Monday, November 17, 2008

'Corporate Prisons': the GOP's Formula for More Crime, Declining Education, and Slave Labor

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Like many crooked GOP schemes, the fascist corporatization of state prisons makes a slick end run around the Bill of Rights, sets up crony corporations with a guaranteed gravy train at tax payer expense, and ---to sweeten the deal --it provides them with slave labor.

It is no accident that under Gov George W. Bush, Texas beat out Mississippi for 'dead last' in education. As education declines, crime increases. Increasing crime fuels the corporate prison gravy train. Justice has nothing to do with it. It's about warehousing and enslaving people for profit. There is nothing in the middle ages half so slick, so cunning, so evil!

Unless the nation wakes up to what happened in Texas, the nation will enter not just an economic depression but a new dark age, perhaps an end to civilization as we know it. In many ways we already share with the middle ages, a careless disregard for every life. In Texas, the crime rate increased as the prison systems --under Bush Jr --went corporate! As a result, one in 100 Texas residents are in prison, many of them 'corporate' lock ups in which prisoners have no rights. As Texas took the GOP/fascist prison route, education tanked --a recipe for future unemployment, poverty and increased crime.

I see a pattern. Declining education is a recipe for guaranteed unemployment, poverty, and crime. It also represents a guaranteed, risk free income to the evil corporations who run the state's corporate gulag often with no-bid contracts! As long as the quality of public education declines, two groups will benefit: the corporate owned prisons and expensive private schools affordable only to the very, very rich and/or privileged. The GOP runs states like Bush ran the war of aggression against Iraq. State prisons are just another money making opportunity, as Iraq was for the likes of Dick Cheney's Halliburton and professional thugs like Blackwater.

My assertions are backed up by a recent Pew study of trends [PDF] that had been embraced by Bush's Texas, primarily the rapid outsourcing of prison construction and management throughout the US. As in Texas, crime rates over the period under study increased. Guilt or innocence is of no concern to corporate robber barons. It is an Orwellian nightmare of waste, graft, and fascism in which no one is held to account.

As the GOP "Enronized" the great state of Texas, an assembly line criminal justice system, in cahoots with a medieval, privatized prison system, proved to be an oxymoron. It was "criminal" but hardly "justice". Despite the GOPs "worst" efforts, crime in Texas, always a topic of much discussion and study, has gotten worse. Texas is big on capital punishment, but even the industrialized application of the death penalty cannot kill off the criminals as fast as they procreate and multiply. The GOP may be seeking a "final solution".
...by year's end 1999, there were 706,600 Texans in prison, jail, parole or probation on any given day. In a state with 14 million adults, this meant that 5% of adult Texans, or 1 out of every 20, are under some form of criminal justice supervision. The scale of what is happening in Texas is so huge, it is difficult to contrast the size of its criminal justice systems to the other states' systems it dwarfs:

  • There are more Texans under criminal justice control than the entire populations of some states, including Vermont, Wyoming and Alaska.
  • According to Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates, one quarter of the nation's parole and probationers are in Texas. California and Texas, together, comprise half the nation's parolees and probationers.
  • The number of people incarcerated in Texas (in prison or jail) reached 207,526 in mid-year 1999. Only California, with 10 million more citizens, has more people in both prison and jail.
  • Texas has a rate of 1,035 people behind bars for every 100,000 in the population, the second highest incarceration rate in the nation (second only to Louisiana). If Texas was a nation separate from the United States, it would have the world's highest incarceration rate--significantly higher than the United States (682), and Russia (685) which has 1 million prisoners, the world's third biggest prison system. Texas' incarceration rate is also higher than China (115), which has the world's second largest prison population (1.4 million prisoners).
  • If the US shared the incarceration rate of Texas, there would be nearly three million Americans behind bars (2,822,300)--instead of our current 2 million prisoners.
  • The Texas prison population tripled since 1990, and rose 61.5% in the last five years of this decade alone. In 1994, there were 92, 669 prisoners in Texas. This number had increased to 149,684 by mid-year 1999.
  • The Texas correctional system has grown so large that in July 2000, corrections officials ran out of six digit numbers to assign inmates, and officially created prisoner number 1,000,000.

    --An Analysis of Incarceration and Crime Trends in The Lone Star State
Texas is called the gulag state for good reasons. Certainly, justice in Texas is applied inequitably. Minorities --primarily black and Hispanic --are disproportionately represented in the Texas gulag system but under represented in the State legislature, the various city councils, and the state judicial system.

