Every conviction is a prison – Nietzsche
An Italian film Caesar Must Die that documents how prisoners in a high-security prison staged Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, won the Berlin film festival’s top award Saturday. Director Vittorio Taviani responded: “I hope that someone, going home, after seeing ‘Caesar Must Die’ will think that even an inmate, on whose head is a terrible punishment, is, and remains, a man.” Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhW5Y7X6dq0
So how are our prisons and do we treat our prisoners as men or objects? The scandalous state of American ‘correctional’ facilities is that they are barbaric hell holes of crime and abuse paid for by your tax dollars to make a few people very rich at the price of countless lives.
If American society at large gives no respect to hard-working honest people (no health care, no unions, no security), what is life like in prison? In a word, it’s hell. Prison corporations grow richer as human rights and people suffer. It’s for profit, it’s unjust, and it’s barbaric.
Follow the money. Correctional facilities that operate 264 private prisons are corrupt profit machines that are given more credence than people’s human rights. The big prison mafia bad boys are Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group Inc, and Community Education Centers. First they meet the smart alec: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Washington, D.C. organization that develops tough-on-crime legislation and fund it so privatization is funded by private prisons themselves and of course your tax dollars without your consent. They sell it to the public with catch phrases. If it sounds like a military catch phrase like “operation freedom” it’s probably just as stupid, criminal, and warped. Like the infamous and stupid ‘war on drugs’ phrase we have ‘tough on crime’ and ‘truth in sentencing’ and ‘three strikes laws’ all used as excuses to ignore human rights and profit from locking people up who should never be in prison. The ones who write these abominations and profit from human suffering should be in prison.
The criminal justice system is indeed criminal. While history lies, geography doesn’t. It’s a southern slavery mentality. People of color make up the majority of prisoners. The first private prison was in Tennessee. Most privately run facilities are located in the southern and western portions of the United States and include both state and federal offenders. Kudos to Louisiana for banning it in their state. Private prison companies directly influence legislation for tougher, longer sentences because that way they make more money. Their prisons don’t work. For-profit prisons cost more than public prisons. They also refuse to take the worst offenders.
It is inhuman, barbaric, and sick. They sell people. In the ‘Kids for cash’ scandal, Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp, a private prison company paid two judges $2.6m to send 2000 children to their prisons. They export and import people. Moving them is profitable but is another hardship for relatives who want to visit them.
Here’s a map of immigration detention centers. There’s probably one near you and you think it’s just a warehouse. You can check here:
Undocumented people are denied their rights, separated from their families and deported. Assaults on fellow inmates is 65% more common in private prisons. Standards are lower in private prisons. They are grossly overcrowded.
Rape is common and allowed. The term is ‘to turn someone out.’ The term hides the brutality of the act. Private correctional facilities and sadly public correctional facilities too are abuse facilities. Watch this and weep for how low we have gone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MOtz-eJlPE
Charles Dickens lamented the dark draconian nature of Victorian prisons. And it was awful. He loudly protested the inhumanity and the utter neglect of governments to ensure the safety and care of prisoners. Many ‘patriotic’ Americans believe that they have the greatest country in the world and so their prisons are like hotels (you hear this from Fox and their ilk) and their government would not punish people who did not deserve to be punished. We have debtors’ prisons again like in Dickens’ time. Wait until you cannot pay for your cancer treatment and find yourself in jail. Dickens spoke up for human rights and dignity for all. We need to do the same.
Updates: Hawaii send prisoners to private prison in Arizona. It doesn’t go well. Story here.
You pay for your prison stay and can get an upgrade if you pay more. Story here.
Also please read the excellent “The Moral Scandal Of American Life” – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast.