Ethical Issues in Private Prisons
Private prisons are correctional facilities contracted to physically detain offenders on behalf of the state, and impose the sentence that the court has given on a suspect’s case. They are, therefore, institutions owned by third parties as opposed to the government. Concerns are growing as to whether these facilities are serving the right purpose or they are serving the private interests of the owners. Additionally, this form of business has no natural market conditions since no one voluntarily seeks conviction since inmates are detained by force and against their wishes. Private prisons violate the principles of humanity and the rights of people due to the fact that they are businesses owned by people who have the aim of making a profit as opposed to correcting the behavior of criminals. They therefore serve the interests of their proprietors as opposed to those of the state. Below are the reasons why all the private jails should be repossessed by the government.
Poor living conditions subjected to prisoners. Private jailers are entrepreneurs whose number one interest is to maximize profits in their business at the expense of the welfare of those people under their detention. In their bid to cut expenditure, they engage in innovativeness that reduces costs other than improving correctional services that are mandated to the prisons department. The authorities, therefore, underfeed prisoners as well as giving them substandard medical services and poor clothing for the winter season. Overcrowding in private prisons is evident whereby the prisons are admitting more prisoners than they can handle for their own commercial gains. This disregard of prisoner’s rights lowers the performance grade of these institutions, hence exposing their greed for money at the expense of convicts’ wellbeing. Private prisons are accused of understaffing and less training of guards and this is the reason that violence and prison escapes are more often in private prisons in comparison to government jails.
Detainees provide cheap labor for exploitation by the prison’s management. Military items like helmets, bulletproof vests, identification tags among others are fabricated by prisoners who are paid cents per working day for their hard labor, whereas the directors of their institutions sell the products at handsome prices. There are also instances whereby the correctional institutions lease the prisoners out to private firms for purposes of labor, and this is a source of profit to the prison authorities while they underpay the inmates for the work they do. This, therefore, depicts prisoners as slaves who are turned into cash cows by the jailers. Prisoners are also highly charged five dollars for a single phone call yet they are paid less than that amount in a day. This inhibits prisoners from contacting their attorneys as well as their family members and friends. A profit making institution that holds people against their wish is unacceptable because the owners use other people as slaves to work for them while they are not entitled to a share of the profit.
It is known that private prison spends a lot of money to woo politicians. By giving bribes, donations and funding campaigns, the institutions win political support that is necessary for their business to thrive. These bribes depict that the jailing business exists under dubious means other than legality. A genuine business will never have to offer pleasantries to politicians so as to gain political support, hence the act exposes the rotten side of private prisons. Private prisons are also accused of lobbying for increased sentences as well as creation of new crimes since their aim is to have as many prisoners as possible regardless of the crime in question.
The occupancy policy of these institutions elicits the suspicion by anyone with a sound mind. These prisons sign contracts with federal governments to fill a given bed capacity with prisoners in the institutions, with some agreements being 100% bed occupancy. If the government doesn’t fill the beds as agreed, then it is compelled to pay for the unoccupied beds, which leads to loss of taxpayer’s money. The bed capacity exposes the main goal of private prisons as profit gains as opposed to correction and rehabilitation of inmates. The aim of these institutions is to increase profits for their shareholders as opposed to serving the purpose for which they are meant.
In the United States of America, the level of prisoners is relatively higher than the crime rate. Despite reduction in crime, the number of prisoners is increasing, hence this proves that some people are jailed either for wrong reasons or innocence. The private prisons are alleged to have magnified the fight against drugs so that they can maintain large numbers of prisoners, despite the decrease in crime. Private jails are, therefore, full of drug addicts most of who are non-violent and have no criminal record, while traffickers of the same drugs have never been arrested. This case depicts the fact that the jails hold the wrong people since non-violent drug addicts are supposed to be in rehabilitation centers for correctional therapy other than being jailed.
The United States of America has a large percentage of prisoners in the world (25%) despite the fact that the United States is only 5% of the global population. Given that crime rate in the USA is not so high; the percentage of prisoners should, therefore, be commensurate to the total population as well as the crime rate level. The percentage of prisoners show that there must be innocent people in prisons or minor offenders whose mistake does not warrant imprisonment. This can be blamed on lobbying by the private prisons so that they can swell the number of detainees. Some private prisons are accused of paying judges to send large numbers of prisoners into their institutions, hence this account for the large percentage of prisoners. Reforming of prisoners is undesirable to private jailers because this means a decline in opportunities for profit making in the future since their aim is to continue holding large number of convicts.
Private prisons are also accused of detaining large numbers of mentally ill people. This confinement is a violation of the rights of these people to access mental care offered in psychiatric hospitals. A mentally challenged person does not warrant imprisonment hence the jailers depict themselves as oppressors of the disadvantaged people. The shift of the role of admitting these people from hospitals to jails has led to the closure of many psychiatric hospitals. This form of confinement is a threat to the American population because someone risks imprisonment in case of mental sickness, which is not defined anywhere as a crime.
Prisoners are also exposed to severe punishment in prisons. It has been noted that prison wardens brutally whip prisoners, hence violating their rights. Large numbers of prisoners in these institutions have been found to have traumatic injuries due to torture in the hands of unprofessional prison guards. The correction does not incorporate caning of the offenders hence the brutal whips that are administered to inmates to force them to work for long hours are against the spirit of rehabilitation of offenders and this amounts to torture. Caning only leads to bodily harm plus psychological disturbance hence it does not serve any purpose. Most private prisons also have weak rehabilitation programs and a few of them have education options for convicts.
An offer by Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison management company to buy government jails exposed the sinister motives by the entrepreneurs who are keen on minting money from jail business, at the expense of administering justice and rehabilitating convicts. The Corporation approached 48 governors with a proposal to buy their federal prisons, but on condition that they must maintain 90% bed capacity at all times regardless of the rate of crime. This exposed how the private prisons are lowering human life and its dignity by turning people into commodities of trade whereby they go chasing after them. Crime should be the criteria for jailing but not bed capacity hence private prisons are evil in nature.
In conclusion, private prisons are a disgrace to the human society because the directors benefit from suffering that prisoners go through. Prisoners are supposed to offer service to the government and to the public, but the service offered should not amount to torture or slavery. In addition, this business has promoted oppression of offenders through prolonged sentences as well as the jailing of people for invalid reason other than maintaining the bed capacity so that the government does not pay for the unoccupied beds. The business has also been a loophole for corruption in the judiciary whereby judges compromise justice by sending people to jail so that they can be paid by jailers. The above discussion proves why all private jails should be closed and all the inmates transferred to government prisons for justice to prevail. In addition, privatizing of many government functions will lead to the inability of the government to execute its functions hence the government will be weak. This therefore shows the need for the government to transfer all the prisoners from private jails and repossess all the prisons that had been sold to private proprietors. The constitution should also be amended to outlaw the private jail business so as to protect the rights of civilians and prisoners as well.