The United States has the largest population of prisoners in the entire world. With the highest incarceration rate, citizens of the United States have a right to understand how the prison system works including its flaws. I was first interested in this topic when I began watching the show Orange is the New Black. I realized I do not really know much about the way prisons or the justice system works. As the show progresses it brings up issues such as abuse inside the prison, privatized prisons, budgets, jobs inside the prison, and drug trafficking inside the prison. With all these issues going on behind closed doors, how are the american people supposed to know if prisons are treating their prisoners fairly and giving them their best chance at rehabilitation. I think this deserves more attention because often times we forget prisons main priority should be rehabilitation for the prisoners that go inside.
In the article “First Step in Shutting Down Privatized Prisons,” the New York Times Editorial Board explains the recent push to shut down privatized prisons. A private prison is a for-profit prison in which individuals are physically confined or incarcerated by a third party that is contracted by a government agency.Recently, due to the decrease in prisoners, the government has been able to slowly decrease the number of private prisons. This is the first step to the process of shutting down these prisons. When privatized prisons first came about, they seemed necessary. This necessity came out of a rise in drug offenders and nowhere to house them. A long with solving the space problem, the prisons would be for profit. Due to their lack in care, funds, and functionality they have become a controversial topic. Often privatized prisons are used as a holding for illegal immigrants. Due to them trying to find the cheapest way to house inmates, the inmates often were in unsafe conditions. With the main focus of privatized prisons concerning money, there was no hope for rehabilitation once getting out of one. Most prisons made mass profits starting at 3.3 billion in 2014 and raising that by 1.9 billion in 2006. Those who viewed these prisons called them a “warehoused and forgotten.” As they continue to shut down the private prisons the prison system becomes vastly better, fixing one problem at a time.
In the article “Prisons are Not the Answer to the Immigration Problem,” the New York Times Editorial Board explains the need to end private prisons as soon as possible. If the decision is pushed around too much it will become under the control of the Trump or Hillary administration which could further postpone the end of private prisons. The article explains, there is no more evidence needed the prisons need to be put to rest. These prisons are used as holding cells for non-violent immigrants. These people are not a threat to security but are being held against their will as if they are. These prisons often include mothers, grandmothers, and even some children. It is no question that we need to change our immigration policy along with the way we run our prisons. Instead of being deported, about 68% of immigrants are held in these private prisons. Often these offenders have no previous charges or hold small misdemeanors. The Obama administration, although chanting to go after “felons, not families” and claiming there would be radical reform, has done nothing to help the immigrants trapped in these prisons. The article uses the example of Xochitl Hernandez, a grandmother who was imprisoned during an anti-gang operation. She had one misdemeanor for shoplifting and was placed on a 60,000 dollar bond. Another example discussed takes place at Berks County Residential Center, where 22 women were detained after arriving from central america. They have been hunger striking their detainment for months with no change.
The Problem of private prisons will not simply go away. We must look at the factors that allow prisons to run the way they do. Along with the factors that go into how individuals end up in prison. So far it seems immigration, race, and your social status can have an effect on how you will be serving time. I would like to further understand why they began the private prisons, did it have something to do with the war on drugs? What made the rise in drug offenders? Were people profiled differently? And I would also like to look into further why they are mainly holding immigrants. Why allow non-violent offenders to be treated so horribly? Is this how america would treat their refugees? Why, if they are just screening for health problems are they permanently keeping these immigrants here? And why are they not just deporting them? I am excited to explore this topic further and understand the entire story surrounding private prisons from the beginning and as we watch them (hopefully) come to an end.