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July 13, 2020

"Abolishing Private Prisons: A Constitutional and Moral Imperative"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper authored by andré douglas pond cummings and Robert Craig available via SSRN. Here is part of the paper's abstract:

President Richard Nixon declared a “War on Drugs” in 1971. President Ronald Reagan federalized and militarized this “war” in the 1980s.  Shortly after the War on Drugs was declared, federalized, and militarized, a private for-profit company in Tennessee sprang up calling itself the Corrections Corporations of America (CCA).  The creation of this private prison corporation ushered in a new carceral era where the traditional government function of adjudicating crime, punishment, and imprisonment became intertwined with the corporate governance principles and goals of profit maximization for shareholders; executive compensation based on profits and share price; forward-looking statements forecasting more robust prison populations; and increased profit levels built almost solely on human misery and degradation....

Private prison executives and lobbyists seek to increase privatization of the industry by promising that their prisons are run more efficiently at lower costs, with greater safety records, improved facilities, and with greater outcomes for prisoners.  However, studies and reports now show that these declarations by private prison executives and lobbyists are deceitful.  Private prisons are increasingly being shown to cost contracting governments’ more, not less, are less safe, and less economical.  The exchange of taxpayer funds from governments and municipalities into the hands of corporate shareholders and executives is nothing more than an unabashed transfer of taxpayer monies into the personal accounts of those with a stake in private prisons — which are being shown to provide no real benefit in return.  Private incarceration makes no sense morally, and it is increasingly apparent that the industry makes no sense economically and, in fact, is likely unconstitutional....

This article will show: first, that mixing profit with the core governmental function of incarceration leads to damaging consequences for prisoners, employees (of both private and public prisons), and the public at large while benefiting a small group of executives and shareholders; second, that the implementation of for-profit incarceration in the United States hampers access to justice, particularly for already marginalized groups; and third, that the serious constitutional concerns noted by Professor Robbins have been borne out, and they now deserve consideration by the United States Supreme Court.

July 13, 2020 at 06:50 PM | Permalink


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