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Cops will quickly tell you that they often arrest the same crooks over and over again. They see the same faces in the booking areas and they find their fingerprints and footprints and MO at crime scene after crime scene. They cannot seem to help themselves. If there’s a TV or car to stolen they’ll take it. If someone “needs robbing,” well, they’re more than happy to oblige. And, they leave the same evidence and clues behind, nearly every single time.

This déjà vu all over again activity is so routine that oftentimes cops are able to take a quick look at a scene and immediately know the name and home address of the suspect. Repeat offenders are so familiar to police that officers commonly know the crooks’ family members and are on a first-name basis with them. They’ve investigated them so doggone many times over the years that they even know their preachers, their teachers, their friends, their hangouts, their barbers, their favorite beer, and even the names of their pets.

The Habitual Housebreaker

For example, once, while training a new detective I was dispatched to  break-in at a local business. We arrived at the location and went inside to speak with the manager who offered details about the crime—point of entry, burglar located money hidden in a secret location. No security cameras. The back door had been kicked open and smack dab in its middle, near the doorknob was a large, very clear and distinct footprint. A tennis shoe of a certain brand.

While speaking with the store manager my new partner had gone back to the car to retrieve his handy-dandy Sirchie fingerprint kit and subsequently began to dust various surfaces, hoping to lift a case-breaking bit of evidence. When I’d heard all I needed to hear from the manager I told the new guy to stop what he was doing and pack up his powders, brushes, lifers, and tapes. I was ready to go. He wrinkled his brow and gave me a look that indicated he thought I’d lost my mind.

Once we were back in the car he expressed his lack of confidence in my method. “Why,” he asked, ” did you do that? I hadn’t finished processing the scene. The suspect probably left fingerprints and other evidence.” I told him to be patient and to trust my experience and instinct.

I pulled out of the parking lot and drove down the street for a couple of blocks when a familiar car passed us heading in the opposite direction. The driver cut his eyes toward me in a sideways glance. I made a U-turn, flipped on my blue lights, and sped up until I caught up to the car. He immediately pulled over (definitely not his first rodeo). My partner asked why I was stopping the car. As I opened my car door and slid from my seat, I told him to follow me.

I approached the driver’s window and asked the man to step outside the car. He, of course, asked why I’d stopped him. I, in turn, asked him to hold up his foot so I could see the bottom of his shoe, a tennis shoe, a shoe of the same brand as the one that made the print on the door at the burgled business. He did as I asked and lifted his leg, bent it at the knee to expose the bottom of his foot, and held it steady for me to inspect.

I took a glance at the shoe tread and then told the man I was arresting him for the break-in of the business. I handcuffed him and had him take a seat in my car where I advised him of his rights and then told him I knew he’d broken into the store. No doubt about it. I asked if he’d used the money to purchase crack cocaine. He said yes to both. My partner’s mouth hung open in disbelief. It had been less than one hour since we’d first received the radio message about the burglary.

Later, I explained to my partner that:

  • The shoe print was one I’d seen at previous house break-ins
  • The shoe had a distinct marking on its bottom; a chunk of the sole was missing
  • The crook obviously knew where the cash was hidden
  • The store manager said a friend was there the previous day when she closed up for the night. It was late, the bank was closed, and he saw where she’d hidden the cash.
  • Her friend was known to me as someone I’d arrested numerous time for breaking and entering. A man who regularly wore those shoes.
  • Her friend was a known crack user.
  • The friend routinely drove by “his” crime scenes after police arrived. He seemed to enjoy watching the process.

It was an educated hunch on my part and it paid off when I saw the crook pass by. His sideways glance in my direction was a red flag. I also knew the guy would confess to the crime right away. A quick confession was part of his routine. In addition, him being out so early in the morning was another indication that something out of the norm. This was a man who slept during the day and stole and broke into houses at night to fuel his addiction to crack. He was like a bat that returns to its cave at the first sign of daylight.

