War on Drugs (The Prison Industrial Complex) & NOW on PBS 419 Prisons for Profit

"***The first few minutes are in dutch, but the rest is in english.

The war on drugs has been going on for more than three decades. Today, nearly 500,000 Americans are imprisoned on drug charges. In 1980 the number was 50,000. Last year $40 billion in taxpayer dollars were spent in fighting the war on drugs. As a result of the incarceration obsession, the United States operates the largest prison system on the planet, and the U.S. nonviolent prisoner population is larger than the combined populations of Wyoming and Alaska. Try to imagine the Drug Enforcement Administration erecting razor wire barricades around two states to control crime and you'll get the picture. According to the U.S. Dept of Justice, the number of offenders under age 18 imprisoned for drug offenses increased twelvefold from 1985 to 1997. The group most affected by this propensity for incarceration is African-Americans. From 1985 to 1997, the percentage of African-American young people put in prison increased from 53 to 62 percent. Today, 89 percent of police departments have paramilitary units, and 46 percent have been trained by active duty armed forces. The most common use of paramilitary units is serving drug-related search warrants, which usually involve no-knock entries into private homes"

"Corporations are running many Americans prisons, but will they put profits before prisoners? A grim new statistic: One in every hundred Americans is now locked behind bars. As the prison population grows faster than the government can build prisons, private companies see an opportunity for profit. This week, NOW on PBS investigates the government's trend to outsource prisons and prisoners to the private sector. Critics accuse private prisons of standing in the way of sentencing reform and sacrificing public safety to maximize profits. "The notion that a corporation making a profit off this practice is more important to us than public safety or the human rights of prisoners is outrageous," Judy Greene, a criminal policy analyst, tells NOW on PBS. Companies like Corrections Corporation of America say they're doing their part to solve the problem of inmate overflow and a shortage of beds without sacrificing safety. "You don't cut corners to where it's going to be a safety, security or health issue," Richard Smelser, warden of the Crowley Correctional Facility in Colorado tells NOW. The prison is run by Corrections Corporation, which had revenues of over $1.4 billion last year. The Crowley prison made headlines back in 2004 after a major prison riot caused overwhelmed staff to run away from the facility. Outside law enforcement had to come in to put down the uprising. "The problems that were identified in the wake of the riot are typical of the private prison industry and happen over and over again," Green tells NOW. More From NOW: Prisons for Profit | Immigrant Detainees: Profit Center? Reporter's Notebook: Inside a Private Prison | In Your State: Prison Costs | Feedback Forum | Transcript Related Reports Maximum Capacity Digging Out of Debt & Death Row Inmate Anthony Graves By the Numbers: America's Prisons Topic Search: Business, Law/Courts, Society This week NOW travels to Colorado, where the controversy over private prisons is boiling over. The hot question: should incarceration be incorporated?"

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