Today on Blogcritics
Home » On the Evils of Privatizing America’s Prison System

On the Evils of Privatizing America’s Prison System

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

In contemporary political discourse there is a fierce debate over the privatization of America’s penitentiary system. The late Michel Foucault in his book Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison articulates the foundations with which the penitentiary system first took root. It is not my intention to offer an analysis of Foucault’s argument, but I am interested in engaging in an ongoing discussion concerning the morality of privatizing the penitentiary system.

The private nature of a corporation is based on and fueled by the exchange of goods or services for capital. In effect, consumers pay for a service or a product. The question, then, one must ask is whether in the privatization of the penitentiary system  investors and shareholders are providing either a service or a product. There are those that argue what is readily apparent, that is, shareholders are providing a service, and that service is the incarceration of human beings. Others, however, namely proponents of the rehabilitative facets of incarceration, argue that the product is a fully rehabilitated and productive member of society, once the prisoner has been freed.

It is my view that either argument for the privatization of the penitentiary system based on service or product is fundamentally flawed. First, if one were to assume the stance that the privatization of the penitentiary system facilitates providing a service, insofar as potential criminals are incarcerated, then one must also recognize that the same market conditions that apply to any market, including this market of privatizing the prison system must also, therefore, apply. Thus, market conditions necessitate that the market will always seek the lowest bid for the highest level of service, which presents the problem of the quality of service rendered.

For example, in the growing demands for neoliberal outsourcing of labor, a corporation would best serve its shareholders if it could outsource its domestic labor, which is clearly less cost effective, to international laborers and thereby increase their profit margins in the cost saved to employ an international labor force. This has become a fairly standard practice. Now, if we translate that concept of outsourced labor to our current discussion of the privatization of America’s penitentiary system, then I can assure you that the next logical conclusion that will surely follow is outsourcing our penitentiary system.

There is a difference, however, in discussing the outsourcing of say customer service agents, which replaces domestic representatives with international ones, and physically outsourcing human beings to serve their incarceration abroad. Though this would make a fascinating fictional account, it is unnerving to recognize just how close to reality these prospects are.

Human beings, unlike products, often reject any and all attempts at objectification. Granted, there is more than one exception to this claim. However, as the philosopher Immanuel Kant noted we are to be treated as an end and not as a means to an end. What Kant is suggesting is that we are ends-in-themselves. We are to be treated as autonomous human beings irrespective of the crimes we have committed (a further claim that is extremely controversial).

On the one hand, the suggestion that the privatization of the penitentiary system benefits us insofar as it provides a service necessitates a terrible volatile discussion on the outsourcing of human beings. It would be the end of the career of any politician who endorsed such a view. On the other hand, human beings are not products and to attempt to objectify their existence for a return on capital is a morally and ethically unacceptable.

Powered by

About Jason J. Campbell

  • Jordan Richardson

    I might not be too up on my current politics in America, but I’ve yet to come across the “fierce debate” over privatizing the prison system. Can you – or somebody, as you’ve mentioned you don’t reply to comments on your own articles – point me in the direction of this discussion in a modern context? Who is discussing this? What are the positions?

    Where can I find a more contemporary dialogue on this topic that doesn’t defer to Kant or Foucault?

  • http://jasonjcampbell.org/home.php Jason J. Campbell

    Good morning Jordan…to clarify, I don’t debate about what I write (sorry), but I do respond to inquires. Here are a few sources you can review. It’s a relatively fierce debate in Academic journals. So if you don’t read many academic journals it may seem as if it’s not such a hotly contested topic, but it is. It’s my view that any quantitative review of the prison system must discuss Foucault. As you’ll see from some of the publication dates, it’s actually an old argument.

    Glad to help:

    Private Prisons. Richard Harding Crime and Justice, Vol. 28, (2001), pp. 265-346. Published by: The University of Chicago Press

    Determinants of the Costs of Operating Large-Scale Prisons with Implications for the Cost of Correctional Standards,William N. Trumbull, Ann D. Witte. Law & Society Review, Vol. 16, No. 1 (1981 – 1982), pp. 115-138. Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the Law and Society Association.

    Well Kept: Comparing Quality of Confinement in Private and Public Prisons Charles H. Logan The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-), Vol. 83, No. 3 (Autumn, 1992), pp. 577-613 Published by: Northwestern University.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Your article contends that this is an issue in “contemporary political discourse,” yet the references you list (thank you for those, by the way) have as their most recent date the year 2001. I’m curious how contemporary this is and how “political” this actually is beyond circles of “academic journals,” as you say.

    In other words, is this an actual modern political issue in the sense of say, the fictional “War on Terror” or the economy? I guess I’m curious as to how much of a pressing, current matter this is in terms of today’s modern government in the United States. Or, conversely, is it one of many ages-old issues that simply never passes from view?

    By the way, while I appreciate your position on not debating about what you write, you do note that you are “interested in engaging in an ongoing discussion about the morality of privatizing the penitentiary system.” If we could contextualize this discussion to a greater degree, would you participate in the discussion and debate?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Jordan,

    Yes, I can.
    I was alerted to the issue by Ms Catherine Austin Fitts, a Wall Street insider once but no longer. The piece you want to look at is Dillon, Read and Company, and the Aristocracy of Stock Profits.
    It’s her memoirs while she was a member of that very prominent and highly connected Wall Street investment firm. It’s eighteen separate but connected pieces: at least three of them deal specifically with this subject.

    I also refer you to my own piece on the subject, The Case for Fraud: our “prison industry”, which is a short summary of her position, supplemented with a few other sources. Glad to be of help.

    Roger

  • http://jasonjcampbell.org/home.php Jason J. Campbell

    lol…Jordan you are engaging to say the least. To be honest I don’t have a problem discussing, that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life but I know a lot of the topics I write about are really emotional and I try not to piss people off or have them get to me, so I keep a respectable distance. Nevertheless, to begin a discussion [I concede :-)]You’re probably right in saying it’s not pressing in contemporary journalism, like the NY times or the Washington Post. I won’t argue with that. But I have a feeling that this topic may become a hot topic, and it certainly (in my view) should be discussed because of the ramifications. I will concede the point that it is fierce in a journalistic sense. You know we philosophers call the modern era any thing after the 17th century :) It just thought about it yesterday in relation to Gitmo being closed and the deportation of prisoners…that’s all…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Jordan,

    I should mention, by the way, concerning my previous entry, that the references I provided do not really represent any significant debate or discussion of the matter, other than trying to present the situation I believe in a fairly objective light.

    Since I posted it, however, I noticed that Mr. Campbell was kind enough to respond to your query as well: so if it is the debate/discussion aspect that you’re mainly interested in, it would be best if you take advantage of the sources he provided you with. Good luck and thank you for your interest.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Jordan,

    Very good idea, by the way, what you said, about “contextualizing this discussion to a greater degree.” I would be willing to participate as well.

    As an aside, however, I am beginning to lean toward Mr. Campbell’s position of limiting my discussion time on the pages of BC. I must say that my experience thus far has been mostly one of frustration; however, once in a while, I manage to have a good enough conversation with a soul or two, and that almost makes up for it. So no, I haven’t given up yet. I’m still here.

    Roger

  • http://jasonjcampbell.org/home.php Jason J. Campbell

    lol…I’m here with you Roger…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Since I’ve got your attention, Jason, I’d like to provide one reference. It belongs to your other article, on diplomacy, but no matter.

    “God and Gold” is an excellent account of the Anglo-Saxon paradigm of “peaceful” Western expansion for the past 300 or so years until today, in terms of opening the markets, and so on. It’s a form of diplomacy. The author is Walter Russell Mean from CFR (not a savory organization, to say the least) but it’s a very cogent presentation. The paradigm seems to be cracking, and I haven’t seen any comment from the author since the book first came out in print, which is disappointing. Still, it’s material worth looking into.

    Roger

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    On privatizing the prison system –

    That’s operating a prison on the ‘profit motive’…meaning, the more prisoners you have, the more money you make. Which means at some point the administrators will think, “Hm – so-and-so’s up for parole, but if we screw him over, we make more money!” This WILL happen.

