Friday, April 6, 2012

The Nation: Opinion: Sasha Abramsky: Arizona's Private Prisons: A Bad Bargain

The Nation: Opinion: Sasha Abramsky: Arizona's Private Prisons: A Bad Bargain

This post was originally posted at FRS FreeStates on WordPress

If you look at what the main role of government is anywhere, its to protect society in an effective way that’s cost-effective. Thats the main reason why we pay taxes anywhere. If government can’t protect society, then we would be stuck living in a constant state of anarchy. Where we wouldn’t be free to live our own lives, because of a constant state of danger. If you look at what the main role of the for-profit sector or corporations, its to make money. If they are not able to do that, then they go out of business. So if you’re running a private prison, your job is to make money for that prison. The more inmates you have, the more money you make at taxpayer expense. The more laws you have, the more inmates you’ll have to make the most money you can.

If government can’t protect its society, then they are useless. And we would live in a constant state of anarchy. Where they wouldn’t be able to perform any other public service. Because of all the constant lawlessness. If corporations can’t make money, then they become useless and go out of business. The main role of prisons is to protect society from criminals that are guilty and represent a threat to society. But then release them from prison, after they serve their sentence. And no longer represent a threat to society. If you’re running a private prison, its in your financial interest to have as many inmates in your prison as possible to make as much money as you can from taxpayers. And even keep them in prison longer then their original sentence.

I understand the feeling that states have to cut their corrections costs. And to save money on their corrections systems. Especially in these tough economic times, where budgets are very tight. But private prisons with their lobbyists lobbying for as many new laws as possible, with Prison Sentences as long as possible is not the way to do that. The way to do this is not to have what libertarian Professor Milton Friedman called “Bad Laws”. Laws that put people in prison for what they do to themselves. Rather than how they hurt society. Take our drug laws and Laws against gambling and prostitution to use as examples and then put back prison industries and put your inmates to work. So they can pay for their living expenses.

People shouldn’t be making money off of “Bad Laws”. Especially at taxpayer expense. And inmates shouldn’t be in prison longer so corporations can make profits. What we need to do with our prisons is have real rehabilitation, education and work. So our inmates can cover their Living expenses and work. And not have to come back to prison in the future.