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My Confusion Over For-Profit, "Private," Prisons

Submitted by Thinking CAP on Tue, Mar 3, 2009 - 1:50 am

I must confess I am not sure who promoted a “private” and for-profit prison system and it is not my intent to condemn.  Even though I don’t know names, I feel certain the logic and how it was promoted went like this, “We all know our government is wasteful.  We know our government is inefficient.  Doesn’t it only make sense to turn over the prison system to private enterprise since they make cost effective decisions?”

So here we are.  According to the Pew Center for the States, in 2007 the United States, which has 5% of the world’s population, has 25% of the worlds prisoners.  This equates to 1 prisoner out of 31 people in the US.

Some states are drastically higher.  According to a CNN article, Georgia has 1 in 13 adults in the states “corrections” system.

So one could ask, “Wasn’t it foreseeable that prisons would be like every other ‘private’ business that exists to earn a profit? And to seek to earn more and more profits?”

I am certain, not only has a for-profit prison system been the inspiration for increasingly tough laws, but it has also caused corruption and conflict of interest.  This CNN article describes one such case, I am sure there are others we don’t know about yet. (Yahoo link: )


One of the saddest things I have to face in my mind, is the fact that it has become a profit run prison system in our country. The massive rise of incarceration, since the 1980's, is, reportedly, due to the jailing of, many, non-violent drug criminals. It is a shame that one in three people, us citizens, are involved with incarceration, home detention, or the probation system. We have destroyed the lives of countless people because of this system, controlled by mandatory minimum sentences introduced to help fight the "war on drugs".

Considering that many times, that drug arrest involves cannabis, a very non-lethal drug, is even mind boggling to me! It is very shameful, when one considers the thoughts of Jimmy Carter, one of our presidents who had no trouble voicing his Christianity. He thought that it was more of a crime to punish people for breaking cannabis laws, when the punishment was far more harmful than the drug could ever be. Prohibition did not work for God. He gave us free will. Why do men think they are going to be anymore successful at it?

Now, in addition to all of the police unions, wanting to continue criminalizing a consensual crime, against one's own body, we must also consider all of the correctional officers' unions as well. They both will adamantly fight for the war on drugs. One must wonder about their commitment to fight the "evil drug scourge" when it is a conflict of interest. They benefit by receiving a paycheck, keeping track of, and"caring for" their inmates. If we were to legalize cannabis, and start treating the drug problems people encountered as a medical problem, there would be no more need to incarcerate so many. Thus, the high cost of prisons to this country would be decreased. As would the employment opportunities of the correctional officers' union membership! For profit prisons have turned into a huge shame, as far as I am concerned. They are feeding at the trough of inhumane treatment of our fellow citizens. And, in effect, they just encourage higher incarceration rates!

As a result, the people who make their wages off of the system as it is, will just push for more of the same. Maybe the would push for even harsher laws. It feeds their family! Who cares how much misery it causes to, otherwise, law abiding citizens in this country.

We do have some support, in our cry for change, through LEAP. Officers and legal people, including former judges and narcotics agents, are calling for the end of the, same, crazy, drug war that is destroying our nation. They have come to the reality, long ago, that it is morally wrong to do to our youth the things we have, in the name of fighting an un-winnable drug war. They also speak out on the situation that makes us appear to have racist laws, incarcerating many more blacks than whites for crimes our white race commits, much more commonly! It is a form of institutional racism. And, as a Christian, I want nothing of it.

There is one shining light I see at the end of this tunnel. The money that is used for paying for these excesses our society seems to languish in, will soon be drying up. Roosevelt realized the fallacy of continuing the prohibition of alcohol. As much as the present drug prohibition crowd wishes, the facts are that the end of crime syndicates did not come at the hands of law enforcement. Elliot Ness, and his cohorts, were no more successful in eliminating the illegal alcohol racket, than the modern day Nesses are at eliminating the use of illegal drugs, in this country.

