The main reason for this continued nonsense is that the prison lobby doesn't want drugs legal as they stand to lose a fortune. And with private prisons all the rage, they have a financial reason for keeping the status quo, and helps screw the populace in the process. Around 130,000 people are in private prisons run as a for profit company and that number is increasing as cash strapped states are looking to foist their prisons off their books and into private companies. The two largest prison companies pull in $3 billion each year and now has one of the largest lobbying organizations. These groups are actively looking for legislation that will out even MORE people in jail and are responsible for "three strikes" and "truth in sentencing " laws that have both driven up incarceration and profits.
Prior to 1980 there were no private prisons. Since then, and the ill advised War on Drugs, population has exploded behind bars, to the tune of 1600%, or 4 times what we saw between 1980 and 2007. Violent crime has been falling, except in some major cities, so the only reason we are seeing this increase is due to drug laws. These people are creating a criminal class that has no hope, no future. This is inevitably a disaster waiting to happen. This is from Investment Watch:
Last year the Corrections Corporation of America(CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, received $74 million of taxpayers’ money to run immigration detention centers. Their largest facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, receives $200 a night for each of the 2,000 detainees it holds, and rakes in yearly profits between $35 million and $50 million.
Prisoners held in this remote facility depend on the prison’s phones to communicate with their lawyers and loved ones. Exploiting inmates’ need, CCA charges detainees here $5 per minute to make phone calls. Yet the prison only pays inmates who work at the facility $1 a day. At that rate, it would take five days to pay for just one minute.
These prisons have found a way to exploit their population with slave labor, which is no better than outsourcing. We are not only competing against the Chinese paying their workers nothing but a huge prison population that can do call center work for a fraction of what they would pay you or me.
The following is from an article by Vicky Pelaez…
According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.
At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.
Many of these slave labor comes from juvenile detention centers, accounting for 50% of all centers now privately owned. This is also leading to massive corruption from judges caught sending people to prison for long sentences in exchange for kickbacks. Like this case below in PA:
Michael Conahan, a former jurist in Luzerne County, was sentenced on Friday to 210 months in custody by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik II. Conahan was also ordered to pay $874,000 in restitution. [...] As Main Justice reported in August, Ciavarella, former president judge of the Court of Common Pleas and former judge of the Juvenile Court for Luzerne County, was sentenced to 28 years in prison and ordered to make restitution of $965,930. [...]This is a serious problem than no one is worried about. You will be if you get set up to attend one of these private prisons. A few corrupt cops and judges and you could be locked away for a crime you didn't commit for a very long time. How will you feel then?
Conahan’s role in the “cash for kids” scheme was to order the closing of a county-run detention center, clearing the way for Ciavarella, once known as a strict “law and order” judge, to send young offenders to private facilities. This arrangement worked out well for Ciavarella and Conahan, as well as the builder of the facilities and a developer, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
The arrangement didn’t work out so well for the young offenders, some of them sent away for offenses that were little more than pranks and would have merited probation, or perhaps just scoldings, if the judges had tried to live up to their oaths.