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prison capital of the world

Exerpts here from an excellent article are intended to tempt you to go read it there. The real short summary is:
The prison system IS NOT doing what we wish it would.
It creates more crime, rather than reduce crime.
The USA has more slaves today than at the start of the Civil War.

Click on the title below to read the full article, complete with links to supporting documents.

World’s Prison Capital is Also #1 in For-Profit Prisons


Joe Wright
Activist Post

The world’s prison capital is not the United States, per capita, although it leads the world for its overall prison population. One state far outdoes America itself and incarcerates nearly double the national average.

First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s. (Source)

The U.S. prison business has become the essence of predatory corporatism: it privatizes profits and socializes losses. This combination has led to a situation where correctional facilities have very little incentive to correct the behavior of those who reside within their walls, but every incentive to ensure that new bodies arrive as fast as possible, and keep them in a state of indentured servitude.

America already holds 25% of the world’s prison population, with the number of these prisoners held in private prisons rising dramatically over the past 10 years from 2,000 housed in 5 private prisons, to more than 60,000 housed in 100. It is a number expected to rise to 360,000 prisoners over the next decade. (Source) Moreover, as the economy declines, there has even been a revival in debtors prisons, formally abolished in the early 1800s. Perhaps more troubling is the heightened criminalization of children for behavior which previously was considered merely a nuisance, not something worthy of handcuffs and the big house.

A human product clearly has been created and fostered by a system which values the worth of potential inmates as greater than their worth as free human beings. This has led to a captive population that can be put to work creating goods for a multitude of industries for as little as 25 cents per hour, effectively creating a growing resurgence in open slavery; all while a misinformed majority believe that more people under lock and key translates to safer neighborhoods, towns and cities.

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The states write the legislation that paves the way for more criminals to be guaranteed lengthier stays within prison walls where corporate profits can be reaped for shareholders. It is the worst of both worlds.

As we see the nation’s prison populations swell, and observe the concurrent swelling of corporate prison bottom lines, we must look at the ramifications to judge if this is a model worth supporting.

With the highest percentage of its citizens locked up in a for-profit system, Louisiana should be a safe, economically prosperous state if this model is effective in aggressively removing all of the bad elements that threaten society. What we see, however, is the exact opposite: Louisiana is one of the most poverty stricken, uneducated, and dangerous states in the union. The next generation is effectively punished as well by having one or both parents locked away, while the funding needed to potentially break the cycle is diverted toward building more lockups:

Louisiana spends about $663 million a year to feed, house, secure and provide medical care to 40,000 inmates. Nearly a third of that money — $182 million — goes to for-profit prisons, whether run by sheriffs or private companies.

‘Clearly, the more that Louisiana invests in large-scale incarceration, the less money is available for everything from preschools to community policing that could help to reduce the prison population,’ said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, a national criminal justice reform group.

A nation that still purports to be the Land of the Free simply cannot continue to say that slogan with a straight face when it has literally invested in slavery. A predatory system — even if some believe it only preys on other predators — can only lead to a ruined social landscape like that of Louisiana; a state which should be more properly viewed as a canary in the coal mine for what lies in wait for the rest of America should it fully embrace the monetary value of a prison society.