Is Prison a Business?

The United States of America makes up roughly five percent of the world’s population, yet shockingly, twenty five percent of those incarcerated in the world are in American institutions. Even if you failed every math class you’ve ever been in throughout high school, those numbers don’t add up. Undoubtedly, America has notable crime. Nevertheless, a quarter of the world’s prisoners in a country with only five percent of the world’s population makes no sense. There are many factors contributing to this bizarre statistic, but the one that stands out may create some anger in those who don’t already know.

Simply put, in America there is money to be made from incarcerating people. Federally funded correctional facilities have existed since the 1980’s; however, more and more prisons have become privatized. What this means is that a corporation can build, or purchase a prison and that prison creates a profit for the owners. What’s disturbing about this development is the way it works. Inmates are seen as capital rather than human beings. Instead of a desire for fewer criminals, the people who own private prisons want more. When one of these institutions has a higher population of inmates, its stock actually goes up. The issue with this scenario is that when a higher population of inmates creates higher profits; then basically, crime pays.

Consequently, when prisons equal profit why would anybody making money want crime to stop?

Since the introduction of private prisons there has been a steady incline in the prison population. Nearly every correctional facility in the country is far beyond maximum capacity. With this system in place that creates cash out of criminals, there’s no real desire to lower crime rates. Furthermore, when non-violent drug offenders make up more than fifty percent of incarcerations, something is seriously wrong.

What it comes down to is right and wrong.

There are some things that just shouldn’t be evaluated from a business standpoint. When somebody is sent to prison it tears families apart, creates resentment, and a lot of times creates more criminals.

We must ask ourselves if making money from prisons is truly something that should be a part of American society, or do we want fewer prisons, and fewer criminals?

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