With Liberty And Justice For ALL??? Part 1: Addressing The Epidemic Of Mass Incarceration In America

James Johnson

By James Johnson

According to recent data from the International Center For Prison Studies, the United States currently has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Isn’t it ironic that a country which holds itself out as being the “Land Of The Free” incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other nation? According to Wikipedia, in 2008 approximately 1 out of every 31 adults in America was behind bars or being monitored (on probation or parole). Ironic as well is the fact that while African-Americans only account for roughly 13% of America’s entire population, they account for approximately 40% of America’s prison and jail population. Recent studies indicate that by age 23 approximately 49% of African-American males will have been incarcerated.

For the countless tycoons who’ve invested in America’s prison industry, it’s as though they’ve discovered a “jackpot” of sorts. The prison industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. It’s also imperative to note that private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner regardless of what it costs to maintain each individual.

Founded in Nashville, Tennessee on January 28, 1983 by Tom Beasley, Dr. Robert Crants, and T. Don Hutto, Corrections Corporation Of America (CCA) is the largest private corrections company in the United States. In 2012, CCA propositioned prison officials in 48 states to buy their prisons in exchange for a 20 year management contract and a guaranteed occupancy rate of 90%. In layman’s terms, this meant that they were willing to purchase the prisons as long as each state agreed to keep their prisons 90% full over the course of the next 20 years. This proposal depicts the underlying motives of the prison industrial complex in America. For these corporations, no longer is incarceration a matter of punishment or rehabilitation. On the contrary, for these corporations incarceration is merely a matter of profit. It’s big business, and inmates are the hot commodity.

The Wackenhut Corporation was founded in Coral Gables, Florida in 1954 by George Wackenhut and three partners (all former FBI agents). After expanding into providing food services for U.S. prisons in the 1960’s, Wackenhut launched a subsidiary in 1984 to design and manage jails and detention centers for the burgeoning private prison market. This then made Wackenhut the nation’s second largest for-profit prison operator. Since 1999, Wackenhut has appeared in U.S. federal courts at least 62 times, largely resulting from prisoner’s accusations of human rights violations. They’ve also been accused of attempting to maximize profits in their private prisons at the expense of rehabilitation, counseling, and literacy programs. In 2002, the company was acquired for approximately 570 million dollars by Danish corporation Group 4 Falck, which in 2004 merged to form the British company G4S. In 2010, the company changed its name to G4S Secure Solutions.

In light of this information, it’s no wonder why America’s prisons are overcrowded. These investors as well as countless others have absolutely no interest in the safety of the general public or in the rehabilitation of the “criminal mind”. Their interest lies solely in seeing their investments grow at ALL costs. They have no intent on aiding inmates to rehabilitate themselves and become productive members of society. For them to do so would be to contribute to their own demise since a productive member of society is less likely to return to prison and is much more likely to positively impact the lives of others, thus deterring them from making counterproductive choices.

As many of our elected officials continue to push for tougher laws and harsher sentences, don’t be blind to their ulterior motives. Their charismatic demeanor would lead you to believe that they have the safety of society as their priority. However, before endorsing any politician, take the time to conduct an in-depth investigation of your own into their past and background. Upon doing so, you’re almost certain to find that many, if not all of them, are merely engaged in political pandering as they seek to carry out their own personal agendas while enhancing their own lucrative lifestyles.

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