Are taxpayers really saving money?

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A major issue that has been reoccurring among all states is whether or not private prisons save taxpayers money.

Now according to the article Last Resistance, it states how private prisons do save taxpayers money.  In fact, private prisons are much more suitable than public prisons, when it comes to safety and cost.  The only way for private prions to save money is if the “system” doesn’t get corrupted by the government.  If the system does get corrupted by the government, then that’s when these private prisons will become dangerous for the inmates.  According to Hakim and Blackstone who conducted this study believe that

“exposing public prisons to greater competition should lead to lower costs and improved performance of both public and private prisons, because the threat of further privatization leads prisons administrators to make more-determined efforts to reduce costs and induces public employees to temper their demands.”

I have to disagree with the article above.  Private prisons do not save taxpayer’s money at all!  In fact, private prisons cost more to maintain and handle than public prisons.  According to Politics.co.uk, only 23% of the prisons budget is spent on private prisons.  According to Andrew Neilson, who is the director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform stated:

“If the Ministry of Justice is looking at modeling cuts of a further 25% to 40% to the department’s budget, then these figures suggest the solution does not lie in privastising more prisons.  Private prisons have driven down cost thanks to their ability to make savings at scale.”

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Private prisons are just a cover up to exploit prisoners for a profit.  In a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin, it gives a breakdown on how private prisons keep inmates incarcerated longer than they’re supposed to, just so they can increase their profit.  Companies really don’t care if private prisons are saving taxpayer’s money or not, as long as they’re making a profit off of these prisoners, they will continue to support private prisons.

 

Free-Forced Labor

Food Banks Inmates

Prison labor in the United States can be traced back to the mid 19th century. During the post-Civil War era, many prisoners were hired out to continue the slavery culture. Prison labor in the US continues today, but on a much grander scale.

In the article Enlisting Prison Labor to Close Budget Gaps, the authors argue that prison labor is good for US, economically speaking. ‘“There’s special urgency in prisons these days. As state budgets get constricted, the public is looking for ways to offset the cost of imprisonment.’” Aside from making license plates and picking up litter, prisons have expanded on these services to include tasks such as: painting vehicles, cleaning courthouses, sweeping campsites, cleaning animal carcasses from the road, painting cells, repairing leaking public water tanks and many other. These duties formerly performed by private contractors and government employees are helping the state save money. For instance, in Florida were the budget was cut by $4.6 billion, analyst predict that inmate farming could save about $2.4 million a year.

I disagree with the article above because it fails to acknowledge a critical aspect of the prison labor system, free-forced labor. According to an article on Quartz, the Bureau of Prisons require all federal inmates work, unless they have a medical excuse. If prisoners refuse to work, they can be punished with solitary confinement, revoking visitation or loss of recreation time. In addition to being forced to work, inmates are also unfairly compensated. End Slavery Now reports that the average salary for workers fall between $.23-$1.15 per hour. Inmates are also subject to a harsh working environment including no unions, safety regulations, pensions, social security, sick leave, overtime pay or other benefits/protection.

Large corporations are also in on the action too. According to Global Research, at least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations. Some of these businesses include: IBM, Microsoft, Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Target, Starbucks, Revlon, Hewlett-Packard, Walmart, Victoria Secret and many more.

How is it even remotely fair the manner in which these prisoners are being exploited? Laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act should be preventing this from happening right? I mean the FSLA does state that it establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, record  keeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments. Wrong! The Courts have repeatedly ruled that inmates are not protected by labor laws. Just imagine how much profit these corporations and the government is making by paying these inmates substandard wages for performing the same task that a non-inmate would receive at least the minimum wage for. Enough is enough! It’s time for a true reform on the prison labor system in America.

“It’s a big scheme that corporate America and the prison system are just taking advantage [and] exploiting prisoners. And they say [we’re] the criminals. They ought to take a true look at themselves, because they’re the true criminals. We want to be treated as American citizens. We’re not slaves.”

Siddique Hasan

Never-Ending, Self-Fulfilling

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The political cartoon above illustrates the never-ending self-fulling sentencing cycle in the America private prison system. Private prisons sponsor lobby groups that pressure politicians into passing stricter laws. These laws sentence more people to prison for longer periods of times. To keep up with the demand for more space, more private prisons are being built, which brings in more revenue for them.  To keep up the supply of prisoners, they lobby to the government for stricter laws. And the cycle goes on and on and on…