The Stats

During a 9-Year Follow-Up Period (2005-2014), the Bureau of Justice Statistics examined the recidivism patterns of former prisoners. The Bureau collected information regarding a sample of former inmates from 30 states following their release from prison in 2005.

Highlights:

  • The 401,288 state prisoners released in 2005 had 1,994,000 arrests during the 9-year period, an average of 5 arrests per released prisoner. Sixty percent of these arrests occurred during years 4 through 9.
  • An estimated 68% of released prisoners were arrested within 3 years, 79% within 6 years, and 83% within 9 years.
  • Eighty-two percent of prisoners arrested during the 9-year period were arrested within the first 3 years.
  • Almost half (47%) of prisoners who did not have an arrest within 3 years of release were arrested during years 4 through 9.
  • Forty-four percent of released prisoners were arrested during the first year following release, while 24% were arrested during year-9.

*Resource – Bureau of Justice Statistics (from their website)

The Repetitive Maniacal Malefactor

During my time working as a sheriff’s deputy, we often arrested the one particular man whose crimes typically involved some form of violence—beating his wife and kids, fighting, etc.—and the violence seemed to escalate with each incident. He was a heavy drinker and, in spite of his extremely low income status, he routinely abused meth and cocaine. His family often went without basic needs but he was rarely without drugs or alcohol.

Each time we arrested the man he fought like a cornered wild animal. He was powerful when he was sober, but when his fuel of the day was a combo of methamphetamine and Jack Daniels, well, he was a real “beast.”

One night we received a call from a frantic child who said her mom and brothers and sisters were being held hostage by her dad. She went on the say the he had a gun and was firing it into the walls and ceiling and had even shoved the barrel into her mom’s mouth and then threatened to pull the trigger.

Log story short, when we arrived he—the “beast”—came outside holding a shotgun. I was able to approach from the side, out of his line of sight, and tackle him and take away the weapon. Other deputies then joined me for the wild ride that followed, the attempt to handcuff the man without him landing a punch with one of those ham-sized fists we’d all learned to avoid over the years.

So we arrested the guy, booked him, and then when he showed up at court, his wife testified that it was all a misunderstanding and that she loved her husband and would please, please, please appreciate it if the judge would let him come home. The judge dismissed the case.

A similar incident occurred a few months later and like this one the judge tossed the case and let the man go free.

A few months later the same guy went on a four-day binge of coke and booze when he picked up a young woman at a bar (his wife and kids were at home wondering where their next meal could be found). He convinced the woman to go for ride so they could be alone. Common sense aside, the woman agreed. As the pair drove out of the city and onto a dark country road, the man attempted to place a hand beneath the woman’s short shirt. She rejected the advance and he immediately slugged her.

She fought back but was no match for the powerful man. He continued to punch her until he reached past her and opened the passenger door. He pushed the woman out of the vehicle and she landed on the pavement. The estimated speed of the truck at the time was approximately 50 mph. The woman survived but was badly battered. So bad, actually, that she was never the same—appearance and mentally—ever again.

The man was later arrested and when he went to court the judge found him guilty and sentenced him six months in jail. He was to serve his sentence on weekends so he could work during the week. No substance abuse treatment. No anger management. No mandatory counseling. Nothing.

And like clockwork, for six months, his wife and kids visited him at the jail each and every Saturday and Sunday.

During the booking process, as I fingerprinted this guy, he turned and spit directly onto the side of my face. Let’s just say that he and I came to an instant understanding. Justice served.

So no, not every case involves a ton of legwork, detailed CSI investigations, long interrogation sessions, DNA, etc. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of who you know and what they do … over and over again.

It’s often been said that the jails and prisons in the U.S. operate on a revolving door system, with many of the same prisoners returning to incarceration time after time after time. Sadly, that’s a mostly true statement.

With nearly 2.5 million people crammed into U.S. prison and jail facilities, or on probation or parole—3,789,800 on probation and 870,500 on parole (2015 stats), well, that equals to approximately 1 out of every 37 people in the U.S. is currently under some sort of supervised correctional status.

