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Should prisoners be used as cash cows? How Louisiana became the prison capital of the world...
In most societies, locking people up is costly. In America, it’s profitable...
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It's encouraging to know that you are thinking about this. I hope you might make a positive impact. Cheers!
I think that's a GREAT idea - they're giving back to the society they were incapable of being part of as a free human. Why should the rest of us, whom have done no wrong, have to pay for them? Of course they should be put to work. 
Not only does it mean they pay their own way, it means that if they are good for rehabilitation, they have work references and experience. 
Mar Cel
I like where you're going with this article Richard!
Murder two people in cold blood, spend the rest of your life in jail! What is wrong with this picture? Tired of spending my tax dollars to keep these pices of crap alive and living in a jail. Are judges really blind or just don't care?
Not to mention if they're working for life rather than just jailed for life, it means they're being useful and not just costing money. It would be incentive for the public not to encourage the death penalty. Currently the logic stands, because if they're jailed for life, well hell, having 'em dead would be cheaper. 
It's a good idea. If there is a way for the jail to make money to sustain its self and not use tax payer money but its a fine line to walk as it can and has turned into slave labor and sentencing becoming harsher as some judges have an interest in the business end of it. Which should not be allowed! 
More to the point, I think the profit they generate should be put towards helping the elderly, the homeless, the needy and the sick. 
Because all over the world, the institutions in place for helping those in need is significantly lower quality than the level of life in most prisons. 
Interestingly reminiscent of Victorian Debtors Prisons. Perhaps we should be trying to move on from this model by now?
Well heck again, if you've broken the most base and basic understandings - like you really shouldn't kill people without damned good reason - then you've forfeited your basic rights. You've deprived someone else of them after all.  
This is despicable and is actually a huge issue here in the US, that nobody seems to address. I'm all for capitalism but this goes beyond it, it's immoral and not too many people seem to have a problem with it (maybe most people don't know about it or don't have the energy to care....)
only because it's privatized and the corporations run it like a business, then it just becomes a bad cycle of "justice" where you're not being rehabilitated but just put through the system as lawmakers profit as well from this
No. It's a form of slavery. Just because someone is isolated from society does not necessarily mean that they should not have any rights at all. I think to a certain degree that prison inmates should be put to good use while they are serving their time but it would be better if institutions were built for the actual purpose of rehabilitating and reintegrating individuals with social issues back into society by providing them with an actual trade that they can use upon release. 

If you look at the American Infrastructure or one of my favorite documentaries by the History Channel "The Crumbling America", (The Crumbling of America) you will notice that the heart of our countries structural integrity is crumbling beneath our feet. Why not utilize inmates to restore americas infrastructure, while altogether maintaining our countries integrity for the prosperity and future generations of our country?

In the process of doing so, inmates would learn a trade and america would solve it's infrastructure problem. The money that private prisons make would be happy and overall, there would be major benefits and progress being made on several levels.
I'm still not seeing the problem. You're always going to have people doing bad things, and people locked away for life, so why not put them to good use? There's no reason why the working conditions should be worse than your average normal person. I'm very fortunate now, I only have to work 10 hours a day, 6 days a week - but when I needed to pay for my education, I was doing a full time course and holding jobs as a manager for a chocolatiers, a receptionist for a big solicitors AND retail assistant in a clothes shop. It was hard work, and all my money went to paying my education bill - but I was able to support myself and my education. 
So yeah, I'm still not seeing any problems here - why shouldn't they do something useful? 
What concerns me about this is that if it is more profitable to keep members of the public incarcerated rather than part of society but on the dole, the system will bias toward fining reasons to prosecute the poor.  Profiling is a very real thing.
what is the reason for keeping these people caged up, why not give them 40 acres and a mule and haft goes to the state and the other haft they could be productive,(But they have to produce SOMETHING!) and serve their time? this is a Issue that needs to be address, prisons are big business now.
+Christopher Pernell Thames - slavery was when I was earning just £1.70 an hour, justified by the government because I was an "apprentice". 
+Aaron Harper - currently they're kept incarcerated and paid for by the public. They get a small income of their own to buy privileges with. I'd rather they earned it. I have to pay for my own stuff, so why shouldn't they? 
Does anybody have a solution for Louisiana's homicide problem? TWO cities in the top 5 in the whole country! Stands to reason that we would also be prison capital of the country too. Exactly what is supposed to be done with these people who kill with reckless abandon and no respect for society in general?
More to the point +Christopher Pernell Thames , WE haven't isolated them. THEY have isolated them. If you go round doing something that is wrong, you have to live with the consequences. It's down to the judges to make the punishment fair and just - that's why they're called judges. 
It's slave labor and encourages governments to create more laws that lock people up for free labor.  A lot of the prison contracts with these private prisons are structured so that the community has maintain a 90% occupancy rate for the prison...  How do you do that? By putting more people in jail either justly or unjustly.
well we all know deep down inside we are just punishing the mentally ill 
I've lived in cities like Houston and worked with the Probation Department there for many years.  I can really understand where you're coming from +Bryan Foster -  If people live in a peaceful city (with less than a million and less than 100 homicides a year) probably won't be able to truly grasp that there REALLY exists a group of people with NO or next-to-NO respect/love/compassion for their fellow human beings?  There are people who will always do bad.  They will act as good as they can to get out and say whatever it takes to people/media/advocate groups to ensure their freedom.  Once they get out, they (almost always) go back to their old, bad (read- dangerous to society) ways.  What do you do then?  How do you handle people who can't handle acting peaceful and being free and responsible in society?  You make a prison.  It's an ugly but effective truth.
+Brad Reiter That's ridiculous. If everyone gets thrown in prison, who will build the prisons? The prisoners? My ass.
Stephen Harper is trying to move Canada into this area too.  Incarcerating those who are deemed 'undesirable' to fuel an emerging 'corrections industry'.  Canada is a nascent nation of incarceration as well. 
+Richard Branson  I dont know if its right or wrong. For me it would have to do with the severity of the crime.Lets remember that Human Rights work both ways. I do agree that better rehabilitation programs are desperately needed, however human behavior has its ways to sometimes disappoint massively. As I recall there is a movie called "the Experiment" and basically the plot consists on 26 people chosen randomly to play inmates and guards and at some point things go out of control. Its a movie I know, but there is also a Discovery Channel one hour investigation with Eli Roth where they replicate an experiment in which people is led to believe that they are applying electroshock to somebody else in the next room and just ONE person refuses to do such thing from the begining. the rest went on even when they heard people screaming for their lives. So what does that tell you??
I aslo think that politics and the "law" has been perverted/corrupted as time goes by. Its not about the crime anymore, its about the lawyers creating reasonable doubt. We all have learned that evidence is important but also evidence can be planted, removed or overlooked, and that is in a country where the laws say that people is "innocent until proven guilty".
Now Im mexican, and the laws here, well, corruption doesnt even begin to describe what the legal system is like. Over here people is guilty until payed out to be framed or released. (watch documentary Presunto Culpalble) The prisons are a joke! When I was in university me and a group 10 students went to a state prison to work with female prisoners. One woman, who by the way suffered a mild mental issue was jailed because she feed 10 "illegals", then people running away from their country desperately seeking better opportunities, they were famished and the crime this woman committed was FEEDING THEM!! and yet lots of murderers and thieves run free in my country, making lots of money while good people who pay taxes and work hard face more and more difficulties to maintain a life style, or simply SURVIVE!
So if inmates can do something useful to society while learning a new way to make a living and continue to be useful to society when released then so be it. but lets just make sure that they dont relapse and that punishment goes accordingly to the crime.
+Bryan Foster Legalize drugs, you undercut a lot of the violence related to drug crimes.

+james james 90% occupancy for the prison, not the entire town... and to your point why not?  Just get a chain gang out there to build the prison... it'd be a lot cheaper than hiring actual construction workers.
The key point seems to be are prisons for taking revenge on wrongdoers or for rehabilitating them? 
The vengeful societies don't seem to be successful in reducing crime.
As mentioned by one of the comments on your post, one of the biggest problems is that people are already resentful of how good prisoners have it. They have cable TV and three meals a day that are better than what many impoverished families get.

