Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

   Let me get this straight. Corporations such as CCA—Correctional Corporation of America—operate some of our prisons and, in doing so, seeks to make a profit. That is a dynamic to privatization: the profit motive makes for more efficient operations. CCA receives monies from the particular state with which it contracts for each prisoner it houses and feeds. 

   CCA seeks to run more prisons. Expansion of market-share, after all, is one of those silly, kookie things about capitalism.

   50.8% of people incarcerated by Federal court system are incarcerated for drug offenses. The percentage of individuals incarcerated in the states’ systems is difficult to estimate. Given the way in which Marion County’s drug courts are so crowded, I would say a significant number of state inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses.

   When private corporations run prisons and profit thereby, those corporations have a vested interest in enactment of laws that result in people being incarcerated. If all drugs were legalized, CCA would lose a lot of money.

   Not only do the corporations profit from housing and feeding inmates, they profit from inmate labor. Items for the U.S. military, for example, are produced by inmate labor. A good point is raised about the telephone calls. Because the prime area of my practice is in the area of appellate law, many of my clients are incarcerated. I am billed a base rate each month for the simple ability to accept collect calls from the clients who are in facilities that have contracts with that particular company. Other facilities are services by other companies. There is a way around this. I can call the facility and arrange to call the inmate’s counselor at a pre-arranged time. I have a flat rate for LD calls on my plan.

   Privatization does not work. In correctional facilities it is grossly unjust.

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Comment by Mark Small on December 18, 2011 at 7:18am

   1) First, let me note a correction to be made.  CCA stands for "Correction Corporation of America." Thanks to Paul Ogden for pointing out that error.

   2) Nicolas, you raise valid points. I do not believe my analysis of who is running the facilities for incarceration is a tangent. I do not contend it is the only problem we have. It is a problem that is part of the backwardness and corruption of the system.

   3) If a legal entity or an individual makes profits from an activity, generally the entity or individual will want to ensure its ability to engage in that activity as it also seeks to expand its market. In regard to facilities for incarceration, that would mean the entity I use here as an example, CCA, would want to make sure private interests are allowed to continue to operate facilities for incarceration. It also means such private interests have an interest in making as many actions punishable by incarceration as possible.

   4) In regard to that last point, I would point to the recent show we had, and on which you commented, about legalization of all drugs. Presumably CCA would be amongst interests to oppose legalization. CCA would lose inmates.

   5) I am not a fan of republican forms of government as panacea. However, it is better than a lot of the alternatives. And I will be glad to engage in dialogue about alternatives.

   6) Change has to occur at basic levels of our society for solutions to be feasible. Free access to quality education, sex education, and birth control are three important aspects of addressing basic levels.

Comment by Paul K. Ogden on December 15, 2011 at 9:37am

I think NM brings up a good point, and one I've pointed out...namely that law enforcement because of civil forfeiture have an incentive to keep the war on drugs going.   When you get outside of things like that, I don't think the incentive is nearly as much for government as a for-profit private business to cut the corners.  For an example, think about food provided to inmates.  A private company providing cheaper food is going to be able to cut expenses and make more money  For a government entity though the only benefit of providing cheaper food is that the taxpayers pay less.  Most people in government though don't have a problem spending taxpayer money.    You don't have the same incentives in government to hold down costs like you do in the private sector.  Which is good and bad.


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