Prisons, Privatization, Patronage
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: June 26th, 2012
The New York Times has published several terrifying reports about New Jerseys system of halfway houses privately run adjuncts to the regular system of prisons. The horrors described are part of a broader pattern in which essential functions of government are being both privatized and degraded. So whats really behind the drive to privatize prisons? One answer is that privatization can serve as a stealth form of government borrowing, in which governments avoid recording upfront expenses (or even raise money by selling existing facilities) while raising their long-run costs in ways taxpayers cant see. Another answer is that privatization is a way of getting rid of public employees. But the main answer, surely, is to follow the money. As more and more government functions get privatized, states become pay-to-play paradises, in which both political contributions and contracts for friends and relatives become a quid pro quo for getting government business. One thing the companies that make up the prison-industrial complex are definitely not doing is competing in a free market. They are, instead, living off government contracts. And ... despite many promises that prison privatization will lead to big cost savings, such savings as a comprehensive study by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, concluded have simply not materialized. A corrupt nexus of privatization and patronage [is] undermining government across much of our nation.
Note: Few are aware that violent crime rates have dropped to 1/3 of what they were in 1993, yet prison spending continues to skyrocket. Is something wrong with this picture? For key major media new articles exposing more on corruption within the "prison-industrial complex," click here.