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Kiriakou writes: "Every American should be appalled that there are companies that profit on human misery and that can guarantee a profit only by denying human beings basic medical care and necessities. Moreover, the national conversation should not be one of how to incarcerate more and more people for less and less money, but how to rehabilitate them at a cost far less than incarceration."

Prisoners inside prison yard. (photo: AP)
Prisoners inside prison yard. (photo: AP)

For-Profit Incarceration: Every American Should Be Appalled

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

02 March 16


he country’s two largest private prison corporations, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) released their annual financial reports last week, showing that they each made thousands of dollars in profits per prisoner incarcerated. GEO made a profit of $2,135 per prisoner, while CCA squeezed out $3,356. This is most certainly not cause for celebration.

Indeed, every American should be appalled that there are companies that profit on human misery and that can guarantee a profit only by denying human beings basic medical care and necessities. Moreover, the national conversation should not be one of how to incarcerate more and more people for less and less money, but how to rehabilitate them at a cost far less than incarceration.

The research and policy organization In the Public Interest estimates that the cost of rehabilitation is not only significantly lower than the cost of incarceration, ($35,350 per prisoner in the federal system) it is, in many cases, even lower than the per-person profits of the private prison companies. For example, the annual cost per prisoner of community-based services for arrested teenagers is only $1,000; resources and support for released prisoners re-entering society is $1,200; math, reading, and writing classes in prison are $1,600; vocational training in prison is $2,000; and substance abuse counseling for released prisoners is $2,700. Even residential drug treatment as an alternative to prison is $17,000 per person, less than half the cost of incarceration.

But remember, the goals of GEO and CCA are not to rehabilitate anyone. Those companies only make money if there are more prisoners, if they serve longer sentences, if they reoffend after release, or if the companies can keep costs so low by reducing money spent on food or medical care that they can then pass the savings and profits on to the stockholders.

With that in mind, what are conditions like inside America’s private prisons? I served 23 months in federal prison. Conditions were poor, with food and medical care at the bottom of the barrel. I saw three inmates die because they did not receive adequate medical care. But the federal system is supposed to be the best prison system in the country. I heard fellow prisoners talk about having been in private prisons during the transportation process to federal prison. They told stories about 200 prisoners with access only to one toilet, with a broken seat, no less. They talked about 150 prisoners with access to one television, with fistfights breaking out every hour on the hour over what show to watch.

Toilet seats and televisions are not the main problems in America’s private prisons. A 2013 lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union against the privately-owned East Mississippi Correctional Facility called it “an extremely dangerous facility operating in a perpetual state of crisis, where prisoners live in barbaric and horrific conditions and their basic human rights are violated daily.”

That was only the beginning. The lawsuit detailed “a litany of horrors,” including “rampant rapes; placing prisoners in solitary confinement for weeks, months, or even years at a time, where the only way to get a guard’s attention in an emergency is to set a fire; rat infestations so bad that vermin crawl over prisoners.… The untreated mentally ill throw feces, scream, start fires, electrocute themselves, and self-mutilate.” The ACLU accused prison officials of “denying or delaying treatment for infections or even cancer.” Malnourishment, chronic hunger, stabbings, beatings, and the rape of juveniles housed with adults also were common.

This situation is not unique to East Mississippi. A 2011 ACLU study found that common occurrences in private prisons across the country included “horrifying cases of abuse, including juveniles’ cells smelling of urine and feces, insect infestations, racial segregation, punishment for speaking Spanish, and refusal of medical health treatment.” This isn’t “rehabilitation.” It isn’t even prison. It’s hell.

President Obama has spoken recently of the need for rehabilitation, coupled with incarceration. Rehabilitation is the only way to reduce recidivism. That’s a proven fact. But as long as the justice system farms prisoners out to for-profit prisons, where they are abused and denied their basic human rights and medical care, we are no better than countries with the world’s worst prison systems. There is only one solution. We must close for-profit prisons and swear by a policy to never treat human beings in such a way again. President Obama has the authority to do that singlehandedly. Whether he has the guts to remains to be seen.

John Kiriakou is an associate fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies. He is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+46 # MsAnnaNOLA 2016-03-02 15:01
This is a stain on our country. Even more so that minorities and the mentally ill are incarcerated in such high numbers. The feds have 90% plea deal rate so those people don't even get a trial.
+13 # wrknight 2016-03-03 11:08
Unfortunately, the minorities, the poor and the mentally ill are easy prey for the predators in our society who have taken over the law enforcement/cor rections business.
+42 # cmp 2016-03-02 15:41
~" President Obama has spoken recently of the need for rehabilitation, coupled with incarceration. ... President Obama has the authority to do that singlehandedly. Whether he has the guts to remains to be seen. "~

And, just how many indictments do we have for the "too BIG too jail" bankers?

.. Heck, HSBC was even caught in 2012, "red handed" - laundering Mexican Drug Cartel money through sanctioned Iranian banks.. .. Again, how many indictments??

~“Into this wild-beast tangle these men had been born without their consent, they had taken part in it because they could not help it; that they were in jail was no disgrace to them, for the game had never been fair, the dice were loaded. They were swindlers and thieves of pennies and dimes, and they had been trapped and put out of the way by the swindlers and thieves of millions of dollars.”~
― Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
+28 # rivervalley 2016-03-02 17:53
Obama is a great talker. He says all the right things. Then he does what he's told.
+18 # Femihumanist 2016-03-02 19:03
Quoting mountainview:
Obama is a great talker. He says all the right things. Then he does what he's told.

