Comment: Privatized prisons

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Privatized prisons

The shift to privatization coalesced in the mid-1980s when three trends converged: The ideological imperatives of the free market; the huge increase in the number of prisoners; and the concomitant increase in imprisonment costs. In the giddy atmosphere of the Reagan years, the argument for the superiority of free enterprise resonated profoundly.

More Prisoners, More Money: This contemporary push to privatize corrections takes place against a socioeconomic background of severe and seemingly intractable crisis. Under the impetus of Reaganite social Darwinism, with its "toughness" on criminal offenders, pris on populations soared through the 1980s and into the 1990s, making the U.S. the unquestioned world leader in jailing its own populace.

While incarceration statistics have skyrocketed, crime rates have increased much more slowly. In fact, from 1975 to 1985, the serious crime rate actually decreased by 1.42 per cent while the number of state and federal prisoners nearly doubled. The number of people sent to prison is actually determined by policy decisions and political expediency.

In short, it all comes down to money. Everything is about money.