    Yes, prison systems are notoriously corrupt – but privatizing them only adds another layer of corruption…the ‘profit motive’.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Glenn,

    This really is an outrage. This is one issue, I believe (as opposed to the one you discussed in the other article) that should be brought to public attention. Jason’s article and comments make reference to polemical and legal issues; the references I provided above are hard data and facts. What’s really at stake and the bottom line here: there is a vested interest in keeping people incarcerated and for as long as possible, the more the better. And yes, there is very little public debate on the matter, whether during the past or the Clinton administration. The entire idea (or privatization) was sold of course and bought in name of “efficiency.” This is an outrage.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Correction to #9 It should read Walter Russell Mead.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Roger,

    Thanks for the links. Gonna do a little digging and some reading later on and see what I can learn.

    Jason,

    Thanks. I appreciate and admire your ability to take on contentious issues such as this one. I do note the relevance, especially in light of the recent Gitmo advances, and am glad that I am starting to understand this in a bit of a broader context. Bear with me, I’m merely a lowly film/music critic.

    :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Jordan,

    Let me provide you with one word of encouragement. One of the first things my philosophy mentor had said to the class of undergraduates taking Philosophy 101 was that there were too sophisticated. To really learn and start thinking you have to become like a child, and become open to new ideas and suggestions. So your being, as you say, a “lowly film/music critic” is only an advantage as far as I can see: you have not been corrupted enough by the conventional wisdom and professions to think that you know it all. There is no better start.

    Roger

  • Mark Eden

    Keep you eye on these guys. Hell of an investment opportunity in a major growth industry. They opperated in New Mexico under the name Wackenhut with wonderfully awful results.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Yeah, Mark,

    Weren’t Wackenhut one of the first to have started it in Texas somewhere, connected to Halliburton, too?

  • Mark Eden

    Rog, the Halliburton connection is a new one to me…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I’ll look at a few sources, Mark, and if I’m right, I’ll post it here. I saw by the way your heated discussion with Dave. I’d told him he’d better stick to satire (at which he is good), so rather than offending people with tilted and partisan views, at least he might disarm them. But I don’t think he’ll take my advice to heart.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Wackenhut. What a great name for a prison operating company.

    Just imagine their advertising campaigns:

    “Wackenhut. We’ll take your prisoners, put ‘em in a hut and whack ‘em. Problem solved.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I think “Hut & Whack” would be more fitting.

  • paulwhoispablo

    Mark Eden,

    Not surprising that you do not know about Wackenhut buddy, I have known about them for some 25 odd years Mark. They also do much of the private contract work for the Department of Engergy at their nuclear test site in Mercury Nevada, and are a bunch of right wing extremists. In short they are a goon squad, and the fact that they have been running private prisons for the department of Justice should send chills down any freedom loving person. You really need to get up on your politics Mark ole boy.

  • paulwhoispablo

    Mark,

    I was referring to Wackenhut’s connections with Halliburton Brown and Root pal.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    You’re correct, Pablo. And I was right. They are connected. I will provide some links.

  • Mark Eden

    You really need to get up on your politics Mark ole boy.

    You’re right Paul. I should have known more about this.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Pablo/Mark,

    Here is one link:

    Cornell Corrections.

    It’s just one article among many, tracing the connections with Halliburton and Cheney; there are some more in the bunch (“Dillon, Read and Company, and the Aristocracy of Stock Profits.”

  • paulwhoispablo

    Roger,

    Great love to see the links, if Mark were not so arrogant, he might learn something, however thats usually the problem with folks like that, minds only function when open.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    At the risk of pointing out the obvious, Pablo, it was Mark who introduced Wackenhut as a topic on this thread…

    …@ #15.

    Do pay attention.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Pablo,

    Mark is not arrogant, trust me. I just posted one. When I first saw it, I couldn’t believe it. I myself wrote a piece on it on my own weblog, “The Case For Fraud: our “prison industry” you might want to look at it. Basically it’s a summary with some additional sources. This is one issue that has not really been discussed and it’s appalling how both the Democrats and Republicans share equally in guilt – the idea of selling privatization to the public in the name of profitability and efficiency. In the case of “private prisons,” there’s a vested interest, of course, in having them incarcerated for as long as possible, and the more the merrier. The public should be outraged.

  • paulwhoispablo

    An interesting caveat from this coinspiracist’s point of view is that Wackenhut was purchased in 2002 by Group 4 Securicor Inc who just happened to be running the security at the world trade center on 9/11.

  • paulwhoispablo

    Dread,

    As you MAY have noticed I made a quick correction in that I was referring to Haliburton Brown and Root and Wackenhut fella.

    As to Mark’s arrogance he knows what I was referring to which had to do with some of his past comments directed at me which were VERY arrogant.

  • paulwhoispablo

    Oh and Dread?

    I pay VERY close attention, perhaps you should too, you might learn something new.

  • paulwhoispablo

    And I do know that at times I come across as arrogant too, however I happen to know my shit.

  • paulwhoispablo

    I will also reiterate what I have said frequently on this site for anyone who might care. I have NEVER cast the first stone with anyone on here, with the exception of Baronius whom I have apologized to. I have never seen an apology from Clavy or Nalle to anyone, and they are by far much more arrogant, and snipy than I have ever been.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Pablo,

    If I may interject into this polite conversation. “Arrogance” might be be fine if it is feigned, for good reasons of course. But arrogance which stems from ignorance (or fear, which I suppose is the same thing) has no excuse. Well, I shouldn’t say that. It’s just that’s very hard to get through to those folks, and after a while you say to yourself: Why even try?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Perhaps there’s no such a thing as “arrogance,” really. It’s just a cover-up for insecurity.

  • paulwhoispablo

    agreed Roger

  • paulwhoispablo

    Incidentally I am writing under the name paulwhoispablo because for some STRANGE reason when I attempt to write under my moniker pablo askimet says it is spam. I wrote to management here about it and was told it can be a problem and to email askimet.com with my ip address which I did, however this does not explain to me why the name pablo is being seen as spam. I do however have my (paranoid)suspicions :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    But Pablo,

    You wouldn’t mind admitting if proven wrong, would you now?

  • paulwhoispablo

    Roger,

    Of course not, that is how I learn.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    paulwhoispablo, whilst not being the one to cast the first stone is fine as far as it goes, what you need to take on board is that we want people to debate ideas and issues as passionately as they want to here at Blogcritics. What we don’t want is people making personal attacks or, as in your case, going over old ground repeatedly as you do above in your #33.

    If anyone makes what you consider to be a personal attack on you, the first thing to do is ignore it and wait to see if the comments editors remove it, whilst bearing in mind that we do this for love not money and are not on duty 24/7.

    If, after some hours, a comment that wounds has not been “massaged”, you are free to contact me via that secret internal channel open only to Blogcritics writers which is the editors group on crappy old Yahoo.

    If anybody contacts me with a URL and comment number that they want me to take a deeper look at, I will always do that – and do my best to balance the conflicting demands of freedom of speech and maintaining a basic level of civility.

    Nobody is required to apologise to you for some perceived slight you have suffered if they don’t want to, so in the end you really have to decide if you are going to suck it up and move on or simply move on. However I’d like to see an end to this chip on your shoulder now. Let’s look forward together in the spirit of new hope that has so recently dawned in the land of the free…

  • Mark Eden

    Paul, same thing happened to me and to Dan M. Try using your old handle again tomorrow after spending a day as Paulwhois. Worked for me.

    Mark

  • paulwhoispablo

    Roger,

    Great link on Halliburton and Wackenhut. Thank you

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    As to the spam thing, don’t give in to that paranoia! It is a purely random thing going on with Akismet that has even blocked some of my own comments from time to time. It is bloody annoying when it happens but it isn’t against you personally.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    There you go Pablo. You ARE a humble person. Too bad humility wears a tough face, like tough love. And thanks for participating in this dialogue. I think we’ve managed to expound the concept to the full (well, almost to the full) – for everyone’s edification. I should say it was a noble enterprise.

    Roger

    PS: Sorry, Chris, for jumping over your comment.

  • paulwhoispablo

    Thanks for the tip Mark :) will do

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Pablo, the same thing happened to me as well. I contacted Akismet and gave them my IP address and they fixed it without any fuss. It did take a few days though.

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    If you’d like to experience true corruption, look into the career of my esteemed state representative Dawnna Dukes, who when the state legislature is out of session is a paid consultant for Wackenhut, takes campaign donations for them and when the legislature is in session promotes their interests actively in the legislature. Recently she’s made similar deals with toll-road and real-estate developers. It’s become common knowledge that if you hire her as a consultant she’ll get the bills passed to get state funding for your project, but her long career in corruption started with Wackenhut.

