During last night’s presidential debates, Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton had called for the end of privatizing the prison system. This follows a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to stop using private prisons. In addition, there have been many activists who have taken a stand against private prison companies.
Why such an outcry against private prisons? According to a recent investigation by the DOL, it found that several incidents of safety and security violations in for-profit prisons than at a government-run facility. In addition, there were higher rates of assault and sexual misconduct at these prisons. For-profit prisons are also a burden for the taxpayer; the DOL investigation revealed that taxpayer dollars were being used in ways that were either “unallowable or unsupported” by their contracts.
In a recent NPR interview, Nation investigative report Seth Freed Wessler said when he investigated for-profit prisons, he found not only filled to the brim with prisoners, but were under-staffed for such a volume of prisoners. These conditions have led to deaths of inmates. For instance, Wessler discovered that many prisoners were sick with treatable illnesses yet were not receiving the medical attention needed. This led to illnesses getting worse and worse until the prisoners had died.
This isn’t the first time the U.S. had tried and failed to privatize prisons. In the 1800s, many states relied on private companies to handle the prison system. However, for-profit prisons quickly took advantage of the situation and prisons throughout the country were known for their brutality and incompetence.
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