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Sunday, September 04, 2016

Making Profits on the Captive Prison Market - The New Yorker

"Earlier this year, I attended a prison trade show in Louisiana, which has the nation’s highest rate of incarceration. Cheery representatives from CrossBar, a Kentucky-based company, demonstrated the bendable electronic cigarettes that are sold in prison commissaries. I chatted with employees of Wallace International, which makes the automated front gates for jails. Sentinel, which makes ankle bracelets to track parolees, distributed slick handouts. A couple hundred more exhibitors were packed into a two-hundred-and-twenty-four-thousand-square-foot space in a New Orleans convention center, a space larger than three professional football fields, including the end zones. It was an education in the scale of the industry of profiting on America’s incarceration system.

A part of that industry was much discussed earlier this month, when the Department of Justice announced it would phase out its use of private prisons. Private prisons—both state and federal—represent just a small slice of the eighty billion dollars spent yearly on corrections, and they housed only about a hundred and thirty-one thousand inmates in 2014, compared with the 1.4 million inmates locked up in government-run facilities. But, because private prison companies routinely lobby Congress for lengthier prison sentences, the federal government’s announcement was seen as a modest victory for criminal-justice-reform advocates, whose long-term goal is to end mass incarceration.

Making Profits on the Captive Prison Market - The New Yorker

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