Black people represent only 12% of the Texas population but comprise 44% of the total incarcerated population. Whites make up about 58% of Texas' total population, but only 30% of the prison and jail population.
  • While one out of every 20 Texas adults is under some form of criminal justice control, one out of 3 young black men (29% of the black male population between 21 and 29) are in prison, jail, parole or probation on any given day.
  • One out of every four adult black men in Texas is under some form of criminal justice supervision.
  • Blacks in Texas are incarcerated at a rate seven times greater than whites. While there are 555 whites behind bars for every 100,000 in the Texas population, there are an astonishing 3862 African Americans behind bars for every 100,000 in the state. This is nearly 63% higher than the national incarceration rate for blacks of 2366 per 100,000.
  • If Texas' black incarceration rate was applied to the United States, the number of blacks behind bars on a national level would increase by half a million. There are currently an estimated 824,900 African Americans in prison and jail in the US The new figure, 1,346,370, would increase the number of African Americans incarcerated in the US by 63%.
Do you see the pattern? I allege that Bush deliberately SABOTAGED education IN Texas with budget cuts and other GOP idiocy SO THAT his corporate buddies could make a killing in the prison business!

The corporatization of the nation's prisons is called 'the Prison Industrial Complex. As we have seen, crime increases as education declines. Corporate prisons are, therefore, among the fastest growing industries in America. One should not be surprised to find among the corporate prison owners GOP robber barons in search of big bucks, a gravy train pay back for their loyal support of the GOP.

The Prison-Industrial complex consists of prison construction, staffing, operation. There is something in it for everyone lacking a conscience. Because profitability is directly related to the number of inmates, there is, then, no motive to improve education. Education costs money and corporations haven't yet found a away to exploit it. There are no good reasons for the explosive growth of a new industry --that of warehousing folk.
Prison companies are preparing for a wave of new business as the economic downturn makes it increasingly difficult for federal and state government officials to build and operate their own jails.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons and several state governments have sent thousands of inmates in recent months to prisons and detention centers run by Corrections Corp. of America, Geo Group Inc. and other private operators, as a crackdown on illegal immigration, a lengthening of mandatory sentences for certain crimes and other factors have overcrowded many government facilities.

Prison-policy experts expect inmate populations in 10 states to have increased by 25% or more between 2006 and 2011, according to a report by the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts.

Private prisons housed 7.4% of the country's 1.59 million incarcerated adults in federal and state prisons as of the middle of 2007, up from 1.57 million in 2006, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a crime-data-gathering arm of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Corrections Corp., the largest private-prison operator in the U.S., with 64 facilities, has built two prisons this year and expanded nine facilities, and it plans to finish two more in 2009. The Nashville, Tenn., company put 1,680 new prison beds into service in its third quarter, helping boost net income 14% to $37.9 million. "There is going to be a larger opportunity for us in the future," said Damon Hininger, Corrections Corp.'s president and chief operations officer, in a recent interview.

California has shipped more than 5,100 inmates to private prisons run by Corrections Corp. in Arizona, Mississippi and other states since late 2006, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered emergency measures to control a ballooning state-prison population. Prisons were so overcrowded that hundreds of inmates were sleeping in gyms, according to one report. An additional 2,900 prisoners are scheduled to be transferred to private prisons outside the state by the end of next year, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

--Larger Inmate Population Is Boon to Private Prisons

Sticking folk in a dank cell makes lot of people a good living at the expense of a much better, literate, productive, egalitarian society. There is also the danger that an educated population would see through the various GOP scams and pull the plug on the cons, the outright subversions of law, decency, and all those intangibles that make life worth living. We are basically dealing with venal robber barons who don't give a fuck!
After months alone in his cell, Scot Noble Payne finished 20 pages of letters, describing to loved ones the decrepit conditions of the prison where he was serving time for molesting a child. Then Payne used a razor blade to slice two 3-inch gashes in his throat. Guards found his body in the cell's shower, with the water still running.

"Try to comfort my mum too and try to get her to see that I am truly happy again," he wrote his uncle. "I tell you, it sure beats having water on the floor 24/7, a smelly pillow case, sheets with blood stains on them and a stinky towel that hasn't been changed since they caught me."

Payne's suicide on March 4 came seven months after he was sent to the squalid privately run Texas prison by Idaho authorities trying to ease inmate overcrowding in their own state. His death exposed what had been Idaho's standard practice for dealing with inmates sent to out-of-state prisons: Out of sight, out of mind.

It also raised questions about a company hired to operate prisons in 15 states, despite reports of abusive guards and terrible sanitation.

Hundreds of pages of documents obtained by The Associated Press through an open-records request show Idaho did little monitoring of out-of-state inmates, despite repeated complaints from prisoners, their families and a prison inspector.

...

--JOHN MILLER, Suicide Exposes Squalid Conditions in Privately-Run Texas Prison; Company Operates in 15 States

Post a Comment