Yes, America can proudly boast (note the sarcasm) that we hold 25% of the world’s prison population. That’s a pretty staggering number considering the U.S. accounts for only 5% of the world’s population. Those numbers don’t mean much, you say? Well, let’s approach from another angle … our wallets. Each year the U.S. spends between 74 and 80 billion dollars on incarceration. That’s BILLION dollars.

Sure, most citizens don’t want to be bothered with felons and other law-breakers. You know, out of sight/out of mind. But it’s not quite that simple. You see, Isaac Newton had the right idea when he mused, “What goes up must come down,” because the same applies to prisons, jails, and inmates—what goes in must come out. That’s right, the majority of people sentenced to jail or prison must be released at some point, and those former prisoners are generally released back into their former communities.

What happens to former prisoners when they do finally make it back to their old neighborhoods? That’s a question most people don’t consider because the ex-con’s troubles don’t pertain to “most people.” Unfortunately, though, an inmate’s troubles affects everyone. Remember the 80 billion dollars it costs to incarcerate and supervise those millions of prisoners? Well, U.S. taxpayers are responsible for paying that whopping bill.

Doesn’t it makes sense that we should try to address the problem instead of throwing good money on top of bad? Obviously, incarceration isn’t always the correct answer to every case, because many offenders just keep coming back after they’ve “paid” their debt to society.

Let’s address recidivism …

… and why I think it occurs so often. First of all, I have many years of experience working in both corrections and in law enforcement, which means I’ve seen the system in action, from all sides. I’ve also owned a business where I employed a few former inmates, men who’d received prison sentences resulting from my investigations. Ironic, huh? Yes, I honestly believe in second chances.

What do former prisoners face upon their release? (these may vary depending on location)

1. They must, on a regular basis, check in with a probation or parole officer.

2. They must have an established residence.

3. Many drug and sex offenders must register with the local police, advising officials where they’ll be residing and working.

4. They must maintain employment (in some areas this is a discretionary requirement imposed by the court).

5. They’re required to complete a monthly report detailing their earnings, address changes, if any, employers name (probation officer will visit the job site and home), drug offenders must submit to urine testing, all must submit vehicle information, record of purchases (many probationers may not possess credit or debit cards), and they’re encouraged to further their education (This is a bit of a catch-22 for some since drug offenders may not receive grants to attend college. Murderers, yes, but drug offenders, no).

Some companies refuse to hire people who’ve been convicted of felonies … any felonies.

A vast number of employers absolutely will not hire felons and, as I stated above, drug offenders are not eligible for student loans. In fact, many felons are legally banned from working in certain professions, such as:

  • airport security screener
  • armored car crew member
  • bank teller
  • child care provider
  • delivery driver
  • health care positions with direct patient contact
  • public safety officer
  • residential installers
  • apartment or condo maintenance
  • jobs that require handling money
  • Realtor
  • Some volunteer programs refuse to accept felons (any felon)—nature programs, animal shelters, libraries, etc.

Even when a felon finds a job he is subject to a list of restrictions, including (this is only a partial list, and it may vary from area to area):

  • Agents /officers must be allowed to visit worksite and/or speak with a supervisor to discuss client’s performance, progress, and accountability
  • Cannot work in a position that serves alcohol
  • Cannot work with minors
  • Cannot work with vulnerable adults
  • Employment must be within or close to a supervision district so that agents may visit the worksite
  • Not allowed to use or have contact with devices that host a computer modem (i.e. any device that can access the Internet)
  • Cannot travel outside area or state (affects delivery drivers)

A few professions do hire convicted felons, but the list is short. And, this is still entirely up to the company. Some do not employ those who’ve been convicted of crimes.

Professions often available to convicted felons:

  • Warehouse work
  • Maintenance and janitorial positions
  • Food service (no alcohol)
  • Production and manufacturing
  • Assembly
  • Construction
  • Landscaping

In addition, many convicted felons are banned from living in publicly assisted housing (section 8), or worse.