    BTW, Pablo – I never get blocked by akismet. Might be because my name is more unique, or perhaps because the CFR is my homie.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    And Pablo, you’re right, you did correct yourself. However, your accusation of arrogance leveled at Mark seemed out of context, which is why I concluded that you weren’t paying attention.

  • paulwhoispablo

    #40 Christopher

    Nice post, and I do welcome civility regardless of what some of my detractors will say. I have very few bones to actually pick with anyone on this site with the exception of Nalle and his sidekick, and for good reasons. I do not expect nor want others to agree with my own peculiar particular political beliefs, however when they deride me instead of debate me on the issues of the day as the two mentioned previously do continually, I will continue to respond in kind.

    My political background is from the left, being as I was raised in a liberal family in San Francisco in the 60’s, that being said, I find what is called the left in this country to be far more politically naive then the right, in as much in my opinion they are both completely controlled by the various foundations (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford), and their bretheren at the CFR, Bilderberg Group, and Trilateral Commission.

    I do welcome civility Christopher, and as I have said in my opinion with the exception of Baronius I have NEVER cast the first stone, and hope very much that we can as adults debate the issues of the day in a friendly and concilitory manner.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Watch out, though, Dave, or Akismet might decide that ‘Nalle’ is actually ‘nail’ and that you are, by extension, a porn spammer.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Pablo,

    You forgot Starbucks.

    ;-)

  • paulwhoispablo

    #47 Nalle

    That last comment was almost cute, is it possible for a new day with the esteemed Dave Nalle? I have my reservations but do hope for a new year of real debate instead of childish name calling, I know I am dreaming however, but it is a nice dream Nalle.

    And I am still waiting for YOU to admit that you too are a conspiracy theorist, that is that you happen to subcribe to the official conspiracy version of 9/11, which in my mind only someone that is naive or engages in extreme wishful thinking would subscribe to. Because dear Dave, once you do admit the obvious, that you too are a conspiracy theorist, you can no longer use that as a reason to not debate me on it, and you will be left with actually using your brain instead of blind obedience to the CFR 9/11 coverup commimssion.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Would someone please explain it to me?

    What is so insulting saying to someone on these threads that they’re arrogant? I have never done it, because I don’t think it’s a useful ploy; it wouldn’t accomplish anything. But people call one another all kinds of names in the backdrop of which the charge of arrogance pales into insignificance.

    Since we are on the subject, a great many participants on these threads ARE, in my esteemed or humble opinion, whatever, arrogant. I have greater sense of course than to name them or to call them so, which doesn’t prevent me, naturally, from thinking it so. So we do have a double standard here of sorts, don’t we? Think but don’t say! Doesn’t exactly make up for the best climate for free and uninhibited discussion – especially since “true arrogance,” again in my humble opinion, is the greatest stumbling block we all experience.

    Again, I am kind of puzzled. Any takers?

    Roger

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Well, Roger, I freely admit to being arrogant on occasion.

    Calling a spade a spade is fine. What’s insulting is calling someone arrogant when they’re not.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I don’t think it’s insulting, Doc. It’s more like being frustrated because they don’t get it – i.e., see the true you. As I understand the concept, it’s more of a reflection on the sayer than on object/point of reference.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    To add to the above remark: true confidence needs no prompts, no defenses, no pretenses. It stands on its own; and it’s combined with true humility.

  • Cindy D

    Three articles I found illuminating.

    Suicide Shows Squalid Conditions in Privately-Run Texas Prison; Company Operates in 15 States
    July 8, 2007

    The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?
    Global Research, March 10, 2008

    Larger Inmate Population Is Boon to Private Prisons
    Wall Street Journal, Nov. 18, 2008

    The Atlantic Monthly article from 1998 is also a “must read”, as well as a PBS article on immigrant detainees, which I’ll post below.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Welcome aboard!

  • Cindy D

    The Prison-Industrial Complex
    Atlantic Monthly, December 1998 Atlantic

    Correctional officials see danger in prison overcrowding. Others see opportunity. The nearly two million Americans behind bars—the majority of them nonviolent offenders—mean jobs for depressed regions and windfalls for profiteers

    Immigrant Detainees: A New Profit Center?
    PBS: Week of 5.9.08

  • paulwhoispablo

    Great links Cindy, thank you.

  • Cindy D

    Sorry for all the links. Those were the most important from my library.

  • Cindy D

    Hiya paul/pablo :-)

  • Baronius

    How is prison privatization evil? Jason says that the market provides the lowest bid for the highest level of service. By definition, the highest level of service is a good thing. If a private company can provide it, I don’t see a problem. Of course, there has to be government supervision, as there is on any government contract. But all prisons require oversight, and I know of no study that shows privately-operated prisons to be worse than publicly-operated ones.

    Our prison system has problems. We need better protection for prisoners, and better rehabilitation. I see no link between those things and who signs the checks.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Baronius,

    You’re being the devil’s advocate. It’s morally wrong, because it makes an unholy connection between the profit motive and incarceration. In short, there is a built-in interest in having as many incarcerated and for as long as possibly because it’s profitable. So even if you discount the reality of this connection in practice, you cannot do so with respect to appearance. And as a wise man had once said, “Avoid even the appearance of evil” or other such thing to that effect. But you already know all this, so may saying it to you is but a civil reminder.

    RN

  • Baronius

    Roger, I’m not being a devil’s advocate, and I find it mildly offensive that you’d say so.

    As far as I know, parole boards are not privatized, and private prisons have no ability to detain people for longer than required. And there’s no lack of prisoners in this country – a company can run any prison at capacity without having to detain convicts for extra periods. In fact, that whole premise is nonsensical: a prison has no say in how many people are incarcerated, for how long.

    Why is a connection with profit unholy? Should we stop paying soldiers, because that makes them look like mercenaries? And teachers, they should be there because they want to be, not because we pay them, so let’s pull their funding as well.

  • Baronius

    Sorry – condescending, not offensive.

  • Mark Eden

    Baronius, Jason’s point was that privatization would by the logic of maximizing profit by minimizing labor costs lead to the ‘outsourcing’ of these services. Bad? See my link above to Wackenhut’s international incarnation. Are those foreign prisons potentially for ‘merican criminals?

    Mark

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Baronius,

    If what I said you find it offensive, even mildly, it simply tells me that I must have hit a soft spot. And if I did, then I am not really sorry, for the entire purpose of this or any other thread is for all of us to become as honest and forthright as humanly possibly. If BC did not provide the forum and the opportunity to do these things, then I would be the first to jump the ship because the enterprise would not be worth my while. It is my obligation as a human being and a participant in this civil dialogue to do what I can to reach understanding, and if that means breaking down any and all defenses, I will do it to the extent possible and consider it my duty.

    But I am not going to discuss the facts of the case with you because this discussion turns on moral grounds. So if you want to discuss this issue properly, I’m game and we can go for it. But facts of the case have nothing to do with it – they only serve as a subterfuge as I have already indicated earlier in my previous comment – and which you damn well know; otherwise you would not, I submit, feel in the least offended; and you’re feeling offended for having been found out!

    So out of politeness, I am apologizing to you making you feel offended. The rest is up to you.

    RN

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    private prisons have no ability to detain people for longer than required

    But a private prison can lobby for as many prisoners as possible to be sent to its facility, rather than a publicly-run one. This isn’t something a private hospital (say) can do – its customers go there of their own accord.

    A private prison can only do business with the government – I would have thought the potential for corruption, abuse and corner-cutting was obvious.

  • paulwhoispablo

    I have a better idea Baronius. Lets contract out everything government does. Lets have private cops, privatize the fire department, and hell lets have private judges while we are at it shall we?

    The government which makes the law has an absolute responsibility to provide for the facilities for those that break the law. If there is a profit motive in it, it is inhumane, and does not serve the public interest of either accountability nor or justice.

    Perhaps Baronius you can tell us of which functions of government you oppose being privatized and why. I am all ears fella.

    The very function of government both local state and federal is by nature public, and for damned good reasons. So pray tell Baronius what other public functions of government would you privatize and why.

  • Cindy D

    Baronius,

    Three decades after the war on crime began, the United States has developed a prison-industrial complex—a set of bureaucratic, political, and economic interests that encourage increased spending on imprisonment, regardless of the actual need. The prison-industrial complex is not a conspiracy, guiding the nation’s criminal-justice policy behind closed doors. It is a confluence of special interests that has given prison construction in the United States a seemingly unstoppable momentum. It is composed of politicians, both liberal and conservative, who have used the fear of crime to gain votes; impoverished rural areas where prisons have become a cornerstone of economic development; private companies that regard the roughly $35 billion spent each year on corrections not as a burden on American taxpayers but as a lucrative market; and government officials whose fiefdoms have expanded along with the inmate population. Since 1991 the rate of violent crime in the United States has fallen by about 20 percent, while the number of people in prison or jail has risen by 50 percent.

    That was in 1998 don’t forget. We have increased much more since then!

    Excerpt from: The Prison-Industrial Complex
    Atlantic Monthly, December 1998 @ #59

  • Mark Eden

    BTW Baronius, don’t get me wrong; New Mexico didn’t turn to the private sector simply for the buck. State run prisons really sucked, and the was an impression formed in the public’s mind that private prisons would be ‘better’.

  • Cindy D

    Baronius,

    Have a look at this chart. It goes to 2006.

    *The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., but reached its height in 1990 under William Clinton, when Wall Street stocks were selling like hotcakes. Clinton’s program for cutting the federal workforce resulted in the Justice Departments contracting of private prison corporations for the incarceration of undocumented workers and high-security inmates.

    Now look at the chart and look at the quote. Notice anything unusual?

    *The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?
    Global Research, March 10, 2008 @57

  • paulwhoispablo

    Which is why I frequently use the characterization of our government as a POLICE STATE, and with damned good reason.

  • Cindy D

    “New Mexico’s privately operated prisons are filled with America’s impoverished, violent outcasts — and those are the guards.”

    Sorry, it’s really not funny but…lol

  • Cindy D

    RE# 72

    Mark,

    Here’s what your article says, re the $7.95/hour guard who was stabbed when left alone (prior to completing training) with 60 loose inmates:

    Why was Garcia left alone among the convicts? It wasn’t a mistake, but Wackenhut’s cut-rate Jails-R-Us policy; one guard in a “pod” and two prisoners packed in each cell. This reverses the ratio in government prisons — two guards per block, one prisoner per cell. Of course, the state’s own prisons are not as “efficient” (i.e. cheap) as the private firm’s. But then, the state hasn’t lost a guard in 17 years — where Wackenhut hasn’t yet operated 17 months.

  • Cindy D

    So I guess there was more in the news in NM then.

  • Mark Eden

    Cindy, this is the context of privatization in NM.

  • Cindy D

    Unbelievable.

    Thanks, that put it in perspective.

  • Baronius

    Dread, a public prison can only do business with the government – there’s the same potential for abuse and corruption.

  • bliffle

    IMO the whole concept of ‘privatization’ will go on the rocks when people realize they have the same old screwed up systems, just at higher cost.

    The only thing that makes private business economical, say making light bulbs, is competition. Once ‘no bid’ contracts enter the picture that edge is gone and you’re just left with a higher price tag.

  • Brunelleschi

    Privatizing justice and punishment is simply a stupid idea.

    Privatization is a religion in America, but its as anti-Christian as mosque in Iran.. Jesus said to give up your possessions and follow him, not to pile on money and power for yourself.

    :)

  • Baronius

    Cindy – Please explain your comment #73.

    I read the Atlantic article. Very tragic, and prison conditions are only getting worse. But where’s the link to privatization? I mean, the article is about the state of prisons and the for-profit organizations involved in their operation, but it doesn’t make the argument that they are responsible for any worse conditions than publicly-run prisons.

  • Cindy D

    Bar,

    I was responding to this general comment:

    How is prison privatization evil?

    That is addressed in the Atlantic Monthly article.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, this is my problem: I inferred from your comment that you thought the increase in prison population was motivated by the money to be made in the industry. I’m hoping that I misunderstood you. That graph, by the way, follows the same pattern as the increase in crack cocaine use, and the increase in the illegitimacy rate. Those are reasonable causes for the increase in incarceration.

  • Cindy D

    Locking up 10% of the population is a problem for me.

    *The United States now imprisons more people than any other country in the world—perhaps half a million more than Communist China. The American inmate population has grown so large that it is difficult to comprehend: imagine the combined populations of Atlanta, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Des Moines, and Miami behind bars. “We have embarked on a great social experiment,” says Marc Mauer, the author of the upcoming book The Race to Incarcerate. “No other society in human history has ever imprisoned so many of its own citizens for the purpose of crime control.”

    Again, it’s 1998 there. On that chart in #73 it looks like incarceration almost doubled again since 1998. Crime rate? Well, here you go.

    I’m having a problem understanding how someone could look at that and have no problem with it?

    *Atlantic Monthly @ #59

  • Cindy D

    Bar,

    When we start locking up drug addicts (and other victimless “criminals” it a real problem.

    Yes, I’m convinced it’s motivated by just what I posted in the quote in #71.

    So regarding cocaine and heroin trafficking, how many CIA ops were arrested in relation to that?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Baronius @ #80:

    Oh, I know there’s the same potential for corruption in the public sector. But you’re not entirely accurate in stating that a public prison can only do business with the government. A public prison is the government.

    Perhaps I should have phrased things a bit differently. A private prison’s only possible customer is government. That rather takes it out of the realm of the free market.

    Aside from that, I’m simply uncomfortable with removing bits of the justice system from public control. Justice is one of the fundamental components of a free society and it should be owned by the people.

    Actually, Pablo in #70 does pose a very pertinent question: if privatizing prisons is desirable, then which other government services should be privatized, which not, and why? What is there fundamentally about, say, the military, the court system and the IRS that precludes their privatization – if indeed anything does?

  • Brunelleschi

    Forget prisons, let’s privatize the oil industry.

    The government should stop paying for oil wars, and tell the oil companies to hire it’s own mercenaries. The magic of the free market will sort it out.

  • paulwhoispablo

    Baronius 70

    I see that you chose not to address my questions in post 70 Baronius. I asked them for a very good reason. Again I ask you what other functions of government you would privatize, and why.

  • Cindy D

    Baronius,

    …and the increase in the illegitimacy rate..

    I’m sorry, I don’t follow. What illegitimacy rate?

  • Cindy D

    Baronius,

    I’m not really finding a lot of information. So, let’s say I’ll take your word for it. Let’s say non-marital birth rate increased over the same period as incarcerations increased. What does that say?

    Does it say that non-marital births contributed to the sharp decrease in crime over the same time?

    Or does it say the U.S. is now locking up black folks cuz they’re “illegitimate”? (same charts from the Senate.gov link in the paragraph above).

  • Cindy D

    I’ll try the link again. (pdf)

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    The basic problem with this article is that it is all abstract concepts such as the inherent “immorality” of the profit motive being applied to prisons. “On the other hand, human beings are not products and to attempt to objectify their existence for a return on capital is a morally and ethically unacceptable.” Really, and why exactly is that? You’re postulating something here that I’m not convinced is true.

    But you’re making it a postulate, thus not a subject of actual debate, and your undebated postulate is the basic proof of your thesis. You simply assert that private profit in prisons is “morally and ethically unacceptable,” and therefore on that basis you have proven “the evils of privatizing America’s prison system.”

    Absolutely NO one is going to be messing with prisoners for free. Guards and even chaplains have to make a living. People make money on contracts to build (government or private) prisons, provide the food, etc.

    These abstract claims about “morality” are largely arbitrary, and mushy and not particularly useful. Locking up human beings is inherently a bad thing, whether the guards are on government or private payrolls, and whether they’re nice to prisoners or not. But the question in the real world has to be, bad – compared to what? It’s bad to imprison people like dogs in a pen – but not nearly as bad as having them running around killing and pillaging.

    On the abstract level, my biggest obvious point of skepticism is not a high philosophical debate on supposed “morality.” It’s that private operators puts an extra degree of separation in the necessary public accountability for the always delicate issues of handling prisoners. The obvious point to me is that private companies in the middle will tend to provide inappropriate layers of distance and plausible deniability of bad behavior to the publicly accountable politicians.

    It’s more useful though – and reflected in some of the comments thread here – to examine the practical implications and the actual facts of the practice. Are people incarcerated in privately run facilities treated substantially better or worse or about the same as people in facilities staffed by government employees? Also, how much money do taxpayers actually save by going through private contractors? Those would seem to me to be the top questions.

    I don’t claim to have substantial knowledge about the answers to those questions. Just arrogantly trying to tether the issue to terra firma.

  • Cindy D

    It’s bad to imprison people like dogs in a pen – but not nearly as bad as… having a whole bunch of superfluous people on the loose.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Miss Cindy quotes an article claiming that “The United States now imprisons more people than any other country in the world–perhaps half a million more than Communist China.”

