Target: The President of the United States
Goal: Federally ban private for-profit prisons in the United States
The American people cannot rely on private companies to uphold integrity and justice within the criminal justice system when the success of their business model depends on the expansion of the United States’ incarcerated population. A government-controlled prison system, on the other hand, is structured around the principles of public service. Since prison privatization took off in the early 1980s, incarceration rates have skyrocketed, disproportionately affecting people of color.
With only five percent of the world’s population, the United States provides twenty five percent of the global prison population, making its incarceration rate the highest in the world. Ideally, the criminal justice system is designed to protect citizens and create a more just and stable society. Though no one could argue that government-regulated systems are flawless or incorruptible, they still must answer to the common good and are not solely concerned with turning a profit.
Supporters of privatization will argue that the competitive, results-driven nature of the private sector creates a higher quality, more cost-efficient prison system. Unfortunately, prison privatization has failed to live up to its expectations over the past 30 years. The quality of life in private prisons is no better than in public prisons and the savings have been minimal and continue to dwindle.
Regardless of cost efficiency, there is a moral element to this debate that cannot be ignored. The private sector sells services or products that are in demand, allowing the free market to work naturally to create competition and quality services. Incarceration services, on the other hand, are utilized by the government to hold individual citizens against their will. Free market principles simply cannot be applied to the American prison system. Private companies have no incentive to create quality prisons because those that are directly affected – the prisoners themselves – are not exactly in the position to shop around for the best deal.
By signing this petition, you are telling the next President of the United States that we don’t need more incarcerated Americans. Put the criminal justice system back in the hands of the United States government, not under control of private companies who profit from higher levels of incarceration.
Dear Mr. President,
Over the past three decades, the privatization of the American prison system has failed to live up to its promises of better conditions for prisoners or the alleviation of taxpayer costs. American society will only suffer from a prison structure that depends on high levels of incarceration to increase private profits. The criminal justice system must remain exclusively under the jurisdiction of the American government, not within the profit-driven free market.
With the highest rate of incarceration in the world, the last thing the United States needs is private companies lobbying for measures that would only increase our prison population and inhibit rehabilitation. The self-serving principles that govern the private sector have no place in a government system that is designed to serve and protect the American public.
Prison privatization has not significantly improved state budgets or improved conditions for prisoners. If anything, it has done more harm than good by expanding our prison population unnecessarily. Please, end the prison-industrial complex that is damaging our country from within.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: alcatraz.cc