This is a huge scandal if it’s true. Private prison systems are a huge grift, they’re morally wrong and they are costing taxpayers billions. The notion that we are going to incentivize corporations to have more people locked up is a tremendous conflict of interest – especially when they’re busted paying off judges to send innocent kids to jail like this heartbreaking story HERE. CCA made $1.7 billion in revenues in 2011, spent $17.4 million on lobbying and gave $1.9 million to various politicians in 2011 (source). And now – CCA is just ceding control of certain parts of the jail to prisoners in order to save on costs according to the Associated Press. Remember – this is a PRIVATE business giving money to politicians who conveniently sign legislation that benefits their business. America – what a country.
The Associated Press explains more about the lawsuit brought by 8 inmates from the Idaho corrections facility run by Corrections Corporation of America – the largest private prison corporation in America HERE:
Eight inmates at the Idaho Correctional Center are suing the Corrections Corporation of America, contending the company is working with a few powerful prison gangs to control the facility south of Boise and spend less on staffing.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Boise’s U.S. District Court, paints the prison as a place where correctional officers work in fear of angering inmate gang members and where housing supervisors ask permission from gang leaders before moving anyone new into an empty cell.
“The complaint alleges that CCA fosters and develops criminal gangs,” said attorney Wyatt Johnson, who along with T.J. Angstman represents the inmates, said in a statement. “Ideally, the lawsuit should force this to come to an end.”
The inmates point to investigative reports from the Idaho Department of Correction that suggest gangs like the Aryan Knights and the Severely Violent Criminals were able to wrest control from staff members after prison officials began housing members of the same gangs together in some units to reduce violent clashes.
If you’re unaware of how CCA operates – let me explain. CCA lobbies politicians for contracts selling state prison systems for a one time infusion of cash. And then they give politicians money. For example – CCA gave money to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in return for favorable legislation; coincidentally – her chief of staff was a former lobbyist for CCA while his wife was an existing lobbyist for CCA (source). CCA is the same private prison system that sent a letter to 48 states offering to purchase up to $250 million worth of prison facilities in exchange for a guarantee these prisons would be 90% full for a 20 year contract (source); seriously.
We currently have over 1 million prisoners working for slave wages making products for Fortune 500 companies while in jail (source). Paul Krugman explains why private prison systems are a bad idea HERE. And if you want to understand how these private prison systems work … just imagine a world where you go to jail for owing money and then come out of jail owing more than you owed originally.
We wrote about that HERE; I really think this is a must read – an excerpt:
Three years ago, Gina Ray, who is now 31 and unemployed, was fined $179 for speeding. She failed to show up at court (she says the ticket bore the wrong date), so her license was revoked.
When she was next pulled over, she was, of course, driving without a license. By then her fees added up to more than $1,500. Unable to pay, she was handed over to a private probation company and jailed — charged an additional fee for each day behind bars.
For that driving offense, Ms. Ray has been locked up three times for a total of 40 days and owes $3,170, much of it to the probation company.
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