Menu Close

Prisons for Profit

“A world of secret passions is perverting the men who make your laws.” Frank Zappa

Part 1

Can imprisonment of people for profit ever have been conceived as a business venture with the intent of profiting financially? Most emphatically, YES.

April M. Short reports: 

Imagine living in a country where prisons are private corporations that profit from keeping their beds stocked at, or near, capacity and the governing officials scramble to meet contractual “lockup quotas.” Imagine that taxpayers would have to pay for any empty beds should crime rates fall below that quota. Surprise! You already live there.
A new report from In the Public Interest (ITPI) revealed last week that private prison companies are striking deals with states that contain clauses guaranteeing high prison occupancy rates. The report, “Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and ‘Low-Crime Taxes’ Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations,” documents the contracts exchanged between private prison companies and state and local governments that either guarantee prison occupancy rates (essentially creating inmate lockup quotas) or force taxpayers to pay for empty beds if the prison population decreases due to lower crime rates or other factors (essentially creating low-crime taxes).
Some of these contracts require 90 to 100 percent prison occupancy.
In a letter to 48 state governors in 2012, the largest for-profit private prison company in the US, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), offered to buy up and operate public state prisons. In exchange, states would have to sign a 20-year contract guaranteeing a 90 percent occupancy rate throughout the term.
The report notes that contract clauses like this incentivize criminalization, and do nothing to promote rehabilitation, crime reduction or community building.
[These contracts run] “counter to many states’ public policy goals of reducing the prison population and increasing efforts for inmate rehabilitation,” the report states.
When policymakers received the 2012 CCA letter, some worried the terms of CCA’s offer would encourage criminal justice officials to seek harsher sentences to maintain the occupancy rates required by a contract. Policy decisions should be based on creating and maintaining a just criminal justice system that protects the public interest, not ensuring corporate profits.

SOURCE: Short, A.M. (2013, Sept 23) ‘6 shocking revelations about how private prisons make money.’ Salon.

Part 2

Martin Heidegger, in his Delphic manner, examined ‘technology.’ He divined that technology can turn people into ‘product.’ He coined the phrase ‘standing reserve’: 

…[noting] the expression ‘human resources’ aligns human beings with raw materials such as coal or petroleum.
But because humanity is, as it were, in the ‘driver’s seat’ of technological advances, humanity never completely becomes mere raw material…. we can only control the way we orient ourselves, our thinking and our actions, in relation to such resources.

SOURCE: Guide to Krell, D. F. (1993). Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings. San Francisco: Harper.

This is a rather insufficient backdown, because, by God, prisons for profit are actually using warm, incarcerated bodies with the intent of profiting financially.

It is a wonder that Heidegger did not catch sight of the diabolical, fiendish and disgusting way his Nazi overlords were using, in most horrific manner, humans and human society as raw matter, not for profit, but for disgusting theories of racial superiority, nationalism and sickening ethnocentrism. 

For me, the government is the commons ( The definition from the Digital Library of the Commons is: “the commons is a general term for shared resources in which each stakeholder has an equal interest.”, and as such is charged with the care of that part of the community that has become delinquent. Prisons for profit is a scrofulous disfigurement of business that cracks the whip against the back of its client governments. Give us a 90% or more occupancy. Law enforcement and the courts, charged to serve and protect, and rehabilitate, are put to the task of social engineering, turning prisoners into Frankensteinian goods and services. 

This, in my judgment, is morally indefensible.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *