The US has the largest private prison network in the world, which only seeks to do one thing – generate money for the legislators who created it
When the US passed the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program or (PIE) in 1979 to replicate real-world private sector “employment opportunities” for inmates of US incarceration systems, it was done for positive reasons – having inmates maintain themselves, and also keep their skills practiced for their eventual release. But as with many other laws passed that benefit corporate America, the program soon fell short and found a way to be manipulated for profit.
“The Mount Everest revenue growth in the private-prison industry
unequivocally represents everything that’s wrong with our pay-to-play government.”
Now, the US has the biggest for-profit prison system in the world, and the labor done by the incarcerated has made the PIE the most exploited factor of the scheme. Within this, the agricultural sector is the largest “job market” and farmers the largest utilizer of inmates, which to many would be unsurprising given that farms rarely pay any sort of livable wage to the hands that work them. Prisoners became the cheap alternative when many of the majority southern-border states passed anti-immigration laws of their own preventing the usual illegal aliens from working the farms (As featured in Vice on HBO’s recent episode ‘Sweet Home Alabama’).
As Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream said yesterday in a blog post for Huffington Post, “The Mount Everest revenue growth in the private-prison industry unequivocally represents everything that’s wrong with our pay-to-play government.”
The reflections have been sent directly to the tax-payer for years, as most know. Not to mention the fact that the corporate prison enterprise “commodity” of sorts literally is traded on the NYSE. On average in 2010, it cost about $31,000 a year to keep an adult in prison, and this number varied by almost $30-40,000 depending on state. The juvenile system fares even worse as it costs close to $408 per day per inmate.
Where do these profits go? Prisoners on average earn less than a dollar per day from the labor they commit to, an abysmal truth that proves this method of “reform and preparation” for release is nothing more than a sham in our current time, given that those who do go back into society rarely have the opportunity to get a job paying livable wages being convicted felons. It would appear that most of the profit goes right back to the politicians who signed for it in order to be re-elected. Ben Cohen, mentioned previously, runs a non-profit known as StampStampede.Org seeking to “stamp the money out of politics“, and makes good argument for lumping the private prison system in with the likes of big oil, pharmaceuticals, insurance, and any other corporate entity that has become the largest player in the political game.
Until cheap-labor can become a thing of the past, this industry will continue to not only maintain, but also thrive, which has kept the taxpayer subsidizing this scheme without a choice. Currently, buying produce and other foods at the cheapest prices is the only option to most Americans, thus causing a cycle of farmers keeping wages low, and prisons providing forced-employment that fits the need.
-Curt Cramer (@CurtisRemarc)