Private Prisons are Wrong – But Here’s a Solution
This is a form of slavery.
Prisons need to be run by the state, not by private corporations.
We all know that our justice system must separate and punish those who commit crimes and cannot become part of our society. There will also be those who will never be integrated back into society, but the ultimate purpose of incarceration needs to be rehabilitation whereby the prisoner is integrated back into life outside of the prison.
And we should never allow anyone to profit on the misfortunes of prisoners. And we should not permit these companies, through their lobbying efforts, to coerce lawmakers to make legislate for the express purpose to keep people incarcerated.
Currently, the U.S represents 5 percent of the world’s population but an astonishing 25 percent of the world’s prison population. Privately held prisons make money on the number of prisoners, and they make their money by running the prisons as cheaply as possible, even charging inmates’ families with additional fees for basic necessities. What an insidious burden on the families who have a loved one who is incarcerated. As a result, private prisons are a $70 billion industry.
What also needs to be taken into consideration is that African Americans represent a disproportionate amount of the U.S. prison population, according to the NAACP, which notes that “African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.” In turn, this puts a disproportionate burden on the lives and communities of African Americans.
Since the early 1980s, when mandatory-minimum-sentencing laws for drugs when into effect, the prison populations have exploded, and most of these individuals are serving time for non-violent drug offenses. Federal law currently requires a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for a first-time, non-violent drug offense. The private prison companies make a lot of money on non-violent young men and women without regard for rehabilitation and facilitated release. It makes no (financial) sense to them to advocate for a reduction in prison time for non-violent drug offenses.
We need to reverse mandatory sentencing. Yet on May 10, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a Memorandum for All Federal Prosecutors, Department Charging and Sentencing Policy, which ordered federal prosecutors to seek the maximum punishment for drug offenses. This edict ties the hands of our judges and fills state and private jails with non-violent inmates.
We need to decriminalize all drugs. And I mean ALL drugs. The war on drugs only creates more drug users and does not help the victim. We need to think of victims as patients and treat them accordingly. These people need help and care, and in many cases access to medical treatment.
We need to vote for politicians who will not take money from lobbyists that represent the private prison corporations. It’s a prison industrial complex. Ultimately, we need politicians who will not take any money from lobbyists and only represent the people.