So, you see, without a job, or with the limited occupations to choose from, and without housing and educational opportunities, it’s darn tough for a former prisoner to make it on the outside.

To top it all off, the convicted felons never actually “pay their debts to society.” The stigma of being a “convicted felon” hangs over their heads for life. This is especially true for those who were convicted of federal offenses. Some states allow convicted felons to vote in elections (others do not).

Still, felons, even one-time first offenders convicted of minor, non-violent felonies lose their right to own firearms and other weapons, their right to vote, student loans, housing, etc. And these restrictions are for life.

Second Chances!!

Wouldn’t it make sense to give the non-violent offenders a second chance, by removing the “convicted felon” status after, say, 10 years of living a productive, crime-free life. At least then they’d have the opportunity to return to school, live in better neighborhoods (away from criminal activity), find a decent job that would help support their families and take better care of their children, who, by the way, also suffer by being forced to live in poor conditions.

Having a second chance and goals to work toward could be part of the solution to the “prison problem” in this country. Now, I’m not talking about hardcore career criminals and repeat offenders. Nor am I including violent offenders. Most of those thugs need to remain behind bars for as long as we can keep them there. And I certainly don’t believe that every inmate would take advantage of the opportunity if presented to them. But there would be many who would work hard to achieve the goal and finally be able to put the mistake behind them for good.

If this helped keep just a small portion of the recidivists out of prison, the results could be huge. Families could remain together, children would grow up with two parents in the home, employers might find top-notch employees, the former inmates could become better educated and productive members of society, and taxpayers would save approximately $30,000 per year per inmate. Not to mention that instead of costing taxpayers, the non-recidivist would become a taxPAYER.

New York City is set to begin a program that offers guaranteed employment to each of their 8,500 inmates as they leave jail. These jobs are to be short-term, low skill level employment—cooks, restaurant bussers, or construction flaggers, etc.

The $10 million program will apply to inmates no matter what crime they’ve committed, even if they’re on the sex offender registry. Everyone gets a job. Everyone, including murderers, rapists, robbers, and …

I’m not sure the New York City plan is the best idea in the world, but they’re making an effort to address the issue. While not the most well-thought-out plan, it could still give former prisoners a much-needed boost of confidence, self-worth, and desire to do better. It could also go a long ways toward reducing the intense shame many feel after their release.

Anyway, that’s my two cents on the matter. What do you think? A second chance for some, or lock ’em up and forget about them? Remember, though, most of those who go in must come out at some point.

looking-out.jpg

Of course, there is the issue of private prisons that have contracts with the government … contracts that promise a minimum number of inmates will be sent their way. We must also remember that the private prisons are a big, money-making industry with stockholders.

And then there’s the food industry that makes a bundle off the prisons. And the construction companies, the jobs for officers, stock brokers medical staff, administration, the vehicle contracts, the weapons contracts, dog food (canines), condiment sales (I once sat next to a woman on a plane who was on her way to a huge nationwide prison food convention. She was in charge of condiment sales to prisons and jails—packets of mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise, along with napkins, and sporks—a multi-million-dollar industry)

Inmate phone calls are EXPENSIVE!

Let’s not forget the prison phone systems, where a collect call can go for fees as high as nearly $300 for just one hour of conversation. Think about it for a second. A call for a kid’s birthday, a mother’s sick, etc. $300 for an hour of family time is a tough expense for most families.

A portion of that whopping phone bill goes back to the prison in exchange for a contract with the provider. Again, it is the family who shoulders this burden since inmates don’t earn anywhere near enough money to cover the expense, yet, officials encourage strong and regular family contact.

Anyway, you get the idea.

A very happy prisoner. I asked why the big smile. Her reply was, “Things could be worse. At least I’m alive and healthy.” Notice the blue phone and its cord at the right side of the photo. Collect calls only.

