Reforms in US Private Prisons

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There are two kinds of jails in the United States: federal and private. The criminal enforcement unit is an important aspect of the justice system and it is in charge of apprehending and convicting lawbreakers. According to Bureau of Justice statistics, private prisons held approximately 7% of non-profit company prisoners in 2015, while federal prisons held 18%. (Dolovich 445). Furthermore, the US Immigration Department estimated that private prisoners held nearly three-quarters of federal immigration inmates in 2016. The supporters of the private prisons voiced the opinion that the federal government may save money through privatization of the state’s prisons. However, evidence proved that these private prisons could be more expensive than the state ones. Moreover, the private jails have also been linked to the many cases of violence and abominable conditions. It is evident that the population rates of the US Federal prisons have decreased and this has led to the repopulation of these prisons with the closure of the private jails (Douglas-Bowers). Besides, the history of slaves in the US that is backed up with the arrest of people who have committed small non-violent crimes can be considered as a contributing factor to the relationship that exists between the private prison and the labor companies that these slaves worked. As a result of the increased need to protect the citizens in jails, the justice system has enacted laws and legislation through companies such as American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, and other corporations to advocate for the rights of the inmates (Fischer). The justice system is almost closing the private prisons in the US, and thus it is indeed true that reforms should take place in the US private prisons.

The population rates have dropped in the US federal prisons enabling a repopulation of inmates to these prisons that may lead to the closure of the private prisons. Since President Obama took office in 2008, he focused on reducing crime rates in the United States. The president of a particular state plays a role in determining the size of the federal prison population. 0ther factors responsible for the number of inmates in prison are; crime rates, the sentencing patterns, and the law enforcement practices (Sanburn). For instance, since 2008, the crime rates have sharply decreased in the US. Moreover, the presidents play a role in designing and executing the federal criminal justice policies and thus determine the prison population. President Obama was dedicated to reforming the criminal justice issues during his terms in the presidency. He emphasized on lighter sentences and punishments for those judged with lower crimes. It is, therefore, evident that during Obama’s presidency, there have been changes in the federal prison population and thus one can conclude that the private prisons do not provide the same level of correctional punishment, resources, and programs. This is the main reason of their under population that may is contributing to their closure if no reforms are made (Long). Moreover, they are not saving substantially on cost, and they do not maintain the same level of security and safety. The private prisons need to undergo changes so as to increase the population in these facilities (Sanburn). I suggest that the reformers should focus on providing the same correctional services across all prisons for the same punishment, focus on saving the costs of operation, and maintain the same level of safety in these prisons.

Furthermore, the justice department is seeking to end the use of the private prisons or scale back the contract signed with them. Most of the inmates are held in state prisons and local jails. The federal government has been pressurized to end the contract with the private prisons’ operators. The supporters to the closure of these facilities argue that the prisons are not saving the state any cost and thus there is no need of using them. The justice department has enacted policy reforms collectively referred to as justice reinvestment (Dolovich 460). They are focusing on controlling the corrections growth, improving the public safety, and containing the taxpayers’ costs. These policies differ from state to state despite having a common aim of limiting the use of privately-operated prisons. The changes in private prisons have to be adapted soonest before they close. The operational costs in these prisons have to be aimed at reducing the government money so as to give the meaning of using the private prisons to house the inmates (Fischer). The reformers have to focus n saving the costs and increasing the safety of the criminals.

Moreover, looking at the history of slavery especially the people who were arrested for crop sharing and committing small and non-violent crimes and held in private prison can provide significant information on the relationship of private prisons and the labor markets. These slaves were forced to work as slaves legally with little pay but with substantial profit for the jail. This brings out the strong connection between the private prisons and the labor markets that companies would have work done by locked up inmates for free. The US did not stand for the poor slaves in America (Douglas-Bowers). An employer used the punishment industry to the private prison where they would link up with labor companies who would use the inmates as sources of free labor. The private prisons resonate with slavery that marks a level of human bondage and lack of freedom. The connection between slavery and imprisonment has been part of the basic political strategy to carry out reforms as a way of responding to the decreasing population of inmates in the prisons. I suggest that to make the change, the private prisons need to create an abolitionist movement that is deliberately intended to end slavery in prisons. Convicts should be protected by a law that does not mistreat them even though they are locked behind bars (Sanburn). There should be minimum penalties for every crime, and great punishments should not punish small offenses. The prisons should never link with labor corporations to provide them with free services from the inmates because this is a form of slavery. The locked people have a right to freedom and pay for services given to companies. The mass imprisonment witnessed in the US even for small mistakes committed is seen as a way of coercing freed slaves into becoming wage laborers for the private corporations (Long). I suggest that the private prison reforms should include policies that protect the inmates against any form of slavery and misuse. The change will also cut any connection between the privately-operated prisons and the labor corporations. A convict should serve their punishments as guarded by the law so as to end the slavery in these facilities.

Besides, the connection between slavery and the private prisons has led to the emergence of laws and legislation regarding the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC and other companies that express conflict of interest. ALEC seeks to identify friendly state lawmakers and work with them so as to have a special-interest law introduced. Often this action is a win-win situation for the corporations and the legislators but a losing state to the citizens because their rights and interests are traded to the highest bidder (Fischer). David Koch and Charles devoted themselves in reforming the US criminal justice department. However, part of their reforming agenda was to protect the prosecution of corporate violators. Therefore, it would be harder to imprison executives and their employees thus protecting their financial interest at the expense of the public. The Koch’s reform agenda to increase the intent standards for white collar crimes has been elaborated because it would reap benefits for companies and other executive players. The US citizens are increasingly speaking against the power of corporations in shaping the public policy and manipulate the government. The ALEC Corporation is an example of how the corporate can buy power and clout the government rather than serving the interest of the public (Fischer).

The US justice system needs reforms that should not be championed by corporations such as ALEC. This is because the body does not consider the interest of the citizens in the process of legislation. Many corporations in the US think ALEC as a wise investment. On the contrary, ALEC represents a risk to the credibility of the political authorities to serve the interest of the electorate. ALEC also threatens the confidence and the influence the citizens have in the government. The private prisons need reforms that are aimed at protecting the interest of the citizens.

Works Cited

Dolovich, Sharon. “State Punishment and Private Prison.” Duke Law Journal 55.3 (2005): 438-463.

Douglas-Bowers, Devon. “Slavery By Another Name: The Convict Lease System.” Criminal Justice (2013).

Fischer, Brendan. “After a Controversial Year, ALEC Convenes in Washington with Damage Control at Top of Agenda.” 29 November 2013. The Centre for Media and Democracy.

Long, Heather. “U.S. Justice Department to end use of private prisons.” 18 August 2016. CNN News.

Sanburn, Josh. “The U.S. Is Ending Private Prisons for Federal Inmates. So Where Will the Prisoners Go?” 19 August 2016. The Crime.

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