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Prison Profits: The Exploitation of Human Capital
Transcript of Prison Profits: The Exploitation of Human Capital
"They don't want to see the prison system get smaller or number of people in custody reduced, even though the crime rate is down, because the good ole boys are all linked together in the punishment network, which is good for them financially and politically."
-Burk Foster, criminologist on the LA prison system
The Louisiana Scheme:
Louisiana currently holds the highest incarceration rate in the world. One of the primary reasons for this rate is
1/86 Louisianians is incarcerated
Almost 2/3 of inmates are non-violent offenders
Each inmate is worth between $24.39-$55/day
Thus, over time, the Louisiana prison system has become an annual multimillion dollar industry
Federal and tax dollars contribute to maintaining financial profits for prison networks and the actors (i.e., sheriffs) involved
Human Capital Trade?
State-run vs. local or sheriff-managed prisons
"I hate to make money off the back of some unfortunate person." -Sheriff Charles McDonald of Richland Parish
Privatization and Financial Benefits
Investing in Louisiana's prison system is a profitable cash-cow industry for private actors.
Lasalle Correctional Facility, a privately managed prison located in Olla, LA.
Do Financial Profits Equal Better Care for Prisoners?
Governor Bobby Jindal's Position
Supports privatization of jails and prisons
Jindal and supporters view privatization as a way to alleviate state dollars
House Bill 850 (2012):
A bill to privatize Avoyelles Correctional Facility, which would save the state close to $40 million (in 5 years) while channeling money to investors
Other Factors to Keep in Mind
Louisiana has the lowest per diem for inmates in the country; yet, benefits at the lower tiers of government (i.e., sheriffs, wardens) are high
Louisiana has the highest number of inmates in local prisons (20,866)
Recent Developments on Louisiana's For-profit prison system:
In 2014, Gov. Jindal vetoed a bill that included allocating more funds to rehabilitation services for prisoners. This was backed by many influential
Louisiana still leads the world in mass incarceration, which has been rapidly increasing for over a decade. Consequentially, head counts remain unusually high.
Recent reformative bills have focused on sentencing (2013-2014). While effective passage of these bills is beneficial for some prisoners, attention to the backlash of expanding the prison "market" has typically been neglected.
Thoughts/Opinions from the Presenter
Felecia V. Woolens
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Incarceration on the Cheap in Louisiana
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*Some local prisons are sheriff-managed*
High rates of prison profiting are especially burdensome on particular groups
The Politics of Incarceration: Prison Profits and the Quest for Head Counts