This past Sunday marked Correction Corporation of America’s 30th birthday, making this article about as timely as a CCA guard feeding a diabetic inmate.
Let me tell you a little story.
In 1905, the state of Mississippi launched an experiment in crime prevention. The program was referred to as the convict lease system. Private companies could lease prison labor at a huge discount over paying traditional workers. That year, the state added 185,000 dollars to their coffers. The lessees were responsible for any and all manner of care for the inmates they rented. So, it can be plainly seen that the inmates received inadequate food, clothing and medical care. And those were the lucky ones.
The facility that this system was implemented in was called Parchman Farm. Inmates that weren’t working at outside locations were bade to work the prison farm. The farm supplied food for these inmates, but what wasn’t used by them could be sold on the free market. Since production costs were significantly lower than the competition, profits were high. Another boon to Mississippi. Of course, in order to enjoy those high profits, it would be necessary to curtail how much of the product was consumed by the men who actually grew it.
The prison for profit idea paved the way for entrapment and a high rate of convictions for minor offenses, starvation, abuse of prisoners and violence amongst inmates, as rivals competed for basics like food and medical attention. And since the farm was built in the Jim Crow South, the inmates of the segregated system were Black.
Now here’s where things got interesting. Paying guards really cut into this wonderful bottom line. So it was decided that White inmates from other institutions could be exploited by making them the guards. The term applied to these inmate guards was “Trustee.” Now these White trustees were hard men. They were all serving life sentences for violent crimes, themselves. It was thought that Lifers would make the best trustees, because they had the most to gain and were therefore likely not to object to the work. What happened in fact, was that these inmates considered the work offensive and took out their resentment on their charges.
So you take a bunch of White men – violent criminals themselves – and you put them in charge of Black men in the segregated South Add to that volatile mix, a profit motive, as well as bitter resentment, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Until its closing and reorganization in the 1980s, Parchman was a notorious pit of abuse, torture, violence, starvation and death. The mortality rate was so high that inmates were actually buried in mass graves. Investigators to this day are still digging up corpses of Parchman Farm inmates.
It is for this reason, that I will never sanction the concept of private prison corporations. Whenever a profit is created by the suffering of our burgeoning criminal class there is no incentive to alleviate that suffering or shrink the size of that social group. In short, prison for profit not only feeds a system of abuse, but it does nothing to prevent crime. On the contrary, it gives birth to it.
BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.
- The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery? (globalresearch.ca)
- Deaf CCA Inmate Sues DC for Mistreatment (deafinprison.wordpress.com)
- Fourth Hays Prison inmate slain (timesfreepress.com)
- Founded 30 years ago today, Corrections Corp of America now houses more prisoners than the states of NY and NJ combined (aclu.org)
- Republican Privatization Schemes in Action: Subhuman Prison Conditions (crooksandliars.com)
- Unless They Want Dangerous and Disgusting Prisons, States Should Run Screaming From the Corrections Corporation of America (prisonpork.wordpress.com)
- Happy Birthday to the Corrections Corporation of America? Thirty Years of Banking on Bondage Leaves Little to Celebrate (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- Deaf CCA Inmate Sues DC for Mistreatment (prisonpork.wordpress.com)
- Lake Erie Correctional Institution, Ohio Private Prison, Faces Concerns About ‘Unacceptable’ Conditions (huffingtonpost.com)
- Idaho State Police investigating private prison (oregonlive.com)