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The Prison Industrial Complex: A historical analysis of America’s incarceration habit Presented by: Katrina Bennett, Todd Brunkow, Stephanie Crabb, Celine.

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Presentation on theme: "The Prison Industrial Complex: A historical analysis of America’s incarceration habit Presented by: Katrina Bennett, Todd Brunkow, Stephanie Crabb, Celine."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Prison Industrial Complex: A historical analysis of America’s incarceration habit Presented by: Katrina Bennett, Todd Brunkow, Stephanie Crabb, Celine Geday, Niles Lienhart, Randi Middagh, Katy Zilverberg.

2 “The prison industrial complex is not only a set of interest groups and institutions. It is also state of mind. The lure of big money is corrupting the nation’s criminal justice system, replacing notions of public service with a drive for higher profits.” -Eric Schlosser

3 Prison Profiteering: The Business of Incarceration

4 History of Private Prisons Private prisons began in New York in the 1980’s as a result of overcrowding in the prisons, and a lack of taxpayer and government willingness to finance more prisons. Over the next few decades privatized prisons began appearing more and more frequently throughout the United States. BENEFITS: Inmate populations have been climbing steadily over the last few decades, but there is not enough funding in the states to house all the new inmates. Private prisons provide much needed relief for overcrowded prisons.

5 Costs of the Privatization of Prisons The privatization of prisons means that prisons are no longer just state- run services, privatization means that prisons are now a venue for an array of people and businesses to make money. Taking control away from the state and the change to prisons as a business have led to a number of issues including: Lack of laws within privatized prisons Illegal use of inmate labor Bed Brokers The transfer and unsafe transportation of prisoners Globalization of private prison companies

6 Impact on Other Businesses The business aspect of prisons goes beyond just the private prison companies. There are a number of newly developed and preexisting companies that are benefiting from the huge boom in inmate population and the demand for prisons. Entire companies have developed to manufacture goods and supply the prisons with everything from food to beds to security devices. Preexisting companies are also making money off the ever-growing prison system. Phone companies (like MCI), for example, make deals with prisons to provide them with their phone service. Inmates (who use pay phones more than any other group of people) are charged incredibly high rates, while a share of the profits is given to the prison. Both the prison and the phone company make money off of their monopoly on phone service for inmates.

7 By the Numbers There are currently over 2.1 Million people incarcerated in the United States, or approximately 724 per 100,000. Each year an additional 50-80,000 will be incarcerated It is predicted that by the year 2010, there will be 2.6 million people incarcerated.


9 Legislation Laws that have influenced the creation of the prison industrial complex

10 A few Facts The years of 1963-1972 saw the number of California inmates decline by more than a fourth. Congress voted in 1970 to do away with federal mandatory-minimum sentencing, then brought it back in the 1986 Anti Drug Abuse Act. Since 1991 the violent crime rate has declined by 20%, yet the prison population has increased by 50%. Both the Reagan and Bush administration’s have been strong supporters of private prisons.

11 3 strikes, you’re out Since it applied to all felonies across all classifications of crimes, drug offenders became a prime target. The law catches offenders of lesser crimes such as burglary, and possession of small amounts of illicit substances. The offender will receive 25-life, regardless of what the third offence was. Example of “3 Strikes, you’re out” effects: Chino’s Story



14 Legislation of the War on Drugs In 1973, Nelson Rockefeller (R, New York), demanded that “every illegal drug dealer be punished with a mandatory prison sentence of life without parole.” In 1981, republican president Ronald Reagan declared the “War on Drugs”. The number of drug offenders currently incarcerated in the state of California is double the number of inmates in 1978 who were incarcerated for ALL CRIMES. This increase in drug offenders in prisons have created a market for keeping the “War on Drugs” alive. Filling beds makes money for private prisons. The more inmates, the more money.

15 How do these laws affect The Prison- Industrial Complex? Due to the number of small time criminals behind bars, the prisons are overcrowding. This overcrowding means that more prisons must be built. Many states have turned to private prison companies such as Correction Corporation of America. In the 1990’s inmates from across the country were imported to private prisons which were outside of the state they had been incarcerated. Economic reasons may influence a politician’s attitude toward making or eliminating laws. This includes the current drug laws.

16 Coast to Coast: Examining New York and California, architects of the prison- industrial complex.

17 California Once praised liberal criminal-justice system of the past is presently the best example of inefficiency in the country. Has not only the largest but most overcrowded prison system in the US. Demand for inmate housing forces the state to spend more on construction while neglecting drug treatment programs and probation. Prison system has essentially become a revolving door for poor, highly dysfunctional and often illiterate drug users.