    Assuming for the sake of argument that this is true (though I’m skeptical of how we would really know), there’s more to it than that. My first obvious reaction is that this might be because the Chinese government would be much more inclined to just f’ing SHOOT a lot of people rather than bother housing them in prisons. And then bill their families for the cost of the ammo.

    Besides which, I suspect that I’d MUCH rather be a prisoner in an American prison than a Chinese.

  • Cindy D

    After all, this is a free society. They can’t just be killed in the streets like the redundancies of other societies.

  • Cindy D

    Al,

    Ask the U.S.A. see the charts at the link at #93.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    No Cindy, not “superfluous people.” Murderers, bank robbers and rapists – bad people who are violent and hurt other people. Unless you want to just SHOOT them, some people are like rabid dogs and have to be locked up for our protection.

    Well, not so much MY protection, as I have firearms and would use them – but for the protection of liberal pussies who don’t believe in guns, cause only love can conquer hate. Ha!

  • Cindy D

    Al,

    You missed something.

    Crime rate is lower.

    Incarceration is higher.

  • Cindy D

    Please try not to protect me from pot smokers.

  • Cindy D

    And Al,

    Not redundant? So, then everyone can have a job?

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Al –

    Concerning China, let me relate to you a story by a young Canadian journalist – can’t remember her name offhand, got the book somewhere. But she’s full-blood Chinese, and had studied Chinese to the point where her accent could pass for that of a Chinese citizen.

    One of her experiences was when she first arrived in a university where she was going to attend. She went to her room and noticed there was no lock on the door. She asked the other people where she could get a lock for her door…and they asked her why she would need a lock in the first place?

    Things have changed there, but by and large China is a safe place. It’s generally much safer to walk the streets there than in many cities here. (note: the same can be said of many cities in Muslim countries, too)

    Don’t get me wrong, though – for however many positive things about China I may post, they do NOT have freedom of speech (like the aforementioned Muslim countries). Lack of guns, no problem – but no freedom of speech…that’s where I draw the line.

    I guess the reason for my post is to try to help you learn to respect other cultures, to see the good in them as well as the bad…and, hopefully, to learn lessons from them.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Cindy, you’re purposely conflating different and unrelated issues, and making huge wrong assumptions.

    Yes, we have people in jail for arbitrary drug “offenses” that shouldn’t be. But that’s not everyone or even most of the people we have locked up. Plus again, I’d rather be locked up in an American jail over drugs rather than just being shot in China.

    The “everyone can have a job” stuff is just specious nonsense – as if US crime and violence are driven by poverty. Actually pretty nearly, yes, everyone can have a job. But that’s not really the significant issue in the first place. Almost no one is in an American lockup for stealing food to feed their hungry kids. This ain’t Les Miserables.

    We had REAL poverty and unemployment in the 1930s, without the food stamps and welfare, and not anything like modern crime rates.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Glenn- I reject your presumption that I disrespect other cultures and would never learn from them.

    That aside, I would find it easy to believe that China would have a much lower level of petty private street crime. Get caught on a B&E in the US, you have to post bail and pay a lawyer to get you out, or perhaps serve a few months in jail. Whereas, my guess (feel free to correct me with your friend’s wisdom if I’m wrong) is that a B&E in China would be more likely to just get you shot dead if you’re caught. On that basis, I would suspect minimal street crime in China.

    Is that the good in Chinese culture that I should learn from?

  • Cindy D

    Al,

    We all make mistakes. If I’m making a mistake, it’s based on a lot of looking and thinking and reading. It’s not based on a snap judgment or purposefully not looking at the evidence.

    Actually pretty nearly, yes, everyone can have a job.

    Is that why the Fed raises interest rates every time the unemployment rate creeps too low? What about the people in jail. So, we have to have what, 8-10-12% of the population unemployed for the economy to work (if you call that working).

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Does an increase in social spending decrease the crime rate? Here’s what one such study found:

    “The Great Depression of the 1930s led to dire circumstances for a large share of American households. Contemporaries worried that a number of these households would commit property crimes in their efforts to survive the hard times. The Roosevelt administration suggested that their unprecedented and massive relief efforts struck at the roots of crime by providing subsistence income to needy families. After constructing a panel data set for 83 large American cities for the years 1930 through 1940, we estimated the impact of relief spending by all levels of government on crime rates. The analysis suggests that relief spending during the 1930s lowered property crime in a statistically and economically significant way. A lower bound ordinary least squares estimate suggests that a 10 percent increase in per capita relief spending during the Great Depression lowered property crime rates by close to 1 percent. After controlling for potential endogeneity using an instrumental variables approach, the estimates suggest that a 10 percent increase in per capita relief spending lowered crime rates by roughly 5.6 to 10 percent at the margin. More generally, our results indicate that social insurance, which tends to be understudied in economic analyses of crime, should be more explicitly and more carefully incorporated into the analysis of temporal and spatial variations in criminal activity.”

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Cindy, I realize that you’re smart and thoughtful and well read, unlike those who disagree with your leftwing views.

    But perhaps you need to re-examine both your facts and presumptions. You seem to presume that the fed sets their interest rates for the specific point of keeping unemployment high, and that there’s some direct co-relation between fed rates and unemployment.

    And in fact, there’s no idea that high unemployment is a boost for the economy. Bad unemployment numbers generally drive the NYSE DOWN, not up. Also, we’re only now getting up to about 8% unemployment in the roughest economic waters we’ve had in a long time – and NO one thinks that rising unemployment HELPS the economy.

    Then again, note that it is widely considered that 4% unemployment is really pretty much full employment, just on the basis that there are always that many people between jobs and such for reasons other than lack of available jobs.

  • Cindy D

    Al,

    You don’t know what you are talking about. The Fed keeps unemployment (for free people) around 4%. I add to that the extras in this movie (imprisoned) and I get roughly 8-10-12%

    Go ask Alan Greenspan or Milton Friedman, if you don’t believe me. (Or even Dave).

  • Cindy D

    And Al,

    Cindy, I realize that you’re smart and thoughtful and well read, unlike those who disagree with your leftwing views.

    I am not the one who came into the discussion asking how we could determine facts when my opponent gave me 42 links.

    It is one thing to dispute the validity of the evidence. It is another simply to ignore the evidence.

    When you find me doing that (ignoring my opponent’s support for an argument) let me know, as I would correct that. It’s only common respect.

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Al –

    The corruption in China goes much deeper than that. It’s sorta like anywhere else in that if you have money, you can get away with almost anything (except in China, if you commit a crime that makes China look bad (or causes their exports to drop) then you’re in deep kimchee).

    But here’s something that should make you, Al Barger, very PROUD to be an American. What does America have in common with China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iraq? WE ARE ONE OF THE SIX TOP COUNTRIES IN EXECUTIONS. That’s really GOOD company there, isn’t it?

    YEEEAAAHH! REAL red-blooded Americans SUPPORT the death penalty, just like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iraq!

    Last year the Unabomber sent out a letter asking to be executed, because the almost-solitary-confinement that he’s experiencing now (and for the rest of his life) is worse than death.

    Put that little fact together with the FACT that we’ve had not just a few, but MANY people on death row released. In fact, in the past 35 years, 130 inmates were found to be innocent and released from death row.

    The death penalty is NOT good, does NOT significantly lower crime rates…and innocent people DO get executed – and it’s sorta hard to appeal a case once you’re dead.

    AND WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR CLAIM that poverty doesn’t result in an increase in crime, check this link which CLEARLY shows the two largest spikes in the U.S. murder rate were the Depression (poverty) and from the late 60’s through the early 90’s (recession, Arab Oil embargo, huge increase in gun ownership)…

    …and what you DON’T realize is that the single biggest factor in the huge increase in the crime rate came in about 1959, when the dollar limit for larceny was removed i.e. any ‘petty theft’ was considered ‘larceny’.

    So don’t get me going on crime and the death penalty, Al – as with issues like Universal Health Care, voting fraud, and the benefits of taxes and social programs, conservative ‘wisdom’ doesn’t stand up to the cold hard provable facts.

  • Cindy D

    But I could be a little snobby. There’s always that.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Al makes a good point that the crime rate during the Depression was much lower than it was, say, at the peak of the crime wave in the 1970s. However, it’s foolish to say that there is no correlation between crime and poverty. In fact to some extent modern society makes poverty itself a crime – think vagrancy and panhandling.

