Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jailing Kids for Cash

I couldn't believe the title of this post and, upon reading it, my head is still swimming. Amy Goodman reports in, Jailing Kids for Cash, that two Pennsylvania judges received kick-backs from builders and operators of private jails for sentencing children to their facilities. She writes:

As many as 5,000 children in Pennsylvania have been found guilty, and up to 2,000 of them jailed, by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities that benefited. The two judges pleaded guilty in a stunning case of greed and corruption that is still unfolding. Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan received $2.6 million in kickbacks while imprisoning children who often had no access to a lawyer. The case offers an extraordinary glimpse into the shameful private prison industry that is flourishing in the United States.

The future of facilities like these is poised to explode with new inmates and the downturn of our economy. She continues,

According to The Sentencing Project, “the United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.1 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails—a 500 percent increase over the past thirty years.” The Wall Street Journal reports that “[p]rison companies are preparing for a wave of new business as the economic downturn makes it increasingly difficult for federal and state government officials to build and operate their own jails.” For-profit prison companies like the Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut) are positioned for increased profits.

Profits for jailing kids. What kind of Taliban-like society have we turned into?

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