I think one of the downsides of the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality in the US is that it's therefore expected that everyone should, and can do so. It ignores discrimination as a result of socio-economics. The biggest problem facing creativity in public well being in the US is the US public and ingrained ideas about who deserves what. Unfortunately, the economic problems and political unrest is making it considerably worse.
Many +1s for +Kevin Larson . 
Those type of people are called sociopaths, or psychopaths. And sadly, they do exist. They can act sweet as peas and good as gold when they need to, because it benefits them and potentially allows them to go on to what they want to do. Likewise, they can abuse people and do horrific things because it benefits them and allows them to go on to what they want to do. 
The moral of the story - there are many people out there whom are not afraid of society's tools of bad behaviour control. 
The problem is (just like the Iraq War), people want a single reason that justifies what got done, when in actuality, there are (usually, and in this case, as well) multiple reasons, so that when people focus on a single issue, they can declare unfairness. Is prison punishment, or rehabilitation? What is Justice? What do the prisoners owe to society? How much is reasonable to spend per prisoner? Until we can agree on the questions, we will never find the answers.
Prisons are a trap that programs people to know only that, they can't escape unless they try really hard. Obviously people aren't learning their lesson, they're just sucked into a certain life that is "easier" than trying to make it in the real world. They usually want to go to jail when they have already been. The owners of these jails and drug cartels make a lot of money when things are illegal.

Prisoners are people too. They are victims of their circumstances and the system, especially when the rest of society treats them like trash. We are all perpetuating these cycles that continue to get worse, and we reap what we sow. And i know there are many innocent people being sent to jail because our legal system is imperfect. Teaching our children that its ok to abuse other people, that certain humans don't deserve certain unalienable rights, for what? I know that these people have lots of problems, but I know that everyone does. If someone wants to change, they can. If you want to end conflict, start with forgiveness. Thats where real change starts. That frees you so you are not spreading more hate and fear.
+David Pinter - people leave the current facilities in the same way they entered, largely liable to reoffend. I'm aware of the corruptness of judges, but I still don't feel that this should mean that criminals shouldn't pay their debt to society properly. Putting them to work would help rehabilitate them, as they can put pride in the work they do and learn a useful skill for use outdoors. 
+Heather Mohieddeen - how are you seeing getting these people to work in a useful fashion as "revenge"? 
And thanks +Harry Sanborn, that was precisely the point I'm getting at. They should help look after people in worse situations than themselves. 
I have no problem with sending violent offenders to prison, I do have a problem with sending non-violent offenders to prison for life (3 drug convictions = life sentence in the article).
+Hugh Stone III , currently prison is punishment, with little in the way of rehab. Many prisoners reoffend to get back in prison just because it's the only way of life they understand. 
+Kristine Schmitt , you are quite correct - currently not much happens to help reincorporate them in a sensible fashion. The prison system will always be imperfect, but at least it could be doing some good for people in need OUTSIDE of the prisons. To your later point, with sociopaths, it is mostly impossible to tell a repentant from someone who's just faking. People lie, some better than others. 
We need judges with the wisdom to use discretion  where necessary, to remove compulsory sentencing. Likewise, we need a mechanism to remove judges who use their discretion in an indiscreet way.
+Hugh Stone III , that would be lovely, but unlikely to happen. As someone said previously - like cancer, there's no single cure for all the cases. I do think there should be better defined structure to the sentences though, and yes, an improvement on corruption handling methods. 
+Brad Reiter - no disagreement there.  Non-violent drug offenders really need a rehabilitation facility with re-integration programs and education (school/job-retraining) and life-skills programs to help them.  They also have to be released to a completely new environment (read- county- city or state or province) due to their old life tripping them up again.  I understand the need for better treatment for non-violent offenders.  But violent offenders.  They are quite a different story altogether.
How about that old fashioned idea spoken most eloquently by the singer on the opening cut to Baretta : _Don't Do The Crime, If You Can't Do The Time.

The issue is DON'T break the law. Doesn't matter whether I feel that a law is "stupid". If it's on the books...then I can EXPECT to pay the consequences for breaking that law. Leaning on an excuse like "legalize drugs" is weak and an illogical argument. If there are laws against drug use the DON'T DO IT .... plain and simple.

I'm an African American male living in Louisiana who has NEVER gone to prison or jail. Know why? Because I have never given the law any REASON to lock me up. And if I ever do, it's MY OWN FAULT...not "society's" fault. 

Here's an outdated concept: Personal Responsibility !
+Kevin Larson , precisely the reason I think that putting them to a job and training them a skill would be a great idea :) 
+Patrick Armstrong - sourcing and evidence? I don't live in the US, so I don't understand your reference. 
+Bryan Foster , easier said than done with some people. Heck, nice, everyday persons like you and I understand that - we don't want to waste years of our one-use-only lives without liberty, but other people out there neither understand, appreciate or care about the results. 
However, I totally and thoroughly agree with you on personal responsibility. Too many people are blaming other people for how screwed up they are. So what if you had a crap upbringing? Join the club. It doesn't give you the right to be a d-bag about it. :)
Which reminds me +Richard Branson , if you want someone good at common sense (and I notice you use a lot of people like that in your company - thank you SO much for allowing people to choose the music they want to listen to whilst on hold!) then I'm your girl. 
+Amber Petchey "So what if you had a crap upbringing..." 

Some people really can grow up in such a poor situation that they do not learn the basic life skills that we take for granted. In my foolish, youthful, libertarian mindset in college, I related how my family didn't have much money growing up. I got a job in high school, paid my way through college, etc. I was rebuked, and handily, by a professor who had spent time in inner cities in both the US and the Middle East.

She said, essentially, that I grew up in a decent school system, learned basic financial skills, learned basic skills as it related to job markets, and basic skills about interpersonal relationships. Contrast that to an inner city youth with no support network, a single parent who was often gone working, who learned interpersonal skills navigating the gangs in his neighborhood.

There are people who have successfully come out of those situations, but they have to overcome a lot of innate survival traits that don't prepare them to fit into societies expectations of work culture, financial awareness and planning, etc. These are things many of us take for granted because we happened to have been brought up with slightly less severe surroundings.
Someone tell MSNBC to stop making those "Lock-Up" shows!  The kids I work with in REAL lock-up idolize the thugs on those shows.  Society needs to stop idolizing the "losers".
Cheap and/or free labour usually is.
Again, I appreciate that +Harry Sanborn - most of us are spoilt. A few of my friends are ex-incarcerates whom have worked hard to put themselves back to good, and appreciate the result of their actions. However, surely that's another good reason for the inmates to be put to good work to raise funds for those in worse situations? ;) 

And +Kevin Larson , you're totally right. Being "bad" isn't glamorous. It's dangerous and miserable. 
Should the innocent pay to house and feed the guilty?

Prisons shouldn't be profit centers, but if they can be self-sufficient it would be nice.

Of course you could argue that by incurring a cost we are incentivized to find other ways to head off crime, but I'm not sure we as a society are that wise or proactive.
My question is who should pay for the incarcerated? Them or the very folks they wronged to end up in prison? I keep hearing calls for less taxes but jails don't run for free.
+Dali Sekhon , have a read of some of the discussions regarding slavery here, and expand on your theory. Effectively just saying "yes" adds little to the conversation. 
They are cheap labour, and I think maybe the ones not on death row should have to work, rather than the state in England at the moment where they have game consoles and flat screen TV's. It wouldn't surprise me if they had Sky + too!
Take all that stuff away, they are there to suffer for the crime they committed, not live a life of luxury.
+Luke Blaney Even with TVs, I'm pretty sure most of them aren't thrilled with the conditions in which they find themselves. The TVs are there to keep the general population from deciding to riot for the fun of it.
Rehabilitating prisoners is probably the underlying fundamental reason involved as to why prisoners are made to work.  The assuming end product is that the system results with productive, capable people who want to positively contribute towards society.  The only thing is that there are a number of variables and factors involved within the entire incarceration process from start to finish and to delve into each one of them requires much more in-depth analysis.
+Bryon Carter , the rest of us have to support ourselves on naff wages. grins And most of us try to help those less privileged. So, you know, where's the problem? ;) (just playing with you. But seriously, it's a solid point.)
+Luke Blaney - the ones on death row definitely should work. It would be psychologically good for them, as it would take their mind off their situation and give them something good to focus on. There's a huge backlog after all. 
+Harry Sanborn , prison's a lot better than living on the street. 
+byron carter: I think it was "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." But most of them are not in prison for walking on the lawn, and many have conditions so bad outside of prison, that they will commit crimes of violence to return, if released. Obama ought to pardon everyone in jail for possession of pot and cocaine, since apparently, you can become President of the United States by doing those drugs. That would greatly help to relieve prison crowding.
Oh no, +Hugh Stone III , please don't introduce the Bible into the discussion. That's a really, really bad idea. 
On the other hand, I think declassifying and distributing and taxing drugs the same way as tobacco and alcohol would be a genius idea. It would severely whip the rug out from under people's feet, and ensure much safer produce. 
This Country has and will be a prison Country. We make our living on locking people up for Profit.This creates employment for millions. It also instills fear among the the population to obey the rules of the elistist as they steal and lie to us. I tell everyone stay as far from this place as possible. I am 60 yrs old and my life is over bad health so there is nothing they can do to me.
Too everyone who thinks a privatized prison industry is great, I have a mixed response to that.  

