Private Prisons

Profit over Justice

Private Prisons

Money is the root of all evil. Many of us have been told this all of our lives. When money or financial stability is the drive for what you do, you will always find yourself in desperate places. I truly believe that everyone should be afforded the opportunity to change their lives. Unfortunately, those that find themselves within the justice system have an uphill climb to do it. Once you have a record, you are that for the rest of your life. Getting in trouble again is inevitable, and will happen again; it's simply a matter of time. The justice system has become an open market for entrepreneurs and private companies to make money from others' mistakes.

Being an entrepreneur is everywhere in our world, and has always been. It’s the drive to be successful and wealthy, as we are conditioned to believe that means a large bank account. An article in the Los Angeles Times reads with a headline: “Entrepreneurs see prisons as growth industry.” This article was from April 5, 1985. I cannot condemn the sense of entrepreneurship when I have the drive to be in control of my life as well. I do, however, condemn profiting at the detriment to another human being. This is where the evil is seeded in the money. When you start a business solely for the money that you can make from it, you are only trying to benefit yourself, and are more minded toward quantity over quality. I want to be a billionaire like the next guy, but I am not going to do it in a way that takes advantage of or burdens another person on the planet. I do not care what he or she has done in their life. Judgment is not mine to give. In the justice system, however, it seems like money is the grease that keeps the wheels turning.

We regulate the behaviors of society with the construct of law. You steal, this is what happens. You maim or murder someone, this is what happens. A simple enough outlook to ensure that behaviors are kept in line. Then I beg the question, why are the prison systems here so overcrowded? Why are crime rates higher here? Why do we have such a significant population in the penal system? Is it because this, like many others of society’s structures, have become all about the bottom line? The justice system is meant to be a way to reform the behavior of the individual, and prepare them to reenter society. As it stands today, it is simply a financial game that is played over and over with our citizens.

We all must live within the confines of the law, but most of us break the law on a daily basis. Sometimes as insignificantly as not wearing a seatbelt or speeding. These are easy things to be guilty of; you were in a hurry, so you forgot the seatbelt or were rushing to work. That’s life and it happens to everyone. This time you got caught not wearing your seatbelt and were pulled over. The police officer has the discretion to let you off with a warning or write a ticket. He, for whatever reason, decides that you will be cited and writes a ticket. Let’s say that life happens again, and you forgot that ticket. You never paid it or bothered to show up for the court date that was provided on that citation. Now, you will have a warrant out for your arrest. You, the stay at home mom with three kids. You, the single dad barely surviving paycheck to paycheck. You, the guy (girl) who just always forgets stuff, because he (she) is irresponsible. If you are lucky enough, you can somehow remember that ticket before you get stopped again, and quietly exit out of the justice system. If you do not remember and find yourself detained by a police officer again, you will go to jail. You will be placed in handcuffs and ducked into the back of a police car like every other criminal. If you have the financial means, then you can make bond and be released back into the world to sort all of this out. What most people don't know is there will be fines that you have to pay for your time spent in the jail, and possibly for your probation if that is your punishment. No matter what, justice will need its pound. All this was from a forgotten citation. A simple ticket that could have been paid, but because you had to be detained it will cost you a lot more than it was originally meant to. A punishment disproportionate to the crime, if you will.

Now the flip side of this is the people who are continually in trouble from breaking the law. Being incarcerated was supposed to reform the person, so that they would never break the law again. With the sense of financial responsibility, we simply cannot afford to equip jails and prisons like they truly need to be for efficacy. This is where for-profit gets exponentially more complicated. Think of it strictly as a business as you read the next words. You have a customer that comes in the door, uses your service, is dissatisfied with the service they received, and never pays. Normally, you would ban that customer. You may even see something posted around that he or she was not allowed here anymore. There isn't really an alternative for jail. Instead, the customer keeps returning, experiencing the exact same thing, and then leaves again. This is the situation most people find themselves in, because there is no reform or change in the environment in which they already live. The justice system has come down to working toward the bottom line instead of true reform. There are countless people in the world who are breaking the laws, showing no remorse, and staying in the exact same circumstances until they are laid to rest. This system is not working for any of the population.

Money is the root of all evil. I believe that no one should be put in a situation of desperation, but sometimes life happens to each of us that way. I want no part in our justice system as it stands now, because I do not believe that what is seen as justice truly is. People will always be a victim of circumstance until they take responsibility for their own actions, pay the price (which should be much more reasonable that it is), and correct their behaviors. The justice we so desperately seek isn’t being given.

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