Djcnor’s Weblog

The US and Its For-Profit Prisons

Posted on: March 14, 2009

A long time ago, almost 30 years ago now, I took some courses unrelated to any career ambitions. Nevertheless, what I learned in a few of them I have never forgotten. 

One of those courses was criminology. I learned many things that many Americans avoid even considering. I learned how closely crime was connected to poverty. I learned how closely economic class was connected to the types of crimes committed. And I learned that the penalties for crimes committed by the poorest were punished most severly while crimes committed by the richest were punished most leniently. The punishment bore almost no relationship to the amount of damage caused or how many people were hurt by the crime.

Bernie Madoff. Need I say more?

In the UK, there is a woman named Jade Goody dying of cancer. She is a common woman made a celebrity by a stay in the Big Brother house. She has two small sons. And she has been letting the nation watch her attempt to survive, her reaction when told she would not, her last minute wedding and baptism, all with the aim of providing for her boys as best she can after her death.

Essentially, Bernie Madoff has done the same by entirely evil means. He may go to prison for life. But he is 70 years old. Somewhere unreachable there’s enough money stashed away to make sure that his family is set for life. He has caused great suffering to thousands, caused several suicides, caused several charities to shut down, and in the end he has succeeded in his aim. Because what other reason is there to accumulate so much more than what you yourself need than to provide for your family.

There are some other people whose punishments I want you to compare with his. Read this article from The Guardian and ask yourself why it is not at the top at the top of any newscast.

The Proceeds of Crime

The US and British governments have created a private prison industry which preys on human lives.


By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian, 3rd March 2009

It’s a staggering case; more staggering still that it has scarcely been mentioned on this side of the ocean. Last week two judges in Pennsylvania were convicted of jailing some 2000 children in exchange for bribes from private prison companies.

Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan sent children to jail for offences so trivial that some of them weren’t even crimes. A 15 year-old called Hillary Transue got three months for creating a spoof web page ridiculing her school’s assistant principal. Mr Ciavarella sent Shane Bly, then 13, to boot camp for trespassing in a vacant building. He gave a 14 year-old, Jamie Quinn, 11 months in prison for slapping a friend during an argument, after the friend slapped her. The judges were paid $2.6 million by companies belonging to the Mid Atlantic Youth Services Corp for helping to fill its jails(1,2,3). This is what happens when public services are run for profit.”

That’s the beginning of the story. The moment I saw it I knew it deserved a posting. Spread it far and wide. Send it to Obama. Send it to every politician you know. For-profit prisons must end immediately.


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Djcnor’s Weblog

  • @KathrynGoldman Saw your blog post on famous people in fiction. Have character who is supposed to be dead, turns out not to be. OK? 1 year ago
  • I'm back! I haven't posted in a long time, but since Joanie Freeman and I won Charlottesville SOUP, I feel the need to return. 5 years ago
  • Haven't been here on my new iPad. Page looks totally different. Where is the option to reply? And where are the RT's? 6 years ago
  • @The_Puck Same to you. You denial is damaging to yourself and all you care about, assuming there must be some of those. 6 years ago
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