Private Prison Profits Big Time!

CoreCivic stock at the time of the original posting of this article (now revised), stood at $34.70 per share. Today (May 21, 2018), shares were at $20.65. Still, the “people business” is certainly booming when others are failing miserably.

To read more about CoreCivic, visit their website by clicking here.

  • CoreCivic, one of the largest private prison companies in the world, is the company formerly known as Corrections Corporations of America.
  • CCA houses approximately 90,000 prisoners in over 65 facilities.
  • CCA has been the center of controversy over the years. Most of their troubles, but definitely not all, were related to cost-saving practices that included inadequate staff, extensive lobbying, and lack of proper cooperation with legal entities. CCA swapped amid the ongoing scrutiny of the private prison industry. Many believe the name change of private prisons is due to their rising unpopularity among the public, and to avoid a connection to past bad and illegal behavior.

Another for-profit “private prison company,” Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC), now a subsidiary of G4S Secure Solutions changed its name to the GEO Group, Inc. It, too, houses thousands of prisoners around the world.

The Geo Group alone reported GEO reported total revenues for the fourth quarter 2017 of $569.0 million. This figure up a bit up from $566.6 million for the fourth quarter 2016. 2017 revenues include $2.8 million in construction costs associated with the development of the  Ravenhall Correctional Centre in Australia.

Yes, private prisons are a big business.

#prisonreform

#secondchances


Life on the inside

Above and below – inside a small county jail where conditions were truly deplorable.

Showers drained into the corridors.

 

Jailer entering corridor.

Jail Pods

132-jail-module-interior.jpg

Above – Inside a shipping container “pod” that was converted into a dormitory-style jail cell. This pod is located inside a parking garage outside an overcrowded county jail.

Below – Space between two modules serves as the recreation yard. Absolutely no sunlight to be found, anywhere. Nothing but concrete, sewer pipes, exhaust fumes, and prisoners.

pod-recreation-area.jpg

Below – In this county jail, prisoners are brought to these small rooms where they “visit” with family members seated on the opposite side of the window. The family’s room is a mirror image of the inmate’s visiting room. The view below is from the inmate’s side of the glass.

visiting-room.jpg

Overcrowding is a big issue within some prisons and jails. As an answer to their growing space problem, this county jail (below) installed steel beds in the hallways, outside the already packed jail cells.

hall-in-shadows.jpg

 

Looking out from inside the trustee cells.

 

Hallways and corridors were narrow, making for dangerous conditions for the jailers. The jail was heated by steam (boilers) and radiators were there, but scarce. There was no heat inside the cells. And, there was no air conditioning whatsoever. The only airflow came from  small widows. Here, you can see one of those windows (top left corner), open and tilted in toward the cells. The electrical cord is connected to a portable TV sitting on the wonky shelf, also at top left next to the window.

Narrow corridors are dangerous!

 

Makeshift antenna controls were fashioned from string or wires. Not allowed, but prisoners will be prisoners …

Wires to rotate rabbit-ear antennas from side to side to help receive a better picture. No cable!

 

Below is an image of an isolation cell (“the hole”) where unruly, violent prisoners in this jail are housed. No bed, no sink, no toilet. Merely a drain in the floor to use for, well, you know.

Recently, a group of governors, faith-based leaders, and other experts were assembled to find ways of helping the nation’s inmate population turn their lives around, get a second chance, and successfully re-enter society. The idea behind the move is to make our communities safer and to provide opportunities for those men and women as they return to life outside of prison walls.

Since approximately two-thirds of the more than 650,000 ex-offenders released from prison every year are rearrested within three years after their release, the committee’s task will not be easy.

It’s often been said that the jails and prisons in the U.S. operate on a revolving door system, with many of the same prisoners returning to incarceration time after time after time. Sadly, that’s a mostly true statement.

With nearly 2.5 million people crammed into U.S. prison and jail facilities, or on probation or parole—3,789,800 on probation and 870,500 on parole (2015 stats), well, that equals to approximately 1 out of every 37 people in the U.S. is currently under some sort of supervised correctional status.

