Friday, May 23, 2008

Book Review - especially pertinent to Berrien County

Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money From Mass Incarceration
By Tara Herivel and Paul Wright
Complete review at by David A. Love, JD


Incarceration is perhaps America’s leading method of social control. With 2.5 million in the nation’s jails and prisons - 7 million people when you include people on probation and parole - a quarter of the world’s prisoners; world’s largest prison population.

...fuelling the alarming growth rate of America’s prisons is the profit motive. Making money, rather than deterring crime or promoting rehabilitation, determines why and how many prisons are built...$186 billion taxpayer-funded industry.

Punishment for profit is a sordid, unethical and immoral enterprise, and no other nation places more prisoners in the custody of private corporations than America. Consequently, this system produces winners and losers:

Primary winners: politicians, prison corporations, Wall Street banks benefit from private prison funding schemes that lie outside of the public purview....Telephone companies benefit from an unregulated marketplace and charge exorbitant rates for prisoner calls...prohibitive for inmates to communicate with families...stifling the rehabilitation process.

Badly needed educational, rehabilitation and drug treatment programs are cut to realize cost savings...Correctional officers’ unions advocate for more draconian sentencing that will maintain their rightly argues, there is no relationship between crime and incarceration rates.

...some localities charge prisoners for their own incarceration, including room, board, healthcare, food, etc... Inmates, usually lacking resources, are further punished through court and administrative fees. Probation may be conditioned on the ability to pay restitution and fees, and failure to pay could result in a “go to jail card.” Thus, Neo-Dickensian debtors’ prisons are created.

...And Prison, Inc. is particularly cruel towards the young and the ill. Private youth facilities, staffed with...untrained and underpaid staff in order to maximize corporate profit and executive pay, are rife with child abuse. ...indifferent to human suffering, purposely deny medical care for the sake of the bottom line.

...required reading for students of the criminal justice system, civil liberties advocates, and those who desire an understanding of the underbelly of our nation’s prisons-for-profit system.