Remember the purpose of a business is to "make profit".  That's it.  Everything else is secondary.  That does not make the company running the prison evil, it just makes them a business and nothing more.

However, keeping what I said in mind, does everyone remember what happened in Arizona?  The large prison lobby bankrolled a huge lobbying effort that was somewhat successful, to get the state of Arizona to arrest more illegal immigrants and thereby sending more business their way.  Do you want THAT kind of lobbying influence poisoning how prisons are run for profit in the USA?  I don't.  That's unethical to say the least AND it does absolutely nothing to stop the policy-makers/prison industry-types from making the changes need to keep more people out and not in a prison.  

But I agree with the fact that prisons are expensive and cost the taxpayers LOTS of money.  So a more ethical and cost-effective way of dealing with this is to make the profit go back to society in some way or another.  Make the criminals put back (in dollar terms) some of what they wrongfully took out in the first place.  

For that, you need a government AND corporate solution.  Government is inefficient and some corporations are too greedy.  So therefore, an intelligent merger of the two (when it comes to dealing with violent offenders) needs to be worked out.
Prisons should be costly as a constant reminder of those that we have failed.  We will continue to bear this burden until we (As a society) do a better job of taking care of our people.
Privatization of prisons is dangerous. These prisons can only profit on a head count. They can not profit from law abiding citizens. The people that run these private prisons also commit millions of dollars to lobby our elected officials in D.C. (lobbying is political speak for bribing and or bribery)

There is profit in chaos. 
Didn't anyone watch Robo Cop? (sarcasm)   
Return to prison labor construction, not prison service industries and circular recidivism policies!
laughing That's fair +Bryon Carter - I used to live round the corner from one. But rather, if the illegal supply lines were heavily reduced by legalising supplies, I think it might reduce the abuse also. Or at least, the tax on the product would help pay for the care, much way that alcohol contributes both sick people and funding towards the NHS! 
+Kevin Larson , once again, that's a well reasoned mixed response. On the other hand, the illegal immigrants have come across for good reason - to get work and better living conditions. Whilst prison wouldn't be awesome, at least they'd get both of those and learn a skill for when they get out. It's not a great bonus, but y'know, it is kind of a bonus. :S 
+Brian Salter "to those we have failed"? The heck? What, I told that dude with the rifle to go shoot a bunch of kids? Or that person that snapped and stabbed my friend and her unborn baby to death? We can't spot all abberations waiting to snap - on the other hand though, the profit made by the inmates could go towards improving the conditions of those whom are mentally ill also. 
Prisons should not be for profit. It's giving society mixed messages. For one, to work should be seen as a privilege. So prisons should be focused on rehabilitating the people and helping them find their place in society. We make poor choices all the time. Some people choose to harm others. Obviously that is not acceptable. But we shouldn't treat anyone less like use them for slave labour. That's just wrong to me. What is then the incentive to release the people if they are the most productive? If they make money, the money should be given back to the workers in some sort of trust and towards funding rehab. If they get probation, they then have access to the money they made while in prison in increments. That ensures that they can continue to function in a society and hopefully don't reoffend because they are pressed for money. Obviously all in my opinion. 
Cocaine, Meth, Crack, Heroin, Morphine... HELL no!  Do not legalize but please do rehabilitate.  Marijuana... regulate and tax the hell out of it like alcohol.  
@Bryon Carter Happened to Charlie Parker (saxophonist).
I cannot find the post I just scanned, I apologize for not being able to directly reference, but it mentioned capitalism as both problem and aid in prison systems.  

We were to fail, completely, as a nation of enterprise, how many here think prison pops would decrease?  I'm thinking the opposite would be so and then what?  Probably, a sure return to "chain gang" style systems.

As usual, some people want a government on down answer, instead of, a family and community values answer, which, would be more viable.  
Again, fair and reasonable +Bryon Carter - but otherwise, what is the answer? 
+Damon Mak - how ridiculous! To work isn't a privilege! It should be a requirement. Currently too many people are happy to sit on their backsides and get money for free from the government. People should work for a living. A poor choice is all very well, but how do you explain reoffenders? 
It's still costly - it is, in fact, more costly because not only are the tax payers on the hook for the cost of operating the prisons, they're now also paying extra to the corporations that they leech out of the system and refer to as "profit". 

Incidentally, the same thing almost certainly applies to the UK now, except for health care and the recipient of the tax payers largesse there is one megacorporation by the name of Virgin something or other... :p 
I'm not a fan of slave labor, but then again, I'm not a fan of paying for a criminal's room and board. Have them work it off so that the tax payers do not have to pay for them.
Likewise, I understand your point with the hard stuff - but again +Kevin Larson , what's the answer? Pot should be a definite though :) 
+Amber Petchey - I say no to legalizing the hard drugs not for moral reasons.  I say no because any prolonged use of hard drugs changes (sometimes radically and almost never for the better) people.  Those changes often lead to violent to self or other people-kinds of behaviors.  Use the hard drugs for medicine?  Sure!  But not like beer or wine.  I could see using Mushrooms or Peyote over many of the toxic medications used for mental illness too.  There's great uses for drugs, some of them as a legal recreational outlet (like alcohol) or as medicinal aid.  
+Amber Petchey I'm in Canada. :) that could explain the difference in views. To see it as a requirement, would mean I don't necessarily have a choice and I could be forced to do something. What is the joy in that? I also think we should work until the day we die because it is a privilege. 
+Kevin Larson : That's called socialism. And for many americans it is just as well as saying communism, so we can forget about that.
Very interesting. No. They should only get funding in relation to rehabilitation and those who don't re-offend, like you said
+Kevin Larson - makes sense. Mind you, long term alcohol abuse does horrific things to the system and kills hundreds of people too, as well as leading to radical behaviour changes. 
+David Sulewski , they're trying to do that in the UK with kids skipping school. Whilst it works for some, it would punish many, many more innocent people unneccesarily. 
+Damon Mak - possibly. I've always been a believer in paying my own way and not expecting anyone else to do it for me. I think the world would be a much better place if people took similar responsibility for themselves. (I work in a bank, and I can certainly see the benefits if people just took responsibility for looking after their own finances for starters.) However, I also think people should make provision for retirement - I think it it wonderful that you clearly enjoy the work you do, but I certainly wouldn't want to work my entire life. That's why I pay into a pension plan (even though I'm only 26) because I'm taking responsibility for my own freedom. 
Doesn't work either, the jails will evaluate the "rehabilitability" of prisonners and refuse them on that basis.
Where do you think they're getting the money from to "rehabilitate" them +Eamon Ahern ? 
Amber, the point you miss is that if it's profitable to imprison someone, then YOU get imprisoned, whether you ever did anything wrong or not. It's not about being nice to bad people, it's bout protecting YOURSELF from being unfairly considered bad and being imprisoned for no justifiable reason. Otherwise someone like me would decide dumb people like you are an annoying parasite on society, and get laws and regulations passed that are simply too complicated to get right (like say the way the tax code and many other things are already) then go round you up and ship you off to be productive for me in a prison. I'd be ok becuse I'm a white male with a tech job and I have buddies in the right offices and I can afford to pay an accountant and lawyer to navigate the rules for me. I won't bother asking if you get it now. Just consider yourself lucky other people are looking out for YOU even though you don't care about them.
+David Sulewski - hold the families responsible?  Nice in theory but in this day and age of the "I'm OK and you're OK and no-one is to blame" world... that idea quickly gets shot down, and usually with shot down with extra vehemence.  Besides, there's not as much left to the institution of family anymore.  Not even the new, alternative families.  We're in uncharted territory (when it comes to "the family") nowadays. 