    There’s a whole canvas of factors to consider. There was, for example, much less disparity in the 1930s between the richest and the poorest, and the culture was far less materialistic – nobody was going to mug you for your sneakers because they were a fashionable brand which cost $200. There was also no ‘War on Drugs’. Just to point up a couple of differences between then and now.

    I was surprised to find this article making a fair bit of sense, considering its hard-right source. Judge Barr recognizes the societal ills which need to be addressed, but also argues the need for a solid justice system which both punishes and deters.

    I don’t want to let ideology blind me here. There is a lot to Barr’s argument that the sense of family and community, with its consequent moral template, isn’t as concrete as it was in the 1930s. I’m not convinced that punishment has much of an effect on criminals – or at least, not a positive one – but of course your feelings on that rather depend on whether you actually care if punishment has an effect or not, or whether you just want to punish.

    I don’t by any means agree with everything Barr says – he barely touches, for example, on in-prison rehabilitation, seeing incarceration only as a form of punishment and, more importantly, as a means of keeping criminals out of mischief. He decries the tendency to release prisoners after only a fraction of their term and links the trend to do this with increases in the crime rate. But it seems to escape him that whether a criminal is released after three years or ten, he will still probably go back to committing crimes on his release. You’re simply going to see the rise in the crime rate in seven years’ time, rather than now.

    Something more, IMHO, needs to be done with the time a prisoner spends in prison than just making life unpleasant for him in the hope that he won’t want to go back there.

    Back to the original topic of the thread, I don’t think there’s much practical difference to the prisoner whether he goes to a public or a private prison. I tend, though, to share Al’s unease as regards accountability when it comes to privatizing such a sensitive component of the justice system.

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    We don’t know that the crime rate was lower. Nobody does.

    As I stated above, the single biggest factor in the huge increase in the crime rate between then and now came in about 1959, when the dollar limit for larceny was removed i.e. any ‘petty theft’ was now recorded as ‘larceny’.

    In other words, theft below a certain dollar amount was not considered part of the crime rate as it is now.

    Check this link to see the chart and you’ll see what I mean.

    In other words, America then was probably not any better – and was certainly in some ways worse – than it is right now.

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Oops – Doc – the link is here.

  • Cindy D

    No one knows anything! How amazing!

    People who like the government say…how do we know this or that? We can’t rely on anything!

    People who don’t like the government say, well, ask the government. See what they say.

  • Cindy D

    If you want to believe in the government you have to deny them (where the fucking hell did they teach you that?)

    If you are opposed then fuck off.

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    We know how the crime rate was calculated before and after 1959…but there is no way to adjust the pre-1959 stats to give a proper comparison to the post-1959 stats because there’s no record of the thefts from before 1959 that would not have counted as larceny before, but did after 1959.

    This isn’t doublespeak. It’s the operation of bureaucracy, and it’s no one’s fault.

  • Cindy D

    Yeah, well give me a link. That is always what I say.

    Because, let me tell you something. I am wrong. It won’t matter who I quote.What is wrong with that?

  • Cindy D

    I need evidence for anything I believe. Give me better evidence.

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    The link is posted twice – once in #111 and again in #115

  • Cindy D

    What about it did I disagree with?

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Hunh?

    I thought you were complaining about how I posted that we simply cannot know the nation’s crime rate before and after 1959. My aim was to help you not be so angry at the government (or me) for the information being impossible to retrieve.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Glenn,

    You’ve got to give her some time. Anger is a bitch! (Sorry, Cindy. I just couldn’t help myself.)

  • Cindy D

    Glenn,

    First of all, I am hardly angry with you.

    Second of all, I don’t accept government. Any government! Not likely anyone will give me a link that will cure that!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    How about “Stairway to Heaven.” That ought to do it!

  • Cindy D

    Got to give me some time? Anger is a bitch?

    Okay I acquiesce to the conscientiousness of my superiors. Males? The elite? Who are you?

    I certainly know people smarter than you. I know people richer than you. So, what makes your ideas so compelling?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Are you talking to ME?

  • Cindy D

    I am talking to whomever!

  • Mark Eden

    Rog, were you looking in a mirror when you typed that?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    We’re all looking for a mirror. Ain’t that so, Mark? Come on. Say no!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Just got any idea. How about if we all listen to the same music as we post these gems on the threads? It might lead to greater serendipity!
    Any technical experts out there?

  • Cindy D

    Want a mirror Roger. Here is my mirror.

  • Cindy D

    These were my friends. (Still are if you ask them.)

    Stephen Gould Corporation. A company that U.S.A Today rated amongst the 50 fastest growing privately held corporations in the U.S.

    They now live next to Mrs. DuPont (I am not sure which one.) in CT.

  • Cindy D

    Gotta impress people or you are no one!

  • Mark Eden

    (pardon the knee jerk De Niro ref)

    We’re all looking for a mirror. Ain’t that so, Mark? Come on. Say no!

    Sometimes, maybe.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Stephen Gould? You’re not talking about the guy in paleontology, are you?

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    Don’t you know? Resistance is futile – you will be assimilated. You too will be an Imperial stormtrooper preserving our great Orwellian future.

    And then, then when at last after a lifetime of loving servitude unto Big Brothers Three – that’s Neal, Jeb, and Dubya – you will die…but you will still have that priceless opportunity to yet serve in the advance our glorious civilization! The empty husk of the body you now inhabit will be transported to Dubai, to the headquarters of our most trustworthy comrades at Halliburton, and your flesh and bones will be remade into Captain Soylent CrunchGreen, a crucial part of their new project to supply our Grand Armee on its irresistible march to Moscow!

    Sieg SpongeBob! Sieg SpongeBob! Sieg SpongeBob!

    [music from Patton plays in the background, fades out, and segues into Gotterdamerung from Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen to the rhythmic beat of the Rockettes in jackboots]

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Glenn,

    I just listen to the Prairie Companion. I’ve got over 120 full-scale operas recorded from Sirius Met Internet Channel via Applian software, not to mention CDs with which I don’t even bother. And Wagner, along with Richard Strauss are some of my favorites.

    But you’ve got to lay off Cindy. She had nearly chopped my head of for a snotty comment. I was speaking from experience, though. An attorney friend of mine from California, very sharp guy, is so consumed with anger sometimes he can’t even think straight. I see is as a kind of disease, eating and eating at you. But I had better get of this subject before I shoot myself in the foot again,

    Roger

  • Cindy D

    Anyway Roger/Glenn, they are ultra rich. Ultra ultra rich.

    And what do they do with their money?

    Well, my dear friend (she has always been a regular person, mind you) decides, that the remodeling of her lake house doesn’t look “regular” enough.

    She spends (only god knows) how much money redoing this fucking outrageously horrendous affair yet again, to make it look more modest.

    This is after they both have made dozens of other even more horrible choices that make me never call them back. And they are “progressives”. My dear friends.

  • Cindy D

    No Roger, not that Stephen Gould, although that is the same question I asked on hearing that 30? years ago. (Who knows.)

    But, the father, Mr. Golden, would recount to me how Communists got us the 40 hour work week and social security.

    First time ever I heard Communists were anything but evil.

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    Ultra rich? That gives me an idea (from #138): “Ultra Rich Captain Soylent CrunchGreen”!

    Yum!

    Sorry – I got a bad case of the sillies and I need to go….

  • Cindy D

    All I could think was:

    1) I never heard anything good about Communists.

    and

    2) Why would any rich guy speak well of them?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Cindy,

    You think YOU have got a horror story? My own sister in KY had demolished her mansion house in order to have . . . well, a palace. Can you imagine? A perfect place that it was. But she wanted a palatial abode. That’s close to half a million down the drain. They could have simply build another structure on another lot.
    But that’s the case who can measure value only in terms of their possessions,

    PS: I hope she’ll never see this thread, or I am a dead duck.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Well, as to number 2, the reason is obvious. Redistribution of income.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Errata: with people who . . .

  • Cindy D

    (throws up her hands)

  • Cindy D

    I need to just shut up. Maybe nothing anyone can say can make any progress.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I like the animation part. More effective than words.

  • Cindy D

    It’s what led me to hate people in the first place.

    Maybe I can avoid that this time while admitting they should mostly fuck off.

  • Cindy D

    Doesn’t matter anyhow. I’ll find a place for me this time.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I don’t hate her, God forbid. Just feel sorry for her, money and wealth and no happiness. But how can you trust these people’s judgment on anything when they’re so screwed up? It’s like they’re on Mars and you’re on Venus.

