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Yes it's all about the money. Correctional institutions should be about rehabilitation, and when you privatize them, their focus is on profits only, and they'll find all kinds of schemes to enhance that profit. Cheap non-union prison guards with no benefits is one cost savings for the private prisons, but the lobbying fees in your article above are so huge, one has to wonder if "the prize" is much bigger than just the cost savings of private efficiency versus public bureaucracy.
So cheap prison labor has become a source of additional revenue that is hidden in the cost analysis...the real prize to be exploited...and this breeds corruption up the line where the incentive is to incarcinate for more and more profit rather than rehabilitate. It contaminates everyone involved in the chain...police, attorneys, judges, prison guards, etc...and of course the corporations that profit from prison labor.
The victims are the prisoners, drug users mostly, and poor minorities that have no voice...no legal rights...nothing. They are serfs in the American gulags.
I've been reading some of your articles in your website. Good analyses and thinking. Thanks for sharing.