- George Zoley, Chief Executive Officer of GEO Group, heads one of America’s largest for-profit prison firms providing services to states and the federal government.
- The revenue last year was $4.5 billion and 86% of this money came out of the pockets of taxpayers.
- This Greek “super warden” makes the big bucks, $35 million a year, by running a company with cost-cutting strategies leading to a vicious cycle where lower wages and benefits for workers, high employee turnover, insufficient training, and under-staffing results in poor oversight and mistreatment of detained persons, increased violence, and riots.
Straight white men control the American prison system. All of them were members of elitist college fraternities.
While we know many things in the United States are messed up, one of the lesser known problems is the prison system. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world; currently, the country has around 2-3 million prisoners and 22% of the world’s prison population.
Mass incarceration didn’t happen overnight. It has been systematically in effect since the early 70’s with the launch of the war on drugs. The war on drugs criminalized people for possessing, selling and using drugs of any sort, but in particular crack cocaine.
However while the war was labeled the war on drugs, it was truly a war on the poor black community. The community was targeted through convictions of crack cocaine, the “poor man’s version” of powder cocaine. Police began intensive drug searches and drug busts collecting victims in every neighborhood, particularly black men. They were locked away, the minimum sentence being 5 years; however, many people received many more years due to racist judges and juries. As years went on prisons filled up at alarming rates, but not for crimes many of us believe. The people filling dirty windowless cells were in for petty crimes, not murder, rape, and fraud.
- While the racist war on drugs put undeserving people in prison, laws created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are keeping the guilty out of prison. ALEC is a privatized club that creates laws that benefit the Republican party, Republicans then enact these laws, allowing corporations to play a role in politics.
- One of the most controversial laws created by ALEC was the stand your ground law, the law that kept George Zimmerman out of prison after he murdered Trayvon Martin.
- This makes it so in our country the land of the free, easier to be rich, white and guilty, rather than poor, a minority, and innocent. In addition to the laws set in place, it is easier to take a guilty plea when you are innocent because the time in prison is lower than to ask for a trial, they punish people for challenging an unjust system by giving them 15 years instead of the already damaging 3.
Inside the prisons is a whole other story, prisoners are beaten, put in solitary confinement, given food infested with maggots, denied a livable caloric intake, denied basic rights, and rehabilitation. In addition to the physical health and abuse prisoners face, their mental health is severely affected. Prisoners do not have access to proper mental health care and counseling which leads to violence, mental health disorders, and the increased possibility of them committing additional crimes in the future. Deaf prisoners are suffering more so than the hearing prisoner, they are unable to use their language, American Sign Language because guards often confuse it with gang signs.
They are a limited population meaning they often have no one to communicate within the prison, communication with their families is limited because most facilities do not have TTY leaving them with no form of communication. This leads to extreme mental health problems, and a number of rights violated. Our prisoners are part of a hidden slave labor market. Many companies have turned to using the inhumane free labor of prisoners to produce their products, these products range from potatoes to jeans. Many people in the U.S. criticize the inhumane conditions and unfair wages sweatshop workers experience in other countries, but when it is in our own country no one bats an eye. Life after prison isn’t a free world, prisoners are unable to vote, get/hold jobs, apply for food stamps, buy a house or an apartment, and so much more. They are denied citizenship in America, making their quality of life extremely low, and their human and civil rights violated.