Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Price We Pay

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing state prison officials and a private company, claiming violence is so rampant at the Idaho Correctional Center that it's known as "gladiator school" among inmates.

The ACLU said it would file the lawsuit Thursday against Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corp. of America in U.S. District Court in Boise.

The lawsuit says Idaho's only private prison is extraordinarily violent, with guards deliberately exposing inmates to brutal beatings from other prisoners as a management tool.

The group contends the prison then denies injured inmates medical care to save money and hide the extent of injuries.


It does not take a great deal of effort to discover what a disaster that for-profit prisons have been for everyone except stockholders. Nor does it take a keen intellect to figure out that for-profit prisons are in competition with state-owned systems and need to squeeze out every last cent of profit. How do they do this - by cutting costs. The first place to cut is personnel costs. Paying low wages ensures staff you act in the way described in this article. Next, reduce foods costs, and minimize programs. All of the cost-cutting efforts are a recipe for a nice profit but at a significant cost to society, the inmates, the victims, and continued erosion of confidence in the criminal justice system.

Let me suggest that for-profit prisons are an abomination. Profiting from the suffering of human beings is repugnant to the ideals of an enlightened society. The price we pay is the continuing failure of the prison system, new victims, and the growth of the criminal justice-industrial complex.

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