And, with the economic situation worsening every day, corruption is going to become a more common way for those same correctional officers, and corrupt officials, to make sure they have an income to feed their families. It happened back then and it is happening now. It is just going to get worse, until the people of this country can think out of the box and use their brains. We must change things.

The way it is right now, kids can get drugs easier than they can get alcohol or cigarettes. By leaving it in the hands of the mobs, we are giving them our kids on a silver platter. Dealers don't card. They will sell as much as they can, no matter how old your kids are. If we leave it the way it is, your kids will continue to find it easy to get drugs at school. (remember the "cheese"deaths in Texas last year?) We can't keep drugs out of prison. How, in the world, are we going to keep them out of the schools. Continuing the status quot, means we won't. Do you really care about your kids? Consider changing the laws. Consider regulating cannabis like alcohol. Let's do it to keep it away from our kids. Otherwise, we act like we don't care one bit about what happens to them!

And, that might just help us deal with the raging drug war in Mexico, getting ready to spill over the border, en mass, some time soon. The illegality of the drugs is what is driving that problem. Eliminate cannabis sales and up to 70% of their profits would be gone. No more billions, of dollars, to the Mexican mob to use in their deadly war between themselves, the Mexican army, and the people of Mexico! That is what broke Al Capone and the Chicago mob. The war, on illegal alcohol, was never, really, won!

And, most of all, everyone needs to get educated as to the facts on the absolute dangers of drugs and alcohol. We must learn, so we can tell our kids, with knowledge, exactly what the risks, of drinking and smoking cannabis (and doing even worse drugs), actually are. They know what they are being told, by the present TV commercials, is loaded with propaganda and lies. They just laugh at the government commercials on TV. And, some have even said it seems to encourage them to do such things. It makes them think "If the government is not truthful about the actual harms of pot maybe they are not truthful about the drugs that say can kill you!" Don't let your kids be pulled into that trap! Let them know that alcohol use is for adults and dangerous for kids. And, anything they put into their body, like pot, (according to the limited scientific knowledge we have on cannabis in kids), could be dangerous, as well. Kids just don't need it!

It says in the Bible "my people perish from the lack of knowledge" That applies to learning all you can about drugs so your kids will know the truth. And, most of all, don't lie to you kids. That is the dumbest thing a parent can do. Ask any adolescent! Honest discourse will help keep your kid away from experimental drug use. That is just one stress they don't need to add to their young lives!

But, I encourage all of us to also reconsider that age at which a child becomes an adult. Since a young man or woman can now enlist in the armed forces at age 18 and die for their country, I feel we need to treat them as adults, from that point on, so far as legal alcohol consumption is concerned. Apparently the 21 year old age limit has had minimal effect on our youth and alcohol related fatalities, according to research. It just makes sense, to me, to treat 18 year olds as adults!

And, I have, just, one more interesting, little, thought. How many people do you know that will start smoking pot if it becomes legal. The fact is not all people drink alcohol. Likely, not all people will choose to use cannabis, even if it is legal! I venture to say, that not many more than smoke it right now!

Michael G Langley, MD

Believe it or not, it is completely legal, in many places, to give your own son, or daughter, alcohol, and teach them about responsible drinking! You just can't supply for other kids. (But we are not talking about partying here!) We can still teach kids responsible drinking habits. The fact is, parents want someone else to do their job, nowadays! My parents ' rarely, drank alcohol. I did not until it was legal for me to do so. I rarely drink it, maybe a few times a year. That makes me an alcoholic by my parents' standards!

The definition of an alcoholic, is a person who drinks more than their doctor!

The definition of an alcoholic, is a person who drinks more than their doctor!

Ha. I'd not heard this.

I was aware that parents could give their own kids things with alcohol in them. I haven't dug up the numbers, but from what I've heard, this is the reason given for why European countries have a smaller incidence of alcoholism.