My name is Mikael Khachatryan, and I am a Human Biology major (aspiring future health care practitioner). I like to spend a lot of my free time thinking about the major problems in the world and what can be done to about these issues. More specifically, I think about the issues starting at home, here in the United States. I like to live by the philosophy that if you do not spend your day trying to make someone else’s better, then what purpose what do you have? This is also partly why I joined the United States Army.
One major issue that has come up in our country is the idea of private prisons and if they should be abolished. What is the purpose of prisons? There are a few, some of which include separating non functioning members of our society (however that may be defined at a given moment), rehabilitating people that have committed crimes, and doing these things in a humane way. Within prison systems the death penalty itself is another highly controversial topic, with some of our states being split on the manner they perform this and if they even allow it. I am in favor of locking up seriously violent offenders, and I am in favor of prisons having methods and protocols to rehabilitate these members of society. I am not in favor these individuals, along with non-violent offenders, being taken advantage of and treated cruelly.
It is believed by many that private prisons are not conducive to the goal of bettering society and reforming people in the penitentiary system. When this process is handled by private businesses instead of state or federal government, it can be argued that financial incentives will create controversy. In some private prisons, most notably in the Southeast, there are prisoner labor wages that even third world countries would be taken aback by. Then these prisoners are expected to use their meager wages to purchase items from the commissary in the prison, which includes hiked up prices for simple food and hygiene items. This literally leaves an inmate with nothing, perpetuating the illegal smuggling and trading of goods that occurs in almost all prisons. With prisoners working, essentially for the prisons profits, where are the checks and balances for this kind of corruption. Furthermore, private prisons, due to financial reasons, are less motivated to provide proper correctional services to truly give these people a fighting chance if/when they are released. Also, the safety regulations and security levels of private prisons are thought to be lower than their governmental counterparts. If prisoners aren’t safe while they are being rehabilitated they are more likely to misbehave, join prison gangs for protection, and take matters into their own hands. Another huge issue with private prisons is the incentive to meet quotas of arrests and locking people up to fill the spaces that these prisons have contracted to the Justice Department. This can easily be seen by the fact that the United States, even though it comprises less than 5% of the world population, it houses over a fifth of the world’s inmates. I find that the country most associated with “freedom” is also the country with the highest amount of inmates, per capita, which is terrifying considering there are countries in tatters out there with much worse crime problems. As someone who wants to better fellow man or try to make our society a little better, there just seem to be too many problems associated with private prisons to allow them to continue. In better news, the Justice Department, has released statements in the past year about efforts to end contracts for private prisons.