+JP Lizotte - how is what I proposed socialist?  We have corporate welfare (socialist) but not this?  I realize that "realistically speaking" (as I believe that you were) is the reason why it won't happen.  So what then?  If we continue down this path, there won't be an America (that any of us recognize) to get back to?  
Not when corporations write our laws to get people into prison (ALEC).
It turns away from the real purpose which is to arrest the person that really dod the crime and to serve that time and come out to a new direction .... But thats all taken away because anyone that does anything they say $30,000 for you... 2 yrs in jail...
+Brian White - it's profitable for the bank to have very low paid wage employees - but we're not snatching people off the street and telling them to work. Like any company, they should have the same regulatory and restrictive processes, including breaks, meal times and rest time. It doesn't mean they have to be working 24/.7. More appropriately, they could be shift-work. 
There is a limit to everything - supply and demand. Please look into effective economics :) There's a common sense approach to everything. That applies to you too, +Oztin Tayshus . PS, I smell a troll. 
I live here in the US and I don't think it should be profitable for prisons to house inmates at all it promotes more laws that could be possibly broken aand a higher rate of crime look at switzerland where they issue you a rifle and sidearm at age 15 crime rate there is almost nil!!!! That should be practiced everywhere in the world!!!
+shadow joseph - Switzerland is also significantly smaller, and with much less underfunded/deprived areas. Giving everyone guns at 15 wouldn't solve the problem. Let's face it, pretty much everyone in America can have a gun, and look at THAT mess. 
+David Sulewski - You weren't wishful thinking.  You were thinking what nearly everyone who deals with children and crime or adults and crime thinks of some point.  It was valid but if you ACTUALLY bring it up and/or try and actually do something about it in a meeting between the offender and their families with the councilors and the prison officials around (maybe even a few layers and a judge)... guess what?  You're looked at as being a heartless, evil bastard for suggesting that the family sitting at the table has ANY blame whatsoever!  Seriously.  They look evil at you for suggesting someone at the table, other than the criminal involved is responsible.  In those settings it becomes quite apparent that no-one is to blame.  Well... no one WANTS to accept that crappy role of blame because no-one wants to face the truth.  And that's really what it boils down to in a lot of instances.
+Richard Branson If you are thinking of starting Virgin Prison... DON'T!!!.  It is likely to be so well done criminals will commit the third strike just to enjoy your hospitality.
Since you involvement in the #versus  debate +Richard Branson, I truly look forward to you having a positive affect in many of these social areas.
Another term for NOBama and busniess will be booming
NOBama 2012
well amber i wanted you to see that switzerland also mandatorily makes its citizens serve 4 years in the military also they train you for that 4 years to become a model citizen!!!!
The problem is that they are not being rehabilitated, that many sentences, such as simple drug possession, are over-the-top, and those prisoners sentenced become burdens on society that we pay for, for life.  
All crime that isn't motivated by pure insanity and a lust to hurt others (which makes up a minute fraction of all crime) is caused by our societal design today. Money equals freedom, so stealing makes perfect sense. The only downside for the amoral is the threat of punishment (and in spite of the hideous for-profit ideas in the states, where there is now an incentive not to minimize crime but to maximize prison occupancy which is wrong on so many levels, a minute fraction of criminals actually get caught.) 

We'll never do away with crime until we reform our societies into versions that are built on cooperation and not competition. Right now, everything we do is just combat based - ritual, sometimes fairly cerebral combat but nevertheless, completely conflict based. Even just getting a job is a battle against the other applicants, albeit not physically. The way to get rid of crime is simply to change our viewpoint on society and work towards one where all humans are provided with all their needs and most of the extras they desire (like entertainment and travel etc) and where cooperation and doing what's right for society is also doing what's right for the citizen. We could do that today if we chose sane ways to apportion resources and made sane choices as to what we do and don't do. Unfortunately, our choices today are pretty much wall-to-wall hideous.

It doesn't help matters that we spend in a little over a week on the worlds militaries the equivalent amount of money that could feed the world for a year - our priorities are simply completely messed up.

Technologically and as far as knowledge goes, we could be providing all humans with their needs now... which would coincidentally reduce crime enormously. We could also stop classifying non-crimes as crimes (drugs, for instance, are a health issue, not a criminal one until we made it one and opened the door to huge drug-related crime issues.) But until we wise up and change our world and our approach to society radically, we're going to continue down the path towards oblivion - quite literally.
The way I figure it, the gov't is taking more than 40% of what I make between income tax, gas tax, property tax, sales tax, excise tax, etc....
That said, why should it be any better for the prisoners?
Christopher Pernell Thames states it's a form of slavery. It isn't. Crime is voluntary. Slavery isn't. If people want to legalize drugs, then don't sell drugs until you have those drugs legalized.  We can wish the laws were different as we wile away our time in the prison law library. I think the death penalty could be used to consolidate political power.  Lifers should sure do hard labor so they're worth the food they eat.  I'm doing hard labor so I can provide an essential service: adult medicine. Docs call prisoners and druggies SHPOSs, sub human pieces of stool.
There is that +shadow joseph - and I agree that mandatory work would do the public good. Being sent to military camp every summer didn't do me harm - but then you'll have the bleending heart patrol on your case. On the other hand, I still don't think giving guns to everyone is a great idea. There are enough people that can't manage their own money (as shown by all these disgusting payday lender companies) let alone life and death over other people. 
I appreciate what you're going at +Kimmo Jaskari - however I can't see the elegant solution. 
+Jeffrey Schwartz - the gvt aren't likely to give the money back in way of lower taxes, however it could once more be used for better purposes. 
+John Townsend - there are enough repeat reoffenders to have an actual word for them - "recidivists". You're welcome. :)  
  Louisiana makes a profit in the prison business because other states would rather pay Lousiana to incarcerate their criminals instead of building and maintaining their own prisons.

  You want prisons to "rehabilitate" criminals? Pay up for that service and it will be done but I don't see states ponying up the cash for people they want out of sight and out of mind.

  Try from starting your own nonprofit rehabilitation facility and
1. See if you can get the permits inside a state other than Louisiana.
2. Actually attempt to rehabilitate the savage animals that roam America's inner cities. 
3. Find out that American penal institutions are recreational resorts when compared to prisons in other countries.
Its worth noting that this isn't a situation where there is a net income of the action of incarceration, just that the prison itself is profitable.  Nationally incarceration is becoming more and more costly so this just shows where some of that money is going.
If we start doing this I could foresee people being put into jail for no reason.
Interesting read, thanks for posting. Would it be OK if not private and profit going back into society? It is an interesting discussion.
I don't agree with this but,  this is the goal in a capitalist society to make money regardless of moral issues. 
Let's just go back to the Hammurabi system- people wouldn't murder anyone out of fear of their own death!
There are many things wrong with our prison system in the US. And I know of no other first world country that seeks to emulate us.

For instance, we could greatly lower the burden on our courts and prisons by decriminalizing drug use. But of course that would cut into the for-profit prison industry's income. It's in their and the elected officials who take bribes (umm campaign contributions) from them interest to keep the incarceration rate high.

That's the corruption the article was pointing out.
I'm not sure how I feel about people thinking that it's ok. If you make prison profitable, you make everything a crime.
I agree but look at Saudi Arabia where they have 0 crime rate because they make the punishment fit the crime if you are caught stealing they cut off your hand I don't quite agree with all their policies concerning women but i do agree more stringent punishments need to be implemented here in the states something needs to be done about the crime here and the bleeding hearts need to serve 4 years in the military mandatory to stop all the bleeding hearts from crying foul!!!!!its just a way for people to exempt themselves from serving  I'm willing to bet the crime rate would go way down and if we want to win the war on drugs stop the cia from importing the stuff into the US and everyone that complains about people coming into the US outside of legal channels needs to be put into our armed services for 8 years to become legal citizens that reduces the strain on the people here already i myself am Alaskan Indian and would love to see a lot of things change here in America lets do something instead of griping about it and waiting for it to change on its own more peaceful demonstrations are in order put repeat offenders on our frontlines in foreign wars lets reduce the number of people we lock up for murder rape and robberies!!!!!!! then it no longer is profitable for the government to house criminals!!!!!  
As a working 'expert' ;) I have to say there are better ways of managing prisoners.  You are looking at the most difficult end of Man Management <sigh> Most are not incarcerated because they are willing to work and make some sort of contribution to society. Having given them every opportunity to change attitudes <shrug> be assured, it's very difficult to motivate a change <leopard and spots springs to mind> Balance, as always, is the key :)
+Amber Petchey Look up the word "voluntary" in the dictionary some time.  It's the difference between a free society, and a fascist/slaver society.  You can't force people to do something against their will, whether criminals or unemployed, if you try, you're only setting the stage for violent rebellion, and you'd deserve it too, for desiring such a perverse society.
+Myrone Bagalay - And that is already happening to a small degree already in some states.  The exception to that is that it is not for "nothing" but for "next-to-nothing".  Incarceration means profit.
Sir Richard's point is that the incentives are wrong. Part of his "Screw Business as Usual" concept; nothing wrong with having real bad guys doing some meaningful work / labor to cover the cost of their incarceration, but instead of incentivizing business to keep them trapped forever why not incentivize business to innovate in rehabilitation as a primary business driver? I think its brilliant what a great double bottom line opportunity!
For profit prisons are immoral, unethical and unconscionable so.. no.
Why is amber petchey so annoying? I'm trying to read all the comments and all I find is amber petchey with the same responses 200 times in a row. Um calm down.
None of our systems are perfect typing in your ideas on how to change them isn't changing anything.
I recently broke the law.  I committed a crime that is punishable by up to one year in prison, and thousands of dollars in fines.  What terrible thing did I do?  I...held...a...hummingbird.  It had been injured by a cat, and was slowly dying.  If the local LEO's had found out, I would have been another statistic, yet another man in prison.  But for what?  For trying to help an injured animal.  (Yes, our laws are that dumb!)  And many other men are in jail for being in possession of a harmless weed, and are being kept there long after murderers and rapists are set free.  Isn't it time to put some common sense back into the law?
Slave labour is always immoral, not only because of the effect it has on the slaves, but because of the effect it has on the economy. If you can employ a prisoner to work on a plantation for 12 cents an hour, you don't have to hire a free man to do it for a few bucks an hour.

