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Friday, August 19, 2022

Columns

Hot Topic: The end of private prisons


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After a comprehensive investigation into the efficiency of private prisons, the U.S. Department of Justice has decided to not renew the contracts of private prisons. The prisons continue to operate overcapacity and bleed money.

For this week’s “Hot Topic,” The Cougar opinion staff discuss if the DOJ make the right decision in ending private prison contracts and what will the DOJ do now about their overcrowding situation.

Opinion columnist Marialuisa Rincon

I think, by principle, privatizing prisons is not a good thing.

From a humanistic perspective, it is objectively wrong to profit off of another person’s suffering, no matter what they have done or how much they deserve it.

The directive would only affect 13 prisons and a total of 22,000 inmates, or around 1 per cent of the current imprisoned population, so it would have little effect on the overcrowding problem. Also, the contracts won’t go through immediate termination, but they will be allowed to expire.

If the DOJ recognized the lack of safety and ineffectiveness of the for-profit prison system, why are they just now doing something about it? That’s a question for another day, I suppose, but for now I’m glad that they made the right decision and started moving toward a more humane prison system.

Opinion columnist Jorden Smith

When discussing the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ decision to end their association with private prisons, you have to consider the flawed logic that ultimately caused the proverbial “breakup.”

The Office of Inspector General recently published a report that finds private prisons are more dangerous than BOP’s prisons, which is a factor that shapes the BOP’s new stance. The kicker, though, comes when the report admits a major flaw: The report does not take into account the different demographics of each prison.

The way prisons run are majorly based on the gangs that make up the prison. Since they usually break down by race, demographics are an important factor.

Along with that, this report correlates high rates of things such as contraband and grievances filed as evidence that render these private prisons as more dangerous. This means absolutely nothing — more contraband busts could mean that private prison guards are finding contraband.

This is an oddly spontaneous move that will displace 25,000 and is based on self-admittedly faulty report. The government at work.

Opinion columnist John Brucato

Private prison contracts are a stain on the U.S.’s criminal justice system.

Citizens have called for reforms for decades, yet these facilities can operate with even lower standards then a DOJ-supported prison.  They can get away with violating human rights because they do not house citizens. They also operate on a contract basis with loose guidelines.

Keep in mind that these private prisons are a business.  Their loss will have an economic impact that the country will need to shoulder, but that is the cost of change.  Ending these inhuman prison facilities is the next step toward reforming the system.

There is only one option for the DOJ: release prisoners serving small sentences or with low-level, non-violent drug crimes.  Overcrowding is already an issue for the DOJ, and now that these prisons are closing they will need the room more than ever.

The inmates serving time for “dimebag” crimes, or that have a short amount of time left on their sentences, should be released into non-prison programs and/or parole.  The system cannot house all those we deem as criminals, and the space is better served toward those with violent or major drug charges.

Assistant opinion editor Thom Dwyer

The DOJ’s decision to discontinue its funding of private prisons is a great decision that could not have come soon enough.

Humans should not be managed in a way where they are taken care of  in the cheapest and most profitable manner regardless of what they have done to end up there.

The federal government may be ineffective and wasteful, however. This is a rare occasion in which I would say that an entity with those qualities would be better at carrying out the convictions of criminals than private ones.

“Hot Topic” contributors can be reached at [email protected]

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