18 Facts and Figures DOC estimates an additional $6.1 billion will be needed for prison construction over the next decade to maintain current levels of overcrowding. California operates a number of prisons that house 6,000 inmates - about six times the national average size. The states backlog of arrest warrants is 2.6 million. There is not currently room in the corrections system for these individuals In 1996, more than 325,000 inmates were released from jail early to make room for more serious offenders In 1997, California sent about 140,000 people to prison but released about 132,000. Close to half of California Prisoners released are illiterate. 85 percent are substance abusers. The typical offender sent to California prison has five prior felony convictions.

19 New York Origins of the prison-industrial complex traced to New York state governor Nelson Rockefeller and one of his Successors, Mario Cuomo. State prison boom set n motion by Cuomo’s use of the Urban Development Corporation, despite public and political opposition. This corporation had the advantage of financing prison construction by issuing state bonds without voter approval. In effect, the UDC was transformed into a rural development corporation that invested billions of dollars in upstate prisons, while renting these facilities to the Department of Corrections at the expense of taxpayers.

20 Facts and Figures In 1972, the number of inmates in New York reached its lowest level since 1950. Initial Rockefeller drug laws issued the convicted a harsh new sentence of fifteen years to life for possessing four ounces or distributing two ounces of an illegal drug. Between 1982 and 1994, Mario Cuomo added more prison beds in New York than all other previous governors combined, spending $7 billion in the process. From 1982 to 1990 the states inmate population doubled. Even with all these criminals off the street, violent crime rose 24 percent in the same period. During Cuomo’s tenure, twenty nine new correctional facilities were constructed. Between 1973 and 1995, New York’s inmate population had increased almost fivefold. Despite the incredible rate of construction, the prison system was more overcrowded than it had been when the prison boom began.

21 The War on Drugs: A driving force behind the prison boom


23 Drug Policy and Recent Trends Roughtly 1000 new Prisons have been built in the past 2 decades, largely to accommodate non-violent criminals. Since 1991, the rate of violent crime in the united states has fallen by about 20%, while the number of inmates has risen by approx. 50%. Currently, Sixty percent of prison occupants are in prison due to drug offenses

24 Race, Gender and Incarceration African Americans currently make of seventy-four percent of the prison population, and fifty-five percent of drug convictions, but only thirteen percent of drug-users. Black men are 5 times more likely than white men to be arrested for a drug offense 1 out of every four black men will be incarcerated at some point in their lifetime. Of 80,000 women in prison, 70 % are nonviolent offenders.

25 Yvonne

26 Key Findings on the Failures of Drug- Free Zones In Massachusetts, it was found that less than one percent of drug-free zone cases actually involved sales of drugs to youth. In New Jersey, fewer than 1% of arrests takes place outside drug-free zones. Within the zones there has been a steady increase in arrests since the law was implemented. A Utah study found that most sales occur not on the streets, but within a residence that simply happens to be located within 1000 feet of a school.

27 Problems Facing Drug Felons Post- Incarceration Many states will withhold identification or drivers license from drug felons for up to 3 months after release. This makes it nearly impossible to land a job or rent an apartment. Drug felons are at least partially ineligible for welfare benefits in all states. Many states also restrict access to public housing Federal student loans are not available to drug felons. Ironically, felons convicted of assault, burglary, and rape are still eligible for this benefit. Voter Disenfranchisement

28 Postsecondary Correctional Education A Potential Way to Reverse the Current Trends.

29 Incarceration is a Growing Problem in the U.S. Incarceration rate Prison Population


31 There are multiple factors contributing to this growth War on Drugs Legislation Voter Apathy + Private industry Release Without Preparation

32 Education is closely tied to prison population Average prisoner is less educated than average citizen Only 11% of prisoners with some college Inmates with some college have lower rate of recidivism

33 How does lack of education contribute to imprisonment? Low socioeconomic status + lack of education = low opportunity High school diploma no longer adequate Minimum wage

34 PCE from a humanitarian perspective Benefits to honest, hard work Recognize consequences Role models for children Increased ability to attain employment

35 Does postsecondary correctional education work? Less infractions Increased self-esteem & communication Lower recidivism rates

36 PCE from a fiscal perspective Average yearly cost of incarceration Maryland study shows significant savings 95% of felons eventually released into community Texas study also demonstrated savings

37 For More Information The Sentencing Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which promotes reduced reliance on incarceration and increased use of more effective and humane alternatives to deal with crime. It is a nationally recognized source of criminal justice policy analysis, data, and program information. Staff of The Sentencing Project provide leadership and training to a broad range of criminal justice practitioners on policies and practices designed to produce more constructive outcomes in the system.

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