Prison labour destroys real jobs and allows profits to be made without money going back into the economy in the form of wages.

The full efforts of prisoners should be directed toward their rehabilitation, without regard for 'offsetting the cost of incarceration' - the best way to offset the cost of incarceration is to reduce the number of people in prison by reducing recidivism.

Prisons like Bastøy in Norway provide the lowest known rates of reoffending, but it's important to note that they are not a replacement for maximum security prisons - they cannot function without the threat of regular prison for inmates who try to escape or become violent. The combination of carrot and stick is important.

I don't know why anyone would think private prisons were anything other than a completely insane idea.

In the US, corruption related to private prisons is sufficiently bad that you have Judges being convicted of convicting innocent teens in order to receive bribes from privately run juvenile detention centers, and the corporations operating private prisons making political donations to encourage the passing of laws that would lock up massive numbers of illegal immigrants.
+Amber Petchey 
>Which reminds me +Richard Branson , if you want someone good at common sense [...] then I'm your girl. 

Yeah, don't hold your breath waiting for that job offer.

Ideally, don't post either.
All prisons should be self sufficient and not cost the country a penny, they should be run as a not for profit organisation. It would take someone just like Richard Branson to make these places viable, and when it is proven to work all old established prisons should be replaced with modern units which educate prisoners to be valuable members of society and not just another problem.
Private prisons are a stepping stone to concentration camps.
If a prison becomes a business the incentive is to fill them to capacity. This is why the US has the largest prison population in the world.
Look very carefully at who the shareholders are and the picture suddenly becomes very ugly. We do not want a situation where enemies of the shareholders fill their prisons - I refer of course to filesharers being fined $150,000 for one infringement, leading to jail in most cases. Having parties with a vested interest with the MPAA (for eg) controlling the prison is unthinkable - yet that is what the situation is in the US! Do we want that here?
I'm all for rehabilitation of prisoners through work, but it must be
1) voluntary (incentive being work experience for their CV so they are employable on release)
2) not for profit to line the pockets of shareholders, but for the upkeep of the prison and betterment of the local community and
3) closely monitored by an independent public entity.

If the above 3 conditions are not met, then... need I mention Hitler?
remember, when slavery was abolished in the 1860s the economic value of the slaves was over 50% of the entire US GDP...and many in the south have not forgotten... not sayin' its right...just sayin'...
Jp Lizotte socialism is heavy government regulation of companies and at the furthest extent government control of the industries. This to me sounds like a relief from the corporations controlling the government.
Especially since paying overhead fees for one government is less costly than paying hundreds of thousands of ceos
And right now our system lets out prisoners so that they don't have to pay to keep them in jail... Frankly that's a bunch of crap.
Wow, that is a bit disturbing.  That could easily create a situation where people are kept and needed to replace "workers".
What everyone is failing to see if that once this prison system becomes a business it will completely change the purpose of why it was set. Think about it for a second... If you commit a crime you will be send to jail, not to learn your lesson and became a functional member of society but rather to make some prison owner a lot of money through cheap labor. When the focus is cheap labor the punishment is going to be ridiculous. They are going to send you to jail and try to keep you in there as long as they can to make money from your labor. I went to jail for stealing 2 cars. I was there for a year, I was young and stupid and I did learn my lesson. You don't think the same way you do when you're 18 and when you're 28. I'm sure we all broke the law here some way some how. Have you ever run a red light? Had a drink and drove home? You failed to signal? There are many little things that we do sometimes and we don't think it's a big deal. How would you like to spend a year in prison for speeding? I'm not saying they're some member of society that are much better of locked up forever but if you are in favor of severely punish people for stupid crimes then let me remind you that you are not perfect... 
+Jose Gomez Not everyone is failing to see this. When the "economy" of incarceration becomes profitable, it incentivizes a whole mess of profit-seeking behaviors that have absolutely nothing to do with justice or punishment or even the nature of the crime itself. It becomes a source of slave labor.
If you run a business employing a captive workforce, aren't you setting up to require a constant number of 'staff'?
You mean the best of chain gangs. Look at what happened in the past. Those guys came out suicidal like bonnie and cyde. Anything not to go back!
I agree with what you're both saying, but it seems as if you think that the current judicial system is about justice. Ideally it is - however, in reality maybe not so much.
Richard Branson is great. If only all billionaires were as sane and reasonable. 
Prison for Profit proves Total Depravity! It promotes an US & THEM mentality who's target market is the poor. (of course) Smells like the pot is being stirred for something with a taste of actual "Hunter Games" to me.
People who agree with the privitization of prisons obviously don't see the conflict of interests. If a sheriff owns a prison, then it behooves him to arrest people in order for him to profit. It sets the stage for a very corrupt system. There was a judge somewhere who got in big trouble for sending kids to a private juvenile detention facility for long periods of times for minor offenses. This is the same thing. Instead of serving justice, they serve capitalism.
Frankly, the idea of prisons being run for profit is utterly abominable.  Any private organization is going to, by necessity, favor financial efficiency over 'mission' efficiency - in this case, the welfare and rehabilitation of prisoners.  Furthermore, given that many of the companies that own and operate for-profit prisons are either owned by or heavily invested in by members of law enforcement, this represents a gross conflict of interest - Is Sheriff Whatsisname throwing more and more public resources at drug enforcement because it represents the need of the community, or because he's got stock in Wackenhut and they need more bodies in cells to make profit numbers this month?  Add to that that many for-profit prisons have been cited time and again for gross human rights violations, and this paints a pretty clear picture that for-profit prisons are a mistake.

Furthermore - I'd like to point out that it's easy to say that prison isn't a playground, they should be doing hard time etc etc - but it's also easy to forget that these are actual human beings in there and that they will be getting out someday.  When a prisoner is released, do you want them to have had access to rehabilitation, mental health care, and vocational training to allow them to be a functioning and contributing member of society, or do you want them to be a person with a lot of pent-up anger from the way prisoners are treated, a giant axe to grind, and having had literally nothing else to do for the last ten years but lift weights and get nice and strong?

It's just bad math, people.  Any society that is going to make the decision to imprison people needs to take responsibility for that decision, if only for its own self-interest.
Privatizing prisons is the best example for why we have, and we need, government institutions for specific functions of government. No one should ever profit from criminal action. Every year it cost, on average, $65,000 dollars per prisoner to keep someone incarcerated. That's enough for one year of college education at some of the best schools in the US. Shameless. Reminds me of this story:
This is such a bad idea. So so bad it makese cringe. The very act of 'taking one's freedom and rights' is barely justifyable punishment to fit the crime in any case w/the exception of murder/rape/violent crime.

