For years, politicians have brought up the “failed prison system” in the United States and told the public how it is bleeding the country dry.
What they have failed to mention is that by privatizing prisons, US lawmakers and politicians stand to gain huge campaign contributions by stroking the backs of companies such as Geo and CCA.
Not only are these for-profit prisons turning enormous profits, but they are actively seeking more prisoners to fill those beds. Every inmate in these private, for-profit prisons is worth an estimated $2500 each.
A prisoner who has been sentenced for 20 years is now worth $50,000 to the private prison industry, at a minimum.
“Not only are these for-profit prisons turning enormous profits, but they are actively seeking more prisoners to fill those beds.”
The private system is dependent upon filling beds to keep those profits coming. It is not hard, given this information, to see why so much money is being spent on lobbying and for campaign contributions.
What about the state, county, and federal prisons? How are they making money? First of all, nearly every part of the workforce in these facilities is now contracted out.
The medical care is contracted to medical companies that are being paid huge amounts of money for providing medical services. Many facilities have private companies in charge of running on-site cafeterias, who often use prisoners as free help but collect large payments for themselves in these contracts.
Aramark is one such private company that provides meals at over 600 detention facilities nationwide. Most meals are contracted to be provided for at a cost of somewhere between $1.13 and $1.40 per inmate, per day.
The prison system in Alabama had actually budgeted $1.75 a day for inmates back in 1939! This law is still in place today and reads that if the sheriff can feed inmates for less than the budgeted amount, they may keep the difference as a bonus. Prisoners are regularly starved, fed moldy food, and fed the same things over and over, all so the sheriff can reap a profit.
That was 70 years ago and the law has never been changed, even though the cost of providing enough food to keep an adult healthy has obviously changed!
Recently, a sheriff in Alabama admitted to feeding prisoners watered-down milk and hotdogs at every meal until a discounted truckload had been consumed in full.
They also were using a lot of powdered foods. The sheriff admitted to pocketing $200k in monies that had been allocated for food, by essentially starving prisoners.
This was not illegal because of the old law still on the books. After multiple allegations and lawsuits brought forth from victims who claimed hunger and having lost excessive amounts of weight, the sheriff was finally investigated and charged with contempt.
One prisoner lost 100 pounds in a year.
While some may argue that he needed to lose this weight, others who were at a very normal weight lost as much as 30 pounds in their first month of incarceration. This is not normal nor is it healthy.
Prison kitchens have even been shut-down in some states, due to malfunctioning equipment and failing to pass state health inspections.
This has resulted in prisoners having to eat cold food for days and weeks on end. While some might say this is “just punishment” for prisoners, it should be pointed out that the vast majority of these people are in for minor offenses.
In some cases, these are pregnant women who are being malnourished, putting unborn children at risk, because of traffic violations or charges for prostitution.
This is happening while Wall Street bankers who bilked people for millions and/or billions of dollars are out on bail or without charges ever even being filed.
Some of these people serving time may not even be guilty, as we have already contended. They are currently being held for bail or being held-over without bail, something that is now perfectly legal in our country.
“Jail is not supposed to be a hotel, that’s true,” stated criminal defense attorney G. Kerry Haymaker. “That being said, [some of] these people haven’t been convicted of anything and these are the conditions they’ve been subjected to.”
In some counties and states, it is common to be held as long as 30 days without even being formally charged with a crime or having bail set.
This is thanks, in part, to changes made during the George W. Bush administration. No longer does it seem that anyone is innocent until proven guilty.
Sadly, many Americans are completely unaware of these changes and problems because they are unaffected. This is one more reason that minorities and the poor feel targeted.
They are being sought; targeted to fill beds in facilities that profit from their incarceration, which is often unjust in a country where you are supposedly innocent until proven guilty.