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October 19, 2011

"Billions Behind Bars: Inside America's Prison Industry"

Prison-Industry-Billions-Behind-Bars-IntroThe title of this post is the title of this new CNBC special, which was first broadcast last night (while I was watching another crime-and-punishment-free GOP debate).  The website for this program, which provides lots of video snippets, reports that there will be a rebroadcast at 8 pm this Friday, October 21.  Here is how the network describes this notable show:

With more than 2.3 million people locked up, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. One out of 100 American adults is behind bars — while a stunning one out of 32 is on probation, parole or in prison.  This reliance on mass incarceration has created a thriving prison economy.  The states and the federal government spend about $74 billion a year on corrections, and nearly 800,000 people work in the industry.

From some of the poorest towns in America to some of the wealthiest investment firms on Wall Street, CNBC’s Scott Cohn travels the country to go inside the big and controversial business of prisons.  We go inside private prisons and examine an Idaho facility nicknamed the “gladiator school” by inmates and former prison employees for its level of violence.  We look at one of the fastest growing sectors of the industry, immigration detention, and tell the story of what happens when a hard hit town in Montana accepts an enticing sales pitch from private prison developers.  In Colorado, we profile a little-known but profitable workforce behind bars, and discover that products created by prison labor have seeped into our everyday lives — even some of the food we eat.  We also meet a tough-talking judge in the law-and-order state of Texas who’s actually trying to keep felons out of prison and save taxpayer money, through an innovative and apparently successful program.

October 19, 2011 at 09:24 AM | Permalink


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This story highlights an interesting tension in both state and national budget debates. Reducing government budgets will necessarily involve laying off thousands of workers at a time of already high unemployment. A time when the private job market seems unable to absorb any influx of newly unemployed. It also creates rather unseemly lobbying efforts by some groups, such as prison unions lobbying against a crime bill, not based on policy but based on their future employment.

Posted by: Ala JD | Oct 19, 2011 11:24:14 AM

Ya missed the debate?! Too bad fer ya! My man Rick finally got some spit on the fire!!

A'm lookin' fer more next time when they bring their six-shooters. Then y'all will have a REAL debate winner, an' ya know who that'll be!

Posted by: Al Ammo | Oct 19, 2011 12:55:40 PM

Tonight was the first time I'd saw this program. Real informative. I have started a small group of people as of now. Hope to grow to bring awareness to the prison/jail overcrowing. It started because my son has been in prison twice and in jail too many times to count. He has been a drug addict for many years, which has caused bad choices. Since starting this group, I've found more people than I thought who really want help. They are tired of living this way. But due to expense of private rehab, feelings of no self worth, helplessness, they just continue to live the only way they know. I have asked for my son to be allowed ( at my expense ) to go to a long term drug rehab, probation , fines , drug testing on a regular basis. All have been denied. The DA wants to send him to prison for 20 years. He's currently in jail waiting trial. Our town is Tuscaloosa , Alabama. Our prison system is one of the top most crowded in the US. If possible to bring awareness to our state, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time. Linda Clifton.

Posted by: Linda Clifton | Jan 25, 2012 2:22:55 AM

I'm just a concerned mother.

Posted by: Linda Clifton | Jan 25, 2012 2:24:36 AM

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