We simply can not evolve as a culture or society if we keep re-inventing ways to enslave people. To detain a person is reasonable, to enslave a person for profit is irresponsible and disgusting.
To those with 'punishment syndrome', have you ever made a mistake you regretted as soon as it was over?
It costs $47,000 a year to hold an inmate in California.  In order to break even jails would have to produce $22 of products per hour for a 40 hour work week.  At this rate it'd be cheaper to higher minimum wage employees @ $8 an hour and pocket the $14 difference.  Basically no one is ever going to make a substantial profit from prisons that they couldn't make from using an unincarcerated workforce.
Tony Va
Long term its in our best interest to  have nice prisons - cos you never know...
Mathematics show it doesn't work, at least not for the intended purpose - 80% of violent crimes are committed by people who have already been convicted and incarcerated for like crimes...
This is not American businesses fault! You can not say this is Capitalism's fault! Capitalism happens only when the government isn't heavily involved. But, through years of corruption and blatant disregard of the constitution, our noble system has been lead astray, opening avenues for lobbyist and opportunist to exploit the American people. The last thing we should do is hunt down capitalism. What we should do is give capitalism a chance. 
"Slavery By Another Name" Douglas A. Blackmon. Important stuff, and it's still happening, in a country where it shouldn't be.
One of Louisiana's largest prison is Angola (which is named after an African Country) they still have a slave mentality and uses prisoners on their working farm. Which is productive and cost saving, but with the use of slave labor. Ex-inmate Wilbert Rideau wrote a wonderful book about his life on death row "In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance" , and states that "slavery was commonplace in Angola with perhaps a quarter of the population in bondage". This was a very nice article, but what's missing is the fact that in Louisiana when they say "natural life" that's exactly what your going to get.
Wow!! I didn't know that and I live in America!!!
It is profitable for one, but costly for another. Not sure the majority are the winners here.
+Lindsey verified but the thing is its cheaper to hire outside of prison than to put everybody in prison and have to pay for there stay
+Brandon Clarke capitalism by its very nature is easy to corrupt the only way you can expell corruption is to have a common goal
+Shandra Jackson its not slavery when all we are asking is for prisoners to pay their debts to society instead of pushing us even further into debt.
after slavery was abolished in the US prisons started work farms in the south. They would rent out prisoners to who ever would pay for their services. Needles to say most of the prisoners were black.
+Pursuit Happitarian probably because they have a agriculture economy.that very same thing is true in the midwest. However they should pay for their own oppurtunities just as a college student must. How can you justify letting criminals be rewarded with the very same thing a college student pays thousands of dollars to earn?
Prison should be based on changing people for the better not just punishing people and perpetuating the situation.
Criminals are just victims of society.
No, this establishes a conflict of interest: between society's desire to maximize healthy social integration with a state incentive to profit from social misbehavior. 
To answer the question Should prisoners be used as cash cows? They already are it's a recurring affect when a American Black male is put into the system whatever the offense maybe. He when or if released may subject to negatively, solely based on the fact that he may come home to not having a job family has needs and so who of any of man if in his will to do so going let his family do without. So therefore he may get caught up in the moment n then being into the systtem already he is once stripped away from his family for corporation gain. So to the question no they shouldn't be some should n for those that are deserving of the crime should be locked up. Selling Weed n Caine is not a crime
+Christopher Fitz people in prison get degrees and tradeskills all the time look it up and don't resort to calling people names because your too lazy to type a search in google
And comparing a serious offense to jay walking is more out there than anything
+Christopher Fitz I would like to see you go to college and study diligently only to get the same degree a parole got in prison
There is a lot more to this. Someone should dig a little further. Incredible stuff. The private prisons finance politicians who pass laws... Simple as that!
And I would like to applaud anybody who does get a trade or a degree in jail. However, it shouldnt be paid for by tax payers
The  prisoners in Austria, sing different tale, they are thankful to the counties that decided to give them a second chance at , "serving their time" and being able to work off their time, without being caged like animals..I would rather do Share Cropping with the states instead of being caged.
Making them work okay as long as its fot mon profits or the government
Sha Man
Search CCA Corrections Corporation America, enough said.
Absolutely pathetic.  I'm glad someone who matters is bringing this disgrace to the public's attention.  
The movie 'Life', hit on this subject very poignantly.

The dispensation of justice in America is uneven. Paying one's debt to society should be pursued.

However, defacto slavery isn't the answer. Rehabilitation must be factored into the process, if not, the states become equally as criminal!

Being incarcerated for 5-10 years for a marijuana conviction, as opposed to 2-4 for stealing millions for insider trading, is ridiculous.

But then again, the perceived 'worth' of the defendant is why things are as is!
We are letting them go. Amnesty for non-violent offenders who help build the CA High Speed Rail with cement work will help alleviate stress on our highways! Once again, California paves the way for leading my nation...good 'ol US of A.
Instead of filling some greedy businessman's pocket, the profits should get put back into the community or allocated for rehabilitation purposes.
To answer the question of using prisoners as cash cows, in my opinion, it's a resounding yes. I have heard the human rights arguments, prisoners as slaves, exploitation for profit, blah blah. Where were the victim's human rights when they were murdered, kidnapped, and raped? As far as prisoners convicted for non-violent offenses, I do have more sympathy for. I am much more willing to fight for someone's human rights who is imprisoned for, let's say, possession of cannabis. Then again I think cannabis should be legalized, but that's a whole nother conversation for a whole nother day.
I can't wait till tommorw for the next one to talk about..
+Amber Petchey I fundamentally disagree with your statement that they have forfeited their rights. I believe in universal rights, those which can not be forfeited without your consent. It should not be up to a particular country's legal system to determine whether you get the fundamental treatment a human deserves.

As for the topic at hand, I feel like a lot of the commenters are forgetting to consider the intent of a prison. The intent is not to make money, otherwise slave labour would be the goal. Instead, depending on your country and cultural interpretation, the prison is designed to rehabilitate or punish. Its painfully clear how ineffective the later is... and the former is not guaranteed by a profitable prison. In fact, I would argue that allowing a prison to profit gives it incentive to cut corners and manipulate the system to extract the maximum revenue. I think greater centralized, government involvement with national standards is logical... If that included a system to minimize cost by allowing the inmates to work for certain benefits, that's fine... but it should be carefully controlled to avoid abuse.
whats the point ?
i disagree they have their right and what to do....
History repeats itself? (Slavery?)
It cost on average $47,000 to keep a prisoner in the united states. The average person in the united states income comes to just over 24,000. How are these companies that run these prisons making profit?
As a forensic social worker I see this in my job everyday. It's devastating to see juveniles in the state of Florida getting sentenced to life for non-homicide crime. Teens been treated as adults and put away for life without any chance for rehabilitation so sad. Thanks for bringing attention to this issue.
If you privatize your jail system its going to cause you issues, in essence the companies that run these jails would like to see as many people as possible locked up, hence they lobby for extremely draconian laws with long sentences.    
Prison slave labor is a crime, torture is a crime, war is a crime, drones are terrorist tools so we have wolves guarding the henhouse by authorizing fossil fuel industry pollution versus eco friendly energy solution and Mother Earth is continuously raped by shortsighted fools.
None of the quotes offered by Byron Carter seemed to touch on the point he was trying to make as well as my quote. What is it about the Bible as a book that sends the fear of God into everyone? Looking at the history of attempts to rehabilitate rather than punish, almost ALL attempts came from religious groups, as retribution versus salvation is primarily a religious argument.
I wasn't making a religious argument; I was providing a quote far closer to the thought that was being expressed than the ones from 1900 years later. I completely agree with you on declassifying drugs goes (the illustration I made when discussing them is, if pot were simply treated like tobacco, speedboats on the way to the US would have to dump their loads overboard and turn back, because there wouldn't be enough profit to pay for the gas to keep coming (of course, the law they attempted to pass in California also would have allowed everyone to grow two plants in their own hom for personal use, destroying the underground market in a moment).
Got to agree, however with Byron on crack. There is no level which many will not degradate themselves and those unlucky enough to love them, in order to get more crack. Women I know personally have sold themselves, forgotten their infant daughters were in the house (and perhaps would have sold THEM, if asked); my own brother, who had been through multiple jail terms and rehabs, worked with me for MONTHS to convince me that he finally had a plan for his life, doing hardwork. He set up a business plan, listed the tools he intended to buy. But instead of buying the truck for him, I kept it in my name. He performed a hit and run on the way to the crackhouse and tried to sell the truck for crack, but without the pink slip, he couldn't do it.
I don't iunderstand why folks are so paranoid about prisons imprisoning folks just because it's in private hands. The prisons don't decide who GOES to prison; only how they're treated, once convicted by the legal system. And if the prison population drops, one can always turn a prison into a secure commiunity, tearing down a few walls, modifying the plumbing and turning areas into luxury condos and homes.
+Kinmo Jaskan: Money equals freedom? It might give you more choices, but I've been poor and felt perfectly free. In America, there is nothing about the class you're born in that prevents you from rising to make as much money as you can. One of the best fast food places here, Wendy's, was founded by an orphan. Steve Jobs was left on someone's doorstep by a mother not prepared to care for him, and when he passed, Apple had more money than Exxon--the richest corporation in the US. It's about the idea, obtaining the financing, and running the risk--nothing more.
If there's any way to make incarceration pay its way, it should be done. Give the tax payers a little relief in this sector. Whether or not an inmate is guilty is irrelevant. That's a whole different hamburger and beside the point. Prisons should be run for profit.
Richard does not say that inmates should not work to participate at their costs, he says it is wrong that jailing people is primarily motivated by profit and not by the aim to reintegrate them into society.
Oztin, it's hardly privatized trafficking. A prison can be run for profit without enslaving the inmates. You make "human labor" sound like something awful. What's wrong with learning a trade in prison and getting used to the idea of a paycheck for work rendered? I believe a released convict will be more likely to follow that pattern and become more self-sustaining if he can learn something to help himself without being on the public dole.
Nothing so sinister as privatized trafficking in human labor for profit is intended. If you want to complain about something in prison, there are plenty of issues to take up that kind of energy.
Aaaand what the hell? I almost want to go commit a crime of my own so I can have my college paid for.

