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Stay in Faith, A better life is on the horizon

Social Justice Blog

Social Justice Blog

Profiteering from Incarceration

Posted on April 3, 2015 at 10:15 PM


Society's response to the convicted criminal seems to be to lock them up and throw away the key. I see a certain amount of righteousness about this attitude especially among the politicians. But there is also a lot of fear in society that I think the politicians have fed on that fear as well as feed the fear (Alexander, 2012). Too often the laws on criminality seem to be written in mind for the profit which can be generated from prisoners. One only has to look at the for profit jails.  Many of these for-profit prisons go into rural communities promising jobs. Based on these promises the rural counties or small towns will often help build the prison for the private for-profit companies.

What does building an economy based on prisons do for a society? It forces them to find more prisoners and criminals.

What happens when that prison closes? The city or county is often left on the hook for bigger bills because the county or towns floated bonds to pay for the building.  These additional debts now prevent the local government from being able to maintain their daily operation.


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When society pays for warehousing prisoners in these for-profit prisons, they help them maximize their profits. They maximize profits by cutting services such as lowering the amount guards, medical care, and food quality and/or quantity.


I wonder what would happen, if instead of paying the for-profit prisons for how many beds they filled, we paid them based on their lack of recidivism rate? The lower the rate of recidivism the more the prison would get paid. Or we could pay the prisons for the number of prisoners who earned GED or receive certificates in the trades. Again Jon Oliver's program points this out very well where he notes that a for profit prison, promotes the reason to invest in their company stock is because of their high recidivism rate.


Society needs to ask itself what it wants to see when a prisoner is released. Are they going to see a person who is better trained to be a criminal when released from jail or are they going to see someone who has some pride in himself because he now has a GED or certificate in a trade. Who would you feel safer to have returned to your town?



Alexander, M. (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color blindness. New York, NY: The New Press.


All rights reserved Copyright © 2015 Guy R. Grant



Categories: Reducing Recidivism