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Tuesday, April 19, 2016


by Gary Beck

“In the United States of America there are companies that profit if you go to jail. These corporations spent over $45 million in lobbying to make sure when you get sent to jail, you go to their jails. They are so good at this that there was a 40% increase of private prison detainees between 2002-2012. They are currently outpacing state and federally funded prisons. Yet there is no evidence that there are any savings in the use of private prisons. . . . Stewart Detention Center (SDC) in Lumpkin, Georgia, is one of the largest immigration detention facilities in the United States with the capacity to jail 1,752 people. Although the facility is owned by Stewart County and is contracted as an IGSA (Intergovernmental Service Agreements), the facility is actually operated by CCA. SDC houses immigration violation detainees who are mainly Hispanic, from Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina and had the highest count of inmates partly because of its capacity. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents detain men, women and children suspected of violating civil immigration laws at these facilities. Most of those held at the 250 sites nationwide are illegal immigrants awaiting deportation, but some green card holders, asylum seekers and others are also there. A recent report on conditions in immigrant detention centers such as Stewart finds a systematic and ongoing failure by the government to adequately inspect facilities run by public and private contractors. The report entitled 'Lives in Peril: How Ineffective Inspections Make ICE Complicit in Immigration Detention Abuse,' alleges a pattern of basic human rights violations leading to deaths, suicides, violence and sexual assaults in facilities that were given a clean bill of health by federal inspectors.” —Father Jeremiah J. McCarthy, Southern Cross, March 16, 2016

While Chris Matthews grilled Trump during the most recent townhall, the GOP candidate uttered one of many outrageous statements regarding the country’s prison system that went unchallenged and largely unnoticed. “I do think we can do a lot of privatizations, and private prisons it seems to work a lot better,” said Trump when asked how he planned to reform the country’s prison system.Matthews didn’t ask Trump to elaborate or explain why he believes giving prisons a profit motive to lock people up is a good idea. But the fact of the matter is that the private prison boom in America has been so disastrous that even members of the Republican party have began speaking out against them. —Raw Story, April 3, 2016 
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group avoided a combined $113 million in federal income taxes in 2015 alone, according to an analysis of federal financial filings by the racial and economic justice group Enlace. The prison business is booming despite efforts to reduce the nation's prison population, which has exploded in recent decades and forced the government to contract with private prison companies to meet demand. Last year, CCA reported $222 million in net profits, and GEO Group reported $139 million. CCA and GEO Group have enjoyed increased profits per prisoner housed in their facilities since 2012, when both companies began converting themselves into special real estate trusts that are exempt from the federal corporate income tax, at least in the eyes of the IRS. —Truthout, April 8, 2016.

Crime, more violent,
more sophisticated
innovates new ways
to injure the helpless,
defraud the innocent.
Protection is haphazard,
except for the privileged
and punishment is futile
without rehabilitation,
meaningful alternatives.
So the penal industry thrives
as other businesses go broke,
leaving citizens abandoned
on vulnerable streets.

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director. He has published chapbooks of poetry (Days of Destruction, ExpectationsDawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, DisplaysConditioned Response, and Resonance) and fiction (A Glimpse of Youth). Fault Lines, Perceptions, Tremors and Perturbations will be published by Winter Goose Publishing;  A Glimpse of Youth by Sweatshoppe Publications. His novels include Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Acts of Defiance (Artema Press), and Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing). Call to Valor will be published by Gnome on Pigs Productions; Now I Accuse and Other Stories by Winter Goose Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. He currently lives in New York City.