Jail Mail

by on December 14, 2004 at 7:23 am in Economics, Law | Permalink

I edited a book, Changing the Guard, on private prisons and crime control.  Last week I received an interesting letter from an expert in the field….a prisoner in Tennessee.  Frankly, I was expecting a crank but in fact the prisoner, who shall remain anonymous, had a lot of intelligent things to say about how the prison system operates.  Here is one observation:

A privately owned and publicly traded company like CCA has no incentive to rehabilitate criminals.  It is in the best interests of the company for even more criminals to exist.  Unfortunately, the same is true of government run prisons.  And contrary to what you may have been told, prisoners are not paroled because they have indicated by their actions or behaviors while inside that they are less likely to reoffend; they are let go because the Parole Boards believe that will commit another crime.  This way the prison lobbyists can then "prove" that parole doesn’t work.  The Department of Corrections gets less money from paroled prisoners than it does for those kept inside.  And also, "good" inmates are less trouble (less labor) than the trouble-makers, and so trouble-makers get released.

Good analysis.  I hope, however, that he does not test his theory on how to gain early release.

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