The Result of America’s Prison-Industrial Complex

One of the things that sets me apart from many members of the gun rights community is my opposition to prisons. You won’t hear me demand violators of current gun laws be prosecuted more harshly or that we need to stop releasing prisoners early due to the high recidivism rate. Beyond the fact that prisons are a form of collective punishment (society gets to pay to house, feed, clothe, and guard prisoners) they are also sources of slave labor for the state and private corporations. The fact that prisons serve as a source of slave labor make stories like this unsurprising:

An American judge known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom manner was jailed for 28 years for conspiring with private prisons to hand young offenders maximum sentences in return for kickbacks amounting to millions of dollars.

Mark Ciavarella Jnr was ordered to pay $1.2m (£770,000) in restitution after he was found to be a “figurehead” in the conspiracy that saw thousands of children unjustly punished in the name of profit in the case that became known as “kids for cash”.

Private organizations such as Corrections Corporation of America and their public equivalents like UNICOR and MINNCOR [PDF] use prisoners as a source of extremely cheap slave labor. Because of their access to slave labor these companies are able to undercut other market producers who have to rely on free laborers. By issuing stricter sentences the judges are able to get a kickback from the prison-industrial complex and the prison-industrial complex is able to keep their manufacturing floors stocked with laborers. It’s a win-win situation… at least for everybody but the prisoners.

The idea of incarceration leads itself to this type of problem. Eventually tax victims tire of paying for the food, shelter, clothing, and guarding of prisoners and demand alternatives. The state and its cronies, knowing they can make a nice profit by using prison labor, happily provide an alternative. Tax victims happily agree to the idea because it relives them (at least they belief it relieves them) of footing the bill to maintain prisons and the new scheme is put into motion. Of course the population that is actually affected, the prisoners, are unable to voice their opinion but nobody seems to care about them.