I like the idea of rewards and compensations for successfull rehabilitations but feel (know) that it ultimately does nothing to solve the behavior of criminals for the future.

Aren't most of the inmates that cause such over-crowding and large inmate numbers themselves repeat offenders?

The only real change possible requires changes of societal mores and tolerances. Which will greatly increase the numbers of inmates before the swelling goes down.
+Oztin Tayshus

That's moronic. Obviously corporations already have behavioral and treatment standards of laborers. Regulations and practices are already entrenched and enforced to such a degree to make that dystopian what-if you try to paint an innane concern.
Put them to work how? Doing what? Most jobs require some sort of specialization these days, if only to look after the underlings.

Would you trust anything they produced past, say, license plates?

+Oztin Tayshus See? :)

Absolutely no actual connection to the subject matter in your remark but you'll stand by it because it's "cool". Such mindless tropes should be avoided, if only to strengthen one's mind and, in this case, position. 
The tougher the prisons, the tougher the criminals. 

I think Bastoy (Norway) is the most successful prison in the world at this moment. 

In an open prison environment (or: In a prison environment where prisoners are humans, treated humane etc) recidivism is way lower. 

65-72 percent of Norways prisoners goes back to their old habits. For Bastoy this is 29 percent. 

Trailer Bastøy (Michel Kapteijns, 2010)
So long as they benefit in some way - spending money or money for their families.
Prison is a way to keep dangerous people away from general society and hopefully to reeducate them. not just a punishment or revenge.
Is it true that in the US someone once in prison (declared as crininal) looses his active and passive right to vote forever? Is this the case there is an increasing number of inhabitants that are not allowed to be part of their own future!
It's an easy horror to get away with given how simple most people find it to write off someone's right to have a worthwhile existence after they've committed a crime. A criminal is viewed as less than human in general, and not deserving of compassion or care. Of course, this tendency creates worse criminals (when hardened by a hard environment they aren't likely to become more loving individuals) and more of them (in a world where we practise dehumanising it's easier to justify hurting or stealing from others).
How about using inmates, with life or death sentences, to build space stations or habitats on the moon or Mars? If I had the choice of a concrete tomb or pioneering space exploration, I would pick space.
Maybe offer them a sponsorship deal?
Am liking Richard Branson more and more! He is getting dyslexically dangerous and disruptive to the status quo!

There still is hope for the guy!

And even Civilization.

david dawneway
The states have always used prioners for jobs to teach them skills they can use after they are released and to take care of some of the expenses of housing and feeding them,  Is it a good idea to make them private NO!!!! Should someone that commits a moral crime from a puritanical law serve in federal prison NO!!!
good explanetion i think this word will chang the mind of american government.
There was actually some private prison company that offered to buy all of the remaining state prisons from their respective states.  The only catch?  The states had to sign a contract promising to keep the prisons at 90%+ capacity so the company could keep it's profit margins up.  

This is also one of the major reasons why drugs remain illegal in America.  No one wants to try to put a bunch of hardened criminals to work in factories.  But non-violent, drug-related offenders?  Perfect "slave-wage" employees.
America is the centre of Capitalism, the American Dream and many other money related household words. Surely this is just another step in reassuring the wider world that there is money to be made in anything and that America is trying to get some money to try and still remain powerful and wealthy as China and India speed along towards the top.
No. No-one should be exploited for financial gain. this already happens in prisons throughout the Uk.
i accept that those in prison must be there for punishment and as a deterent for others but the prison service and indeed the whole English judiciary has become burdened with budgets at the expense of rehabilitation and justice..with the highest prisoner rates in europe and a huge number reoffending..... the system does not work. making it profitable has no baring on whether crime rates will be reduced or even impacted upon. this should be the focus.
change needs to happen in relation to how we view offenders and how we as an educated and moral society deal with them. simply locking people up, exploiting them financially and then releasing them back into society with no rehabilitation, no support and now a criminal record to hinder their future opportunities, is hardly the recipe for a more understanding and harmonious society! 
the notion that states has been turning out skilled ex offenders is a falasy unless counting toothpicks going into a pot or punching numberplates is classed as a skill. it is only recently that all modern societies  are starting to look at their penal systems and trying new ways to address offending and its related costs.
train, educate and inform those in prison, provide opportunities for release, provide a real after care system. this will reduce numbers and in turn budgets. of course make provisions for victim support and an increase in victim compensation payments (from prisoners earning a basic wage in prison and post release).
increase community orders (community service for minor offences), have minimum terms for imprisonment to enable rehabilitation programmes(serving 4 weeks serves as a short sharp shock, costs a fortune and serves no other purpose what so ever.)
should prisoners be used as cash cows? America's doing it!
theres quite a few other areas where the americans also do quite well in relation to their penal system: death numbers in custody, gang violence, racial divides and rapes in custody,
i agree that more private companies need to look into working with prisoners but paying a prisoner £10 per week to do a job that would demand an hourly rate of £30 will not work unless the prisoner is being trained in a specific skill that is usable upon release. these pay rates could refer to training period but once qualified.......minimum wage (taxed of course!) a percentage to victims chartrer, percentage allowed to spend, percentage in savings account, percentage to the establishment.
work with don't use
There's punishment, there's separation from society and there's rehabilitation, which sadly, 'til now, no prison service on earth seems to have achieved.
How many prisoners do you reckon there are on earth at this time? What if they could all be rehabilitated and turned into tax-payers?
Depressing to see the number of people on this thread that don't get the point. Having people work in prison is a good thing. Having someone else profit from that work is a bad thing. There will be people that get sent to jail just so that they can become slave labor. There has already been a conviction for a judge that was sentencing kids to camps that were kicking money back to the judge.

Privatizing prisons is a very bad idea.
Privatisation doesn't come without regulations. Maybe they can do a better job than the government has 'til now. Rehabilitation is what is missing. If anyone can achieve that, I'd say, go for it.
Everyone is so hell-bent on punishment, they forget about rehabilitation.
You cannot punish a person and rehabilitate them at the same time.
There is all of people you just cant rehabilitate it is a mental illness caused by Democracy there is no cure.And it not just the prisoners its are leaders too who have this mental illness my friends     
Fair enough Bryan, there are people who are beyond help. Rehabilitation comes from within the person, it cannot be forced in from outside a person. In order to achieve that, prison needs to be, well, a better place.
Treat a man with respect for one thing, and see what happens. Only let him out for so long in a day but let him choose the time.... there are a lot of things missing in the modern prison.
Yup i believe we are on the path to a better solution.thanks to people like you Michael but it a hard path before we get there Its gonna be ugly 
I can't really change much myself Bryan, but I can put my ideas out there (as far as they may reach). I often watch prison docu's on TV and the guards always remind me of troops who have just been inserted into a dangerous area. The whole attitude needs to change. 
' In America, it’s profitable. It is perverse, de-humanising and devastating communities. If we want to do some good through privatisation, why not privatise rehabilitation with bonuses for successful reintegration of inmates who don’t re-offend? Then private sector creativity would be channeled to help rather than bleed society' Richard Branson

I think this is a wonderful idea.  From a European perspective it appears that America is beginning to become draconian in their application of the law.  Mr Branson  you did a really good job with with this.  Perhaps you can write against the death penalty next.  
Prison Gladiators + Nascar advertising = $$$
+Brendan Walsh I am all FOR privatization paying for rehabilitation (of course, you need to make the targets realizable, so the government should set up a control program of rehabilitation, and the private firms would be paid for the number of prisoners rehabilitated HIGHER than the government program (of course, I would expect a result similar to private/public schools, but I would LOVE to be proven wrong!
The corporations are unlikely to ever turn a profit
+Shon Prabaharan While America is the centre of Capitalism (and will remain so as long as the competition doesn't play by the rule of law and allow open and free exchange of information, allowing us to always outthink and top-down led society), I don't really think you have a handle on the American Dream. 