Yeah. He got a Nobel Prize for oratory.
# Guest 2016-03-02 20:07
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+2 # wrknight 2016-03-03 11:12
Quoting George Tirebiter:
Wow, I didn't know they awarded a Noble prize for oratory.
Now you know.
+38 # grandlakeguy 2016-03-02 18:03
in this abomination.
Bill Clinton paved the way with his crime bills and destruction of the welfare safety net and...
HRC gladly accepts campaign contributions from this "industry"!
+4 # JohnBoanerges 2016-03-02 18:25
Sorry John, if I direct eyes to a place OUTSIDE the 'box' and that is the supreme effort good people might make to eliminate malum in se "crimes", the major reasons that anyone is harassed by 'public' "servants". No victim, no crime, no victim, no crime. And, on the other hand, how can real victims be dealt such a dirty hand?
# Guest 2016-03-02 20:23
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+4 # JohnBoanerges 2016-03-03 08:15
eliminate malum in se "crimes", ?
I thank everyone for realizing that I MEANT to say 'malum prohibitum' and had a brain fart/senior moment.
# Guest 2016-03-03 19:00
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+1 # Billy Bob 2016-03-03 23:35
That's because you're a troll. You just admitted it.
# Guest 2016-03-04 10:41
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+38 # Dumbledorf 2016-03-02 18:37
We are a sick society who has allowed the bankers and big corporations to control us and buy off our politicians, who willingly go along with this game.
They are the ones who created this monetized system of extortion, whereby every aspect of human life is assigned a monetary value and a debt obligation is automatically created out of nothing.

We need to jail the "too big to fail" bankers for ruining our country!
+21 # jwl 2016-03-02 19:15
Yeah, and in private prisons in Mississippi!
+6 # wrknight 2016-03-03 11:22
We have relinquished control of our government to people with corporate mentalities who are self serving rather than serving the public.
+24 # reiverpacific 2016-03-02 20:14
Another example of the Oligarchy that this once vibrant and exciting country has become, by snuffing out dissent and incarcerating hundreds of thousands for trivial "Misdemeanors" or marginal felonies which would be dismissed with a small fine in civilized countries.
Whilst the TRUE dynastic criminals and mass-murderers strut around like latter day Ducés above all prosecution.
I wonder if the for-profit prisons are even on the radar and statistics that gives this "Land of the free" the dubious honor of having the highest locked-up population in the World.
Note this well: -all those who still labor under the illusion that they live in a Democracy.
Private, for-profit healthcare, private for-profit prisons, private for-profit colleges (a real con-game).
Watch y'r water and air quality carefully folks -they're all under threat of privatization and more- while the population snoozes through it's own history.
+17 # TJGeezer 2016-03-02 21:06
Rehabilitation for people who commit victimless crimes? That's ridiculous. They should never have been imprisoned in the first place since "victimless crime" is an oxymoron.

If the U.S. would drop the damned drug war, prisons would empty fast. "Real crime" (with victims) by addicts would drop because black market prices are so inflated and contracts could be enforced without guns. Drug deaths would fall because drugs would be taken off street corners and quality-control led.

Point being, these obscene for-profit prisons would close for lack of custom.

Bernie's trying to throw some reason into the noise, but even if he wins against Firewall Hillary, I doubt he'll be able to accomplish much. Both wings of the Republican Party (the moderate wing being headed headed by the DNC) will fight without mercy to sabotage any meaningful reform.

There's simply too much untracked black market money at stake.
+6 # wrknight 2016-03-03 10:59
You are absolutely right, but the problem is that the entire law enforcement/cor rections business has morphed into an industry whose primary objectives, like those of cancer cells, are self preservation, growth and expansion. The more people they can arrest and jail, the more money they can extort from the public so they can hire more people to arrest and incarcerate more people, and thereby grow stronger, expand and become more profitable. It is like a living cancer on the body of our society.

"Tell me Teemer, does a cancer cell live as long as a healthy cell?" "A cancer
cell is a healthy cell. . ." was the reply that displeased us all, "if strength,
growth, mobility and expansion are the standards." - Closing Time, Joseph Heller, 1994
+15 # Stilldreamin1 2016-03-02 21:27
It's a sick country. Money is god in this perverted country of ours. We were meant to love each other; instead, we prey on each other. Humanity is illegal in America.
+15 # Stilldreamin1 2016-03-02 21:29
If corporations are people, CCA must be held accountable for murder and crimes against humanity
+8 # treerapper 2016-03-03 02:11
It takes more than for-profit prisons to create the incarceration debacle that exists. Billy Boy Clinton's 3- strikes rule and minimum sentencing for misdemeanor crimes plus Judges who are paid to facilitate keeping prison populations at a staggering rate.

Compound that by the loss of civil rights in many states once you have served your time.

An entire system devised to destroy populations of lower class and / or color and make them non-citizens.

What a tragedy inflicted by a bunch of miscreants.
+4 # James Marcus 2016-03-03 11:59
Michael Moore's Movie 'Who to Invade Next' Graphically reveals this Treasonous Inhumane Activity.
I hold The Congress, The Courts and the Apathy/Ignoranc e of the American People responsible.... not 'Corporations'. per se, or 'The Profit Motive'
And who.... are the THUGS imposing such 'Policing'? actually doing the torturing? .....

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