obviously operate on the profit motive, which is generally an excellent motivation. But with private prisons, the perverse incentive again appears. Minimizing costs has led to abusive behavior, violence and escapes at private facilities, with rehabilitation efforts almost non existent. Bureau of Prisons facilities operate on a set budget and there are no perverse incentives to skimp on money for security and rehabilitation, etc. Instead, Wardens and Assistant Wardens are judged on performance and keeping good order in their facilities.

As a consequence, I support legislation to abolish the use of private prisons at the Federal level. I would allow nor more than 5 years for the Federal Government to phase out all contracts with private prisons and to move all prisoners and pre-trial detainees to Bureau of Prison’s facilities or to State or local facilities that meet federal standards.

At the State and local level, I support efforts to enact legislation and/or local ordinances to phase out the use of private prisons within 5 years.

I also support Federal, State and local legislation that would ban private outsourcing of “core” functions in public prison facilities, such as guards and rehabilitative staff.

Prisons and jails are simply an inherently public function and should be run that way.

I would note that there are some **** poor State and local facilities, but they don’t justify the existence of private facilities. Rather, they point to the need to upgrade or replace those facilities.

In the interim, while private prisons continue to exist, I would support legislation requiring all judges, Federal and State, to divest from private prison stock or any fund invested in private prisons and require their immediate family members to do so as well. I would require politicians who have received campaign donations from private prisons to public disclose those donations each and every time they take an action that could potentially generate more prisoners for private prisons.



I agree with the principles of your post. We’ve had cases of judges getting kick backs I believe.

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How big is the industry? It has to be huge.

I agree wholeheartedly.

Idaho turned its state prisons over to a private company and it was a disaster with corruption through the roof which forced Idaho Govt to take the prisons back over in 2013. When the reddest of the red states realizes the folly of private prisons vs govt run you know that private is a bad thing.

Prisons will always have corruption problems due to the low pay guards get but its magnified when cutting costs is the #1 goal which is what happens with private prisons.

I’m curious if anyone here will defend private prisons.

I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone ideologically defend private prisons, regardless of political persuation.

Say what you will about Mother Jones news, but here is an article from them written by one of their reporters who got a job at a private prison for four months. They did not even do a back ground check on him or they could easily have found his many previous articles critical of the industry. It’s a long article but it gives an inside look.

Nevermind the ability to buy politicians, that is what makes this system even more indefensible.

How would a person prove that in court… not prove that there were campaign contributions, but prove the quid pro quo now drives policy? Give me a hint of what the proof would look like.

It would be nearly impossible to prove.

You would have to demonstrate an intentional and explicit quid pro quo agreement made ahead of time.

Even in a perfect world with no corruption, the premise of for-profit prisons has significant inherent issues.

The problem with the theory is the law.

No, I think there’s more to it.

Incarcerating criminals for profit has inherent problems above and beyond “the law”.

Apologies, I see now that you were responding to a different post.

But now I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.

Trump and Sessions are following the law. It may very well benefit the prison corps, but it is the law.

That is not always the case. Clinton for example.

yeah. I was surprised to read that coming from Mr Law.

I’m not in favor of it.

Ok. I don’t disagree.

I’m not arguing that there’s a conspiracy to lock people to benefit the private prison system.

I’m saying there is inherently a mutually beneficial relationship between a “law and order” politician and the private prison industry - and that’s the problem.

I will agree if we expand it to include everyone in the justice system.

Of course. 100%.