  • Cindy D

    Well, just give her some time. Women will come around to sense eventually.

  • Cindy D

    They are very happy Roger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    And you know, she’s really a generous person. But there being no other values around which she can coalesce – because of where they live, no intellectual stimulation, no one really to talk to etc – she’s trapped. Sad but true.
    But I think I’ve done enough damage for one day.
    I see you all tomorrow.

  • Cindy D

    Roger,

    Where did you learn to treat women as second class citizens?

  • Cindy D

    The New School failed IMHO.

  • Cindy D

    It’s always fun to realize you’re talking to yourself.

    Well, at least you know here you stand.

  • Cindy D

    And, I would say, fuck off…

    to no one in particular (in case it is really a personal attack)

  • Cindy D

    Nothing too harsh tho, i sorta like to curse…

  • Baronius

    There are lots of strongly-held sentiments expressed on this board – about the incarceration rate, the drug war, et cetera – but no one’s demonstrated that private prisons are worse than public, and no one’s argued that they’re immoral, other than by implying that earning money in public service is immoral.

  • Cindy D

    Hey Al,

    Cindy, I realize that you’re smart and thoughtful and well read, unlike those who disagree with your leftwing views.

    I’ve thought about that Al. I think you were right. I’d like to apologize.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ah, there you are, Baronius. Hope you’re having a peaceful Sunday.

    Yes, in theory there’s no reason why private prisons should be any worse-run than public ones. My concern, at any rate, is with accountability, and the dangers of removing an important function of government from direct public control.

    While you’re here, would you care to have a crack at answering Pablo’s query in #70?

  • Cannonshop

    Here’s one where I think I split from the other Conservatives…

    Prison is a legitimate government function-as are Police. Privatizing either is a BAD IDEA.

  • Clavos

    Oh, please. Spare us this “unhappiness of the super-wealthy” crap.

    Most of my clients are in that category. Some of them can, and do, spend twenty times what Roger’s sister spent on her house to buy a boat. As I deal with them on what is essentially a personal matter, I get to know them pretty well (some, for years). I find that the ratio of happy to unhappy is about the same as it is in most any other group; except possibly, the abjectly poor, who are for the most part, very unhappy, and with good reason.

    Given the choice between being poor and unhappy or rich and unhappy, I’ll take the latter. As one of my clients is fond of saying, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes unhappiness more comfortable.”

  • Baronius

    I’ve been mulling over Pablo’s question. No offense intended for taking so much time to reply to Pablo (although I know by now that Pablo’ll be offended anyway). Ultimately, I’d like to see government functions operated efficiently by the government. But where government fails to be efficient, I would consider most any executive branch function to be contracted out, on a case-by-case basis. I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule. Obviously, the Census Bureau can contract out their payroll and CIA can’t.

    There are a lot of activities that I don’t think government should do at all, but that’s a different subject.

  • Brunelleschi

    #3 Jordan-

    Like you, I want to know the answer to “why?”

    Why all of a sudden is this so important?

    Are righties spending too much time praying to the private altar again? It’s like listening to a broken record.

    Wait till they get their greedy paws on the water supply.

    Don’t think they don’t want to already.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Miss Cindy, thank you for comment 162. I know that I myself tend to get hung up like Fonzie when I feel the need to apologize. “I was wrrrr…. I was wrrr…”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Baronius,

    I don’t know whether I should address you or not in light of the past exchange which was (on my part, I admit) perhaps inappropriate. The only point I was making is that this is a moral question concerning which there ought not be any dispute. To bring factual matters to the table only muddles the issue. I WOULD have been condescending of you were I to get into factual dispute. My refusal to do so should only tell you that I choose to regard as as a moral agent on par with myself (and any other reasonable person on this or any other thread). But my position still is that if you refuse to recognize this to be clearly, decisively, and predominantly moral question, then we really have nothing more to say to one another on this matter.

    Sincerely,

    RN

  • Paul CAMPBELL

    Great article Jason. i believe this is the closest thing to slavery. imprisonment is 100% understable and well deserved to certain criminals. if there becomes a benefit in having prisoners, and believe me in this day and age this will be exploited to the furthest extant, then it would be in the best interest of any business man to keep prisoners there for extended periods of time.

    This could trickle down to the police officers, the judges, lawyers, etc. Individuals could be wrongfully accused, sentenced, and inslaved for profit.

    I know if anything could go wrong it will. if this could spiral out of control, which it will, you will be sure to see more injustice then ever. racial profiling will reach new heights. Corruption of this magnitude will be equivalent to modern day slavery.

  • Brunelleschi

    Paul-

    Take that one step further and think about the possibilities to exploit further..

    If you hand the prisoners over to a private firm, what’s to keep them from finding “work” for them to show good behavior or whatever, and they find a way to profit from that work. You know they will do it. They have a captive labor force.

    Then you do have institutionalized slavery.

    Someone gets caught with a bag of weed, next thing you know they are a slave.

  • Baronius

    Roger, if it makes you feel any better, I don’t recall the earlier incident to which you refer. Now, I’m tempted to score rhetorical points against you by making fun of your “no facts” approach, but I understand what you mean. If it’s immoral, it doesn’t matter if it works (see chiche about Mussolini and trains running on time). The thing is, for the life of me I can’t see an inherent immorality in privately-operated prisons.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Baronius,

    I’m very glad we’ve come to agreement as to the principle of the thing – not necessarily with respect to the issue on the table but in general. And I thank you for being magnanimous about it.
    As to the point you’re raising, I’ll try to formulate a response.

  • Cindy D

    RE: #170, 171,

    Paul/Brunelleschi,

    It has. And they are.

  • Baronius

    Bruno, what’s to keep that from happening in a publicly-run prison? Oversight is required for both.

  • Brunelleschi

    Bar-

    Are wardens for state prisons allowed to make secret deals to sell the labor of prisoners right now, and personally profit from them?

  • Baronius

    No, they’re not allowed to. No one is allowed to make secret under-the-table deals. But do they happen? Which is more prone to corruption, public or private prisons? I don’t know the answer.

  • Brunelleschi

    Private for sure is more likely to abuse it. Privatization changes checks and balances. It’s just like in Iraq. Private security forces can literally get away with murder, which is what makes them attractive.

  • Baronius

    And public institutions are more prone to being lazy, self-serving, and bureaucratic (although they are by no means free from financial corruptions). I honestly don’t know which is worse for a prison.

  • Hope and Change?

    Mulado Jerk Off Showz his True Colors

    President Obama has sat for his first formal TV interview with the Arabic cable TV network Al-Arabiya, ABC News has learned.

  • Brunelleschi

    Wise move. He is making America better and safer despite the fools that don’t want him too!

  • Clavos

    If you hand the prisoners over to a private firm, what’s to keep them from finding “work” for them to show good behavior or whatever, and they find a way to profit from that work.

    An airtight contract with strong penalties prohibiting such practices.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “Mulado”?

    looks like someone earned a double-word score in ignorance

  • Brunelleschi

    That’s funny.

  • Cindy D

    From the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Service.gov website:

    Prison Industry Enhancement allows Maryland Correctional Enterprises to enter into partnerships and be a sub-contractor to private industry by producing goods and/or services using inmate labor. While inmates under the PIE program must be paid at least the Federal Minimum Wage, deductions are allowed from the inmates’ wages for taxes, room and board, contributions to a victims’ compensation program, and family support. Benefits to the private sector include a stable and motivated work force, reduced overhead, production availability,an alternative to “off-shore” operations, and a label affixed to the product which can state “made in the USA.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Jason,

    Can you think of some references about the morality/ethics of imprisonment in general, prior to Foucault? (Erving Goffman has some interesting observations concerning inmate behavior and role adaptation in “Asylums,” but that’s a sociological perspective.) I was thinking of some classical texts, perhaps, dealing with moral aspects of punishment, rehabilitation, and the like, or even modern ones. I remember reading some articles on the subject, but can’t place them now. (I mean in addition to what you had posted earlier on this tread.

    Roger

  • paulwhoispablo

    Baronius 179

    I could not help but notice in your zeal to say how wonderful it it so contract out prisons, you used the word efficiency, but never the word justice, how utterly surprising.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Pablo,

    I’m about to address the moral question concerning the privatization of prisons in my next paper, Pablo, so stay tuned, please.

