Writing the Wrongs of The Prison System


Gabriel Moreno For Martin Luther King Day, speaker Shaka Senghor came in to talk to the Latin community. He briefly mentioned several topics but moved on from them due to his time limit. Here is just one of them, regarding the way that private prisons run and operate: Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) is a corporation that profits off of prisons. CCA was created when state and federal prisons were overcrowded, and corporate America pounced at this opportunity to make money, offering to take over prisons. In 2016 alone, CCA took in $1.7 billion by profiting off of prisons. The CCA makes money based on how full the prison is—in fact, states sometimes are required to pay the CCA if the state does not supply enough criminals to keep the prisons packed. For example, the Arizona Republic, a for-profit prison, received $3 million because the State Government did not incarcerate enough people to keep the prison at its required 97% full. Since State governments can lose money by letting people out of prison, they are more likely to keep people in as long as they can. The School of Business at the University of Wisconsin found in a study that private prisons give out twice as many infractions than non-private prisons. This pattern has serious consequences since, if prisoners get enough infractions, their sentences can be lengthened, which in turn keeps the prison even more full. A main way that private prisons can meet their quota and stay teeming full is by incarcerating drug users. Based on the Federal Bureau of Prisons, in 2016, 82,415 people were imprisoned because of drug offences, accounting for 46% of all incarcerations nationwide. A lot of these incarcerations are because of people using drugs. Going to prison does not always help people stop abusing them, however, since drugs can be smuggled into prisons and few offer proper rehabilitation and counseling services. The solution for getting people off of drugs should not be to incarcerate them, but to offer different rehab centers to be available that help with coping with addiction. Prison time is not an effective way to deal with addiction. Shaka’s story was inspiring to us here at Latin, but unfortunately, the problems he discussed are such big ones, he was only able to touch on those bigger underlying issues. For more information on the problems with the American prison system and mass incarceration, particularly concerning the African American community, check out Netflix’s documentary 13th.]]>