Prison Incorporated

We have no desire to earn online paralegal degrees … so the website www.online-paralegal-degree.org would seem to hold very little interest for us. Well … except for the fact this site has posted an amazing infographic this week entitled “Prison, Inc. – The Secret Industry” highlighting how our nation’s correctional…

We have no desire to earn online paralegal degrees … so the website www.online-paralegal-degree.org would seem to hold very little interest for us.

Well … except for the fact this site has posted an amazing infographic this week entitled “Prison, Inc. – The Secret Industry” highlighting how our nation’s correctional system has become yet another victim of crony capitalism.

According to the infographic, 2.3 million Americans live behind bars – costing this country’s taxpayers $55 billion annually.  Of course the real story isn’t the cost to taxpayers, it’s how “privatized” prisons have become quota-driven sweatshops for major corporations like Starbucks, Boeing, Victoria’s Secret and McDonald’s – providing cheap labor (for as little as 93 cents a day).

Amazing …

First, let’s take a look at the graphic itself …

(Click to enlarge)

Private Prison Industry

Graphic: Online-Paralegal-Degree.org

Now, let’s discuss …

While this website is a consistent advocate for privatization of non-core government functions, we have consistently maintained that core government functions – i.e. cops, courts, roads, bridges and prisons, to name a few, should be owned and operated by the government.

Crap like this is why …

While we have no problem with the notion of private sector firms contracting the management of government-owned prisons (assuming such an arrangement provides value to the taxpayer), prison labor should never be used for anything other than the furtherance of core government functions – with these carefully supervised inmates receiving compensation commensurate with the prevailing private sector wage for similar tasks.

Anything beyond this reeks of corruption …

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venomachine January 24, 2014 at 9:45 am

Dude, this horse left the barn a few decades ago and you are JUST waking up to this? Even some of the news magazines covered this in the late nineties/early 2000s.

9" January 24, 2014 at 9:50 am

and if you didn’t catch it the 1st time

the usa may not be a police state,but we’re drifting that way


RogueElephant January 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm

How long has it been since you heard a cop referred to as a “peace officer’ ?

SCBlueWoman January 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

These guys got 28 years in prison, note the year it started. This is what happens when corps get paid by the filled bed: The “kids for cash” scandal unfolded in 2008 over judicial kickbacks at the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Two judges, President Judge Mark Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael Conahan, were accused of accepting money from Robert Mericle, builder of two private, for-profit juvenile facilities, in return for contracting with the facilities and imposing harsh sentences on juveniles brought before their courts to increase the number of inmates in the detention centers.[1][2] T

Jackie Chiles January 24, 2014 at 10:12 am

I thought the private sector could do everything better.

Yep January 24, 2014 at 10:23 am

Oh, they can. The only limitation to this would be someone’s imagination.

The current paradigm is a powerful thing. It’s very existence rules out the possibility of a better paradigm in the minds of most.

Yep January 24, 2014 at 10:23 am

edit: Its without the apostrophe

Good job Goldilocks January 24, 2014 at 10:25 am

One big point you miss Sic, the state is the biggest promoter of “victimless crime”, so it is the one causing this entire problem.

If we stuck to harm/property violations there would be no prisoners for crony capitalists to exploit because they’d be indentured to the people they actually harmed until they were made whole.

venomachine January 24, 2014 at 11:58 am

Wouldn’t help at all. 95% of the people who have ‘victimless crimes’ charges also have other property/harm crimes they are serving time for.

Good job Goldilocks January 24, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Sure it would, you separate the charges. You are completely wrong.

You don’t prosecute them for smoking a joint or doing heroin, you prosecute them for the property/harm and then have a private agency force their asses to work and repay their damages.(by giving the private agency a % of their restitution for payment)

venomachine January 24, 2014 at 2:04 pm

You have no clue what you’re talking about. Look on SCDC’s site and see how many folks you find in prison for only simple possession.

Good job Goldilocks January 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Send me the link! I will.

In a system of true justice, those convicted of property damage or harm they would be busy making restitution.

The state feeds the monster by throwing people in jail for drug use, victimless crimes, etc.

venomachine January 24, 2014 at 2:58 pm

See above

Good job Goldilocks January 24, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I replied.

Stinkbait January 24, 2014 at 11:01 am

I’m no advocate of incarceration-for-profit, either. It has, however, been a multi-bazillion dollar industry for 20 or so years & it is, indeed, rife with abuse & corruption. What has happened in Florida is the textbook example.

In the case of private industries contracting with states for facilities & inmate labor, there is another piece of the puzzle. There are manufacturing programs in SC facilities that select inmate workers based on aptitude & behavior, then train them for skill jobs that pay something approaching minimum wage. Among the benefits: inmates are kept productively occupied, pay for their room & board, pay child support & get families off welfare rolls, learn marketable skills, develop work ethics & have a meaningful nest egg when they’re released. I can’t imagine there being a down-side to any of that.

Manray January 24, 2014 at 11:06 am

I wonder how many of these prisoners are victims of the so-called Drug War?

Good job Goldilocks January 24, 2014 at 11:10 am


MashPotato January 24, 2014 at 11:37 am

At least 60%, perhaps as high as 85%

The Colonel January 25, 2014 at 2:57 am

Approximately 1.5 million of the 3 million prisoners in America are there for “drug related” charges based on 2008 data.

venomachine January 24, 2014 at 11:56 am

Here’s the deal though. What that statistic omits is OTHER crimes that were committed by the individual. So, a guy commits armed robbery, and when caught, has some rock on him. He’s charged for both crimes, and when convicted, does time for both crimes.

But, he goes down as ‘a victim of the so called drug war.’ When he is clearly not.

