America, we need to talk about our Prison System

I love this country, really, I do. In the four years that I’ve called America my home, I’ve enjoyed more good fortune than most people ever have a right to in their lives. I’ve done amazing things, dated beautiful women and traveled to indescribably amazing locales. All the while, I’ve been utterly disgusted and saddened by the state of the nation’s system for managing convicts.

You see, this isn’t often a topic of discussion on cable news (where the interests of the establishment reign supreme and the plight of the outsiders goes unheard), but things are bad in our jails. Recently in Texas, a riot at a holding center for immigrants in Willacy County left the entire facility uninhabitable. Nearly 3000 inmates will be relocated as a result of the incident.

Predictably, Fox News buried the reason for the rioting at the bottom of their article that reported on the story. Instead of mentioning the sexual abuse that occurred at the Prison, or how some guards once got into trouble for smuggling inmates across the border, they focused on the makeshift weapons that the rioters used and the damage they did to the shady facility.

Now, you don’t really have to dig very deeply to figure out why the article was skewed in such a manner. You see, this facility that was recently destroyed was managed by a private company, Management and Training Corporation out of Utah to be exact. And as most people know, the Private Prison Industry is a close friend of the Republican Party. According to a report from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the 3 largest Private Prison companies have given over 130,000 to candidates for public office in Texas since 2006. As a result, the Lone Star State had more private prisons than any other state in the country.

Now, to be fair, those who are in favor of privatizing corrections operations in this country have one good point that can be made, that these facilities cost less and save the states they exist in a lot of money. Except that’s not true. If you look at this report from inthepublicinterest.org, you can see that these shady corporations are extorting the states that seek out their business. In Georgia, the cost to maintain a prisoner per day in a private prison is almost 10 dollars more. That’s absurd. What you have here is a slick and highly organized racket dear reader.

Horrid costs aside, these facilities are always in the news, but never in a good way. One need only utilize Google to find previous stories of abuse that have been committed by sadistic guards.

Last year, the Huffington Post reported on a lawsuit filed against a prison operator in Florida. In that case, the plaintiffs allege that guards at one facility regularly made sexual advances towards the teenage youths they were supposed to be watching over and keeping out of trouble.

That kind of horror is disturbingly commonplace today. Remember the “Cash for Kids” scandal? In that incident, a Judge in Pennsylvania was accepting kickbacks from a private prison company in exchange for sending kids (who’d done things like shoplifting or talking back to their parents) there for several years. Some were even sentenced without having an attorney present.

Bottom line is, we have to stop this lunacy. I have no problem with some things being privatized, but the corrections system should not be one of them. People’s lives are being ruined here, we as Americans have a moral obligation to stand up and stop this horror and catastrophe.

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