prison

Prison profits

Prison reform and prison labor are topics we’ve written about before on the Occasional Planet. American prisons are making tons of money hiring out their inmates for minuscule wages. It’s more than just breaking rocks and stamping license plates too. Companies like Victoria’s Secret, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and even Boening use inmates to sew, run phone centers, assemble missiles, and other manufacturing jobs instead of paying full wages to other Americans. But that’s not all. Private prisons make millions of dollars for filling beds and hosting a large number of occupants. When you start doing the math, it makes you wonder if our legal system is more interested in filling quotas than reforming people who break the law.

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  • Stacy Mergenthal

    It also makes me wonder why we privatized prisons to begin with.

    I recently read the story of a woman who was thrown in jail for failure to complete a court-ordered “diversion program.” It was the result of her first offense: shoplifting. Her jailers refused to give her pants or feminine hygiene products for THREE DAYS while in jail so she appeared in court without pants, humiliated and dejected. The prosecutor was asking she be imprisoned for several more months. Months for such a minor offense? The judge was appalled at her treatment and released her, thankfully.

    When prisons are overflowing and prisoners must go without basic toiletries and eat rancid food because it’s too costly to keep them in decent health, why are we not looking at the laws that put them there? Prison should be for the worst offenders, those who harm others. Too many people are in prison for debts, white collar crime, child support, smoking dope/possession, prostitution, shoplifting/theft, etc.

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