Monday, November 23, 2009

Prisons R Us

Israel's Supreme Court should be commended for their recent decision outlawing the privatization of prisons.

The Court concluded, and I concur, that outsourcing your prisoners to private companies is a fundamental violation of human rights and the social contract between man and government.

The US Supreme Court and other countries where punishment of your citizens is a "for-profit" business should take heed.

I challenge readers (anyone out there?) to make a good argument for the privatization of prisons.

I'm interested in how you would address the ethical questions of whose responsibility it is to punish members of society when they violate the law, and who is accountable when corporations violate the very laws they are meant to be enforcing.

Of course, state prisons are also susceptible to violating prisoners rights, but at least there is some semblance of accountability, government oversight, and an ideal that seeks to maximize justice rather than profit.

Prisons are big business in the US, and not surprisingly, there are more people incarcerated there than anywhere else in the world. This shouldn't be a source of pride for Americans.

King’s College London International Centre for Prison Studies, found that in the U.S. 756 out of every 100,000 is incarcerated. Here are the numbers:

The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, 756 per 100,000 of the national population, followed by Russia (629), Rwanda (604), St Kitts & Nevis (588), Cuba (c.531), U.S. Virgin Is. (512), British Virgin Is. (488), Palau (478), Belarus (468), Belize (455), Bahamas (422), Georgia (415), American Samoa (410), Grenada (408) and Anguilla (401).

Anyone want to go into the prison business?