Of course, I don't blame you. Our Leftist media doesn't understand it, either, and so, it's difficult to understand, even for their domestic audience.

The American Dream is that one will be allowed, by a limited government, to either work as a wage slave, or develop an idea sufficient to make enough of a profit that one might save enough money so that one's children can live a life with greater possibiliites than one did himself.

My great grandfather sued the government to allow his daughters to attend high school (it was against the law at that time to teach black children to read). My grandfather served in the US Army (segregated usnits) in World War I. My mother set up a hair dressing salon in the basement of her mother's home while my dad did handiman's work. I was the first one in my family to attend and graduate college; I worked with and sold computers. Today, my son is a programmer with a large Silicon Valley firm. Maybe he'll be the first in his family to have a net worth of a million; maybe he won't, but my family, up through him, are living and have lived, the American Dream.
If you look at the numbers you can't really say they are making money... They have a severe amount of cuts that need to be made in the industry before prisoners will even be able to pay for their own cost
Whether they make money or not is irrelevant. Can they turn out rehabilitated ex-offenders is the beeeeeg question.
I agree however I dont like how people are acting like the prisons treat prisoners like slaves
yeah  yeah  but  lets  face it  a  lot  of  people  need  to be  locked  up,  america  is  not  the uk,  uk  mindset  never  leaves  you, america  on the  other  hand  is  a  one  of,  would   it  be  better  to  pack  them off  to    lets  say  chernoble  on  virgin  air   o/w ?  this  is  a  sad  topic, sad   that   humanity   sinks  to   this  level, its  not  so easy  peezy  to  rehabiltate child  molesters, sad  again  that slavery  is  allowed  to  raise  it's  ugly  head
rant  done
I think its essential for prison to make money to keep their security strong, however they should not make that money from their prisoners....They should profit from provided rehabilitation programs and health services and should perhaps even provide training services for other security organizations. As long as they get results and provide new beginnings for those who have lost their way and wound up in their prisons.  ... In the case of those criminals who cannot be rehabilitated new solutions need to be found... perhaps some research  facilities could also provide a revenue.
Really? I'd like to see a study on how many "rehabilitated" criminals re-offend within 1 year of release. Go to jail! Be cured of your criminal ways! And it's FREE! Again, really? I have to go to work to get a paycheck to put a roof over my head, pay for heat in the winter, buy a bed to sleep on, buy clothes to wear and laundry detergent to wash them with. I have to work to buy food to eat and pay my Dr and buy my medication. But if I commit a crime I can go to jail get all these things for free AND get rehabilitated? Sounds like a deal to me. People in jail SHOULD WORK to pay their way. I don't give a rats ass if they have to do it by moving rocks from one end of the yard to the other for 18 hours straight. If you don't like it tough. Don't do things to get you put in jail. Everyone in there made a conscious decision to do something that could land them behind bars. Oops, you got caught. Cry me a river. There are people in this country who have busted their asses AND obeyed the law that are losing their homes because of the shit economy. Why should criminals get a free ride for committing a crime?
And when you cant work due to health issues  where do you go then who provides that roof over your head who keeps you safe and sane - NO_ONE the economy is the problem and we do need to find another way to provide a decent world to live in - in the meantime structure is the only way to keep some sense of order in a mad world... prison structures keep us safe from those who cannot or will not play nice. Providing those structures in a way that gives people a second chance to create a better lifestyle is better than deciding they will stay broken forever and leaving them lying in the dirt.
It is profitable to the private prisons but not to the taxpayers, maybe we should fix our court system to better deal with the problems and start putting the lawyers on their leashes.
Richard I am sorry but I have to disagree with you on this one.

Prison should be feared and not a tax burden club med ... I am not justifying abuse but in western society prison is nothing to be feared, with all the 'rights' people have it's a joke.

Michael James, why do you think there are so many repeat offenders?
There is no point sending anyone to prison unless he is going to be rehabilitated in the process. We want to reduce crime, not keep experiencing it.

The problem (mostly) doesn't lie in the individual, but in the failure of the system.
+Michael Bruin I tell you what, lets do away with all policing and the entire judicial system, that will 'rehabilitate' everyone without any form of consequences or punishment for criminal or anti-social behavior.

I used to work with ex-offenders and I do not know what planet you ;live on but 'the system' had very little if nothing to do with repeat offenders. The were just disrespectful, anti-social, career criminals individuals who were a threat to the public and should be locked up doing hard time not club med.

So spare me the bleeding heart speeches! I understand the offender and ex-offender better than most. Prison is a place you should fear not look forward to because it is easier inside than taking responsibility for your actions and living a respectable, honest life.
Of course we need policing... that's where I stopped reading. 
Ex SAP and ex SADF, so no, just want to see a better world.
Sorry, South African Police and South African Defence Force.
Ah, but see that doesn't make sense does it? Because all SAP were frothing mouthed racists who couldn't wait to kill the next innocent bystander. Well, friend, you are actually more hardcore than me... so thanks.
+Michael Bruin If you had of taken the time to read my profile you would have seen I am from Zimbabwe, so I would not have been making any leaps of accusation of racism.

However, my brother in law worked as a police inspector in Natal, Durban specifically, which I am sure you know is the most English of all the Provence and so I am very aware of the racist culture of the SAP police force and of the atrocities committed which were entirely race motivated. The 'Rhodesian' police force had the same issues. Which if you are honest you will admit you knew of cases which were nothing but racism.

Having said that, because of my brother-in-laws position I got to meet many excelllent SAP police officers. I hope you were one of them.
Michael James, So did I, but if he was an Inspector, that would have made him long after my time. We had Military ranks in the SAP. As you are from Zim, I can understand fully why you have a strong opinion about punishment.

I'm not talking about letting Mugabe walk free, I'm talking about the average (majority) offender.

(I never read the profiles of people before I respond)
Also, not to forget, how the SADF turned many insurgents around who fought gladly in 32 Bn e.t.c., by treating them decently.
Good ideal as long as prisoners don't get a profit nor the prison. That profit should only go to the community i.e. schools, parks, libraries, etc
in one mind there putting back what they've tacken out,yet there taking jobs that honest people need so i would say not unless its a reabiletation prossess priore to leaving
As a former Senior Probation Officer & Regional Quality Manager, I thought your idea was a good one, Richard. The only problem is that Ministers (or perhaps more accurately, the Permanent Secretaries who advise Ministers) have an irritating tendency to put sections of the criminal justice system out to tender, and despite the best efforts of both Probation and Prison Service management, they almost ALWAYS go for the cheapest option. And as we all know, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys! Kate, UK
IF YOU THINK THAT'S BAD - CHECK OUT HOW OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES NOT EVEN TRY TO GET OUR OWN MILITARY POWs.  Pakistan gets millions of dollars annually from Obama (our money).  An American Army Sergeant BOWE BERGDAHL, 26 OF IDAHO, CAPTURED ON JUNE 30, 2009, IS HIS NAME
Sir Richard, they beendoing this for many many years, well ove 100.  You think the next set of debates will be rough?  Well archive the founding father of this country, go back to Adams and that era, Brutal!
It is so very sad, that our country will not invest in fixing up it's people.  It will only invest in locking up young Americans for profit.  I am only speaking for non-violent crimes.  Many prisons are full of drug and alcohol abusers.  Sad when they get out, they are most likely to go back because of our system.  Rotating doors, no hope for them when they are released, so they just go back.  :( 
EJ Hill
We should implement RESTITUTION, whereby the victims get some form of compensation for the damages they incurred. The current system only serves to victimize the victims even further with additional legal costs, without any form of restitution. You stole R100 000, you have to work in jail, until that debt has been repaid. The particulars can be worked out by the legal system.
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