Now I’m for decriminalization of a lot of drugs, but this 60% of folks in prison are ‘victims of the drug war’ is pure bravo sierra. Even if you legalized it 95% of these clowns would still be doing time for violent crimes.

Good job Goldilocks January 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm

“Even if you legalized it 95% of these clowns would still be doing time for violent crimes.”

That’s the statistic I question right there. If you want to provide a link proving your statement, feel free.

venomachine January 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm

What number would you feel comfortable with? I think you are arguing minutiae.

Probably because deep down you’re thinking, ‘he’s right.’

Good job Goldilocks January 24, 2014 at 2:34 pm

No, I’m just looking for some proof of what you are saying.

venomachine January 24, 2014 at 2:57 pm

•A survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that 0.7% of all state inmates were behind bars for marijuana possession only (with many of them pleading down from more serious crimes).i


Good job Goldilocks January 24, 2014 at 3:24 pm


I just had a chance to go through your link, thank you for providing.

Here are the problems:

#1 (Large one) – The Study you reference is limited to Federal incarcerations only. Got that? It’s an EXTREMELY small sample size on the overall problem. The states are the ones using the drug laws to incarcerate tons of people more so than the Feds.

Here’s an example, as part of the study(From Oct. 08 to Sept 09) they list the total number of convictions(see page 23 on the link) for a sample rate average on FEDERAL prison sentences for drug possession: It’s only 851(with an average sentence of 7.2 years).


#2 Who’s talking about ‘just’ marijuana? Include them all. Heroin, Crack, etc. Then let’s throw in all the victimless crimes(the study conveniently breaks them down.

Notice that there seems to be an agenda here by looking at the 2nd bullet point on the page you link:

“In total, one tenth of one percent (0.1 percent) of all state prisoners were marijuana-possession offenders with no prior sentences.”

Now, does that mean anything to someone might think marijuana should be legal or smoking it a victimless crime? Even further, notice they now craftily shift to a state reference even though the study is based on Federal prosecutions.

That’s not good…

They do go on to say though:

” It is useful to look at all drug offenses for context. Among sentenced prisoners under state jurisdiction in 2008, 18% were sentenced for drug offenses”

So you can see that your “.7% of state inmates” is not only wildly wrong, but completely out of context.

venomachine January 27, 2014 at 9:41 am

Marijuana is what I feel comfortable legalizing. heroin and cocaine…no.

Rocky January 24, 2014 at 12:26 pm

What about the prisons for illegal aliens?

M326 January 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm

We don’t incarcerate illegal aliens. They are the ones doing all the work.

Thank you Jose'! January 24, 2014 at 6:46 pm

and paying into FICA, SS, etc. when not in cash jobs via false SS#’s and the gov’t likes that too because they know that if their charade holds up for a couple of more decades(doubtful) that they won’t have to pay them back

RogueElephant January 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm

What amazes me are the folks that whine and cry about the military industrial complex and never say a word about the prison industrial complex. corrupt politicians pass stupid laws, cops enforce the laws with “drug sweeps” (long after the big distributors are gone ) catching a bunch of young people to fill the jails for the taxpayers to pay the prison companies to keep warehoused for non violent crimes. And all of us “law and order ” conservatives are happy. Just another example of business as usual in the USA.

SC_Guy January 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

SC has a very active and productive prison industries department. Last I looked they were pressurizing tennis balls, making hardwood flooring, and making furniture that would later be sold by to the public. And this is not being done under some ACME Inc. name, they work for national manufacturers. The catch is they have to prove that the jobs were not taken from the public sector and that if PI didn’t do the work it would likely be performed overseas.

And don’t worry about the pay. Sure they could take pay but the state would deduct child support, restitution, room and board, etc. Instead they use their labor to help satisfy their sentence. If it hasn’t changed an inmate can get 2 days for each day served under good behavior. They can get 3 days for each served for good behavior and participation in PI.

The Colonel January 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Once again – cutting edge stuff here Will. The prison at I-20 and Farrow Road – Columbia Regional Care Center has been a private prison for 10 years.

Gregory Geddings January 25, 2014 at 6:15 am

This is one of the most thoughtful posts I have ever seen coming from Will. Si Kahn and Elizabeth Minnich authored a great book titled “Fox in the Henhouse.” I would recommend it to anybody interested in this issue.

shifty henry January 26, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Tell us about it…….

SC Is Fucked Up January 25, 2014 at 9:54 am

In the 1990s, South Carolina was locking people up for anything and most everything. Lots of stupid silly stuff. Like, for example, if you called your ex wife and got into an argument over the phone as to what time to pick up your children for visitation. She could call the cops, have you arrested for making an harassing phone call and off to jail and eventually prison you would go for as long as TEN YEARS! ….. This law was being abused so badly by women in domestic matters and SC’s biased judges, that the SC legislature was being bombarded with complaints. Finally, the statute was amended – and it no longer was deemed a felony – and punishment was changed from ten years to just 30 DAYS! …… So what about all the other people who had to serve YEARS in prison for this – and were forced to WORK as slaves in the prison industries that benefited BUSINESSES???

innate13 January 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm

I do believe that inmates should be paid for their work at least at some level approaching the minimum wage. Say something around $4 or 5 an hour, considering they don’t have to pay for food or rent etc.it is justifiable to have it lower than the minimum. This money should then be prioritized – contributed towards child support first (if applicable), 2nd towards restitution to their victim(s) if restitution was awarded at trial, 3rd towards an account for the inmate that will be his/her money when they are released. If you release an inmate back into society and he/she is broke, he/she is much more likely to commit further criminal acts vs. if they have some money when they are released. (Sure, some of them will go blow on drugs and booze – but at least for a time they won’t be stealing or robbing to do so).


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