Saturday, March 07, 2009

The dangers of private enterprise in the prison system

When I first wrote about the Pennsylvania juvenile justice scandal I mentioned the Norwegian criminologist Nils Christe and his warning about the danger of involving private companies in the prison system.

Writing for AlterNet, Donald Cohen shows how right he was:

The Prison industry also flexes its growing political muscle to increase the number of people sent to - and kept in - prison.

Lobbying dollars and campaign contributions are used to push "tougher" laws such as "three strikes", mandatory minimum sentencing, and "truth in sentencing" - all of which increase the duration of sentences.

And they support conservative think tanks such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to be the "independent" voice advocating tougher sentencing policies throughout the United States.

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