    It’s long overdue, especially since everyone seems content to argue the facts of the case. My position is that facts have got nothing to do with it – EVEN if they were all in favor of privatization. The argument, of course, is that pragmatic consideration cannot be allowed to trump legitimate moral issues. And that once we allow that to happen, the society ain’t worth the paper the Constitution was written upon.

    Good luck, buddy, and keep up the good work.

    Roger

  • paulwhoispablo

    Thank you Roger, it is indeed my pleasure to offer my two sense worth (I know its cents, I like sense).

    I wonder how Baronius would feel about privatizing cops, after all if it is more efficient, hell go for it! No need to worry about something as trivial as justice or due process of law.

  • Brunelleschi

    Cindy-

    Holy S**t!

    That is nothing but slavery.

    What happens when there is a shortage of labor?

    Why parole someone if they are making money off their labor?

    Once a slave nation, always a slave nation…

  • Brunelleschi
  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Hi Bruny,

    That is forum or bulletin board linking and doesn’t work here. What you need to make a link work properly is good old fashioned html. If you want a reminder, here is how to format a link correctly.

  • Cindy D

    Brunelleschi,

    What do you make of this? Unlike states, the federal gov’t hasn’t sold prison labor to “for profit” corps yet (as far as I know).

    ACLU Letter to the House Judiciary Committee Concerning H.R. 2965 the Federal Prison Industries Competition. ACLU looks to want to change that for the reasons given in this (outdated, but still valid) letter.

  • Baronius

    Pablo, I’d gladly use the term “justice”. It is just to imprison criminals. I see no inherent injustice in privately-operated prisons.

    I think that ownership is the least of the problems in our prison system. I’m much more concerned with prisoner safety and rehabilitation. If a public or a private prison is better able to address these problems, it is just for society to do so.

    As I said earlier, I think that questions of privatization don’t have a hard-and-fast rule. A private police force, on first impression, sounds horrible and unconstitutional. But there is the old principle of posse comitatus, essentially deputizing private citizens on a temporary basis. So these things are more complicated than they appear.

  • paulwhoispablo

    Baronius

    But you did not use the word justice, and therein lies the rub.

  • Brunelleschi

    Thanks Chris R!

    Baro-

    Just watch “Robocop.”

    “He’s OCP! OCP OWNS the cops!”

  • Brunelleschi

    Cindy-

    I’m trying to figure out if the ACLU is lobbying for “happy slaves.”

  • Baronius

    Pablo, not much of a rub. Upthread, I have used the terms holy, moral, and evil, so I was clearly thinking in terms of fairness, not solely of efficiency.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Jason,

    Perhaps you haven’t seen my #186, asking if you could provide me with some references.

    Roger

  • paulwhoispablo

    Baronius,

    As you know I am a bit slow on the uptake, perhaps you can help me, by providing me with the terms you claim to have said on the upthread.

  • Judy

    After living in California all my life, having born 6 sons and have 24 grandchildren I am somewhat qualified I feel to make a statement about Prisons, and the incarceration of people in the state of California. For as long as I can remember people have litterly put “their heads in the sand” concerning our prison system. Even family’s who have experience the long incarceration of a loveone still refuse to acknowledge the fact that Prisons are one of our countries largest and most lucative industries.
    One of my sons have spent nearly his entire life behind the walls of Youth and adult prisons. He was 10 years old when his first commitment was for letting air out of a neighbors tire. This was the beginning of a long life living in and out of prisons. Dealing with his incarcerations and the problems I experience trying to retrieve his life out of the system for years has help give me a inside veiw of our prison system. There is no and I mean no Rehabilation!!! The prison system from the time a youth offender enters the institution process, becomes part of a larger order whereby the offender is identified as a commodity, used to enhance the pocket’s of the investors who have bought stock in human salvery. Company’s like Merle Lynch, Walmart, etc. etc. use the prison industry to manfacture products on a massive schedule, cheaper and less costly than it would be in a free society. Fenders have jump on the Band Wagon and offer their products to the prisons and inmates, charging high prices to the inmates and their families. The fenders are contracted by the system,therefore families and inmates have no other alternative but to purchase products from these contract fenders at a much higher cost. This puts a strain on families who want to help and support a loveone while incarcerated. Recently a new Jail was built in the desert (Calimesa). It will housed 7,000 offenders and most will not be released but will be later convicted and sent to prison. Recently I had a conversation with an attorney about our prison system. She said she was shock to fine how many prisons have been built in California alone. Right now I think it stands at 33, maybe more because just as soon as you think you have the right number another one is built, just like the new jail. The prisons are built in towns or places where the employment is low. When people need jobs and a way to meet the needs of a family a new prison comming into their area means employment, no questions are ask “Why here?”. The only thought is JOBS. The building and maintaining prisons create jobs and that is why the Correctional Officers Union is one of the most powerful unions in the nation. Prisons are and will be a luricative business and powerful lobby until people in our society wake up and say “Enough is Enough”. Otherwise we are looking at a society that will be comprised of the WORKER BEES, (prisoners)and the QUEEN BEE, (goverment).

  • paulwhoispablo

    Judy,

    An excellent comment, and thank you for sharing.

  • Brunelleschi

    Agree, that’s heavy duty Judy.

    Best of luck to you and family.

    Once a slave nation, always a slave nation…

  • Baronius

    #63: “How is prison privatization evil?”

    #65: “Why is a connection with profit unholy?”

    #161: “There are lots of strongly-held sentiments expressed on this board – about the incarceration rate, the drug war, et cetera – but no one’s demonstrated that private prisons are worse than public, and no one’s argued that they’re immoral, other than by implying that earning money in public service is immoral.”

    Pablo, I may have not used the word “justice”, but I’ve clearly been looking at the subject in terms of right and wrong. I’m just not persuaded that privatization of prisons is necessarily wrong.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Pablo,

    Why don’t you withhold your thoughts on the matter before I come up with a response? It’s not that I don’t want you to beat me to the punch; but if you are on the right track insofar as this issue is concerned, then perhaps you might take away some of the sting. So let’s plan on a more thorough discussion in a few days. Is it OK by you?

    Roger

    PS:

    Besides, I don’t want to be influenced by your ideas as I’m in the process of finishing up. I’d like my work to be as germinal as can be. After that, we can have fun.

  • Judy

    After reading my statements regarding our prison system, I realize I should have proof read before I sent it on to all of you. Please forgive my spelling like fenders instead of venders. I can only use the excuse that my age and eyes have an overwhelming reason for mistakes I make while commenting to any articles I read. Not to mention senior moments I have at the ripe old age of 69. Looking foreward to reading more articles concerning Prison issues.

    God Bless to all
    Judy

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Judy,

    Nothing to apologize for. I’m about to offer a critique shortly, based in principle rather then the usual factual arguments. I hope you’ll revisit the site again and offer further comments.

    Roger

  • Cindy D

    Thanks for that post Judy. Real people offering real experience is my only hope for anything leading to change.

  • paulwhoispablo

    Ok Roger

  • Brunelleschi

    Group hug for Judy.
    Hang in there!

  • Cindy D

    :-)

    (smiles are comments akismet)

  • http://jasonjcampbell.org/blog.php Jason J. Campbell

    Click here to read about private prison abuses.

  • Cindy D

    Jason,

    That abuse by private prison article was important. Thanks. I posted that on my blog.

    If you come across any others can you let me know? TY

  • http://jasonjcampbell.org/blog.php Jason J. Campbell

    Sure thing Cindy.

  • Cindy

    Fresno police beat homeless man: Caught on Tape

    This is recent. This seemed like the best place to put it.

    (wonders if Dr.D saw this on TV)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Another welcome addition to the arsenal. Great news for supporters of private prisons:

    U.S. judges admit to jailing children for money.

  • Dustin

    I would beg to differ. If you believe that your rights are unalienable, then I could understand how you formed your opinion. Rights being unalienable is just a myth, it is and idea, and a bad one at that. Once someone commits a crime against another person, they alienate themselves from certain rights. If you steal you alienate yourself from property for the sake of repayment of the loss. If you kill someone, you alienate yourself from your right to your own life. I am against capital punishment, however, that doesn’t mean life long capital loss isn’t in order. Life is concidered priceless. The only thing that can be done for victims is to give them some form of retribution. Currently, the government steals the retribution from the victims, with the exception of civil court. Government tells you that when a murderer is killed on death row the victims families can have closure. Yeah right. There is never closure. If someone steals my identity, the fact that they are caught does little to ease my mind. Retribution does. Privatization is a evolutionary step for mankind. Anarchy is not always chaos, anarchy with a lack of planning is.