Yes, America can proudly boast (note the sarcasm) that we hold 25% of the world’s prison population. That’s a pretty staggering number considering the U.S. accounts for only 5% of the world’s population. Those numbers don’t mean much, you say? Well, let’s approach from another angle … our wallets. Each year the U.S. spends between 74 and 80 billion dollars on incarceration. That’s BILLION dollars.

Sure, most citizens don’t want to be bothered with felons and other law-breakers. You know, out of sight/out of mind. But it’s not quite that simple. You see, Isaac Newton had the right idea when he mused, “What goes up must come down,” because the same applies to prisons, jails, and inmates—what goes in must come out. That’s right, most people sentenced to jail or prison must be released at some point, and those former prisoners are generally released back into their former communities.

What happens to former prisoners when they do finally make it back to their old neighborhoods? That’s a question most people don’t consider because the ex-con’s troubles don’t pertain to “most people.” Unfortunately, though, an inmate’s troubles affects everyone. Remember the 80 billion dollars it costs to incarcerate and supervise those millions of prisoners? Well, U.S. taxpayers are responsible for paying that whopping bill.

Doesn’t it make sense that we should try to address the problem instead of throwing good money on top of bad? Obviously, incarceration isn’t always the correct answer to every case, because many offenders just keep coming back after they’ve “paid” their debt to society.

Let’s address recidivism and why I think it occurs so often. First, I have many years of experience working in both corrections and in law enforcement, which means I’ve seen the system in action, from all sides. I’ve also owned a business where I employed a few former inmates, men who’d received prison sentences resulting from my investigations. Ironic, huh? Yes, I honestly believe in second chances.

What do former prisoners face upon their release? (these may vary depending on location)

  1. 1. They must, on a regular basis, check in with a probation or parole officer.
  2. 2. They must have an established residence.
  3. 3. Drug and sex offenders must register with the local police, advising officials where they’ll be residing and working.
  4. 4. They must maintain employment (in some areas this is a discretionary requirement imposed by the court).
  5. They’re required to complete a monthly report detailing their earnings, address changes, if any, employers name (probation officer will visit the job site and home), drug offenders must submit to urine testing, all must submit vehicle information, record of purchases (many probationers may not possess credit or debit cards), and they’re encouraged to further their education.

The above sounds reasonable until you consider the vast majority of employers absolutely will not hire felons, and, in most instances, drug offenders are not eligible for student loans or other such perks we all enjoy. In fact, many felons are legally banned from working in certain professions, such as:

  • airport security screener
  • armored car crew member
  • bank teller
  • child care provider
  • delivery driver
  • health care positions with direct patient contact
  • public safety officer
  • residential installers
  • apartment or condo maintenance
  • jobs that require handling money
  • barber
  • Realtor
  • First responder
  • Teacher
  • Psychologist
  • Attorney
  • Some felons are not eligible to obtain business licenses
  • liquor store clerks
  • restaurants that serve alcohol
  • health care – nurses, dental assistants, etc.
  • nursing homes

*Keep in mind that rules and laws may vary from one area to another.

Even when a felon finds a job he is subject to a list of restrictions, including (this is only a partial list, and it may vary from area to area):

  • Agents /officers must be allowed to visit worksite and/or speak with a supervisor to discuss client’s performance, progress, and accountability
  • Cannot work in a position that serves alcohol
  • Cannot work with minors
  • Cannot work with vulnerable adults
  • Employment must be within or close to a supervision district so that agents may visit the worksite
  • Not allowed to use or have contact with devices that host a computer modem (i.e. any device that can access the Internet)
  • Cannot travel outside area or state (affects delivery drivers)

A few professions do hire convicted felons, but the list is short. And, this is still entirely up to the company. Some do not employ those who’ve been convicted of crimes.

Professions often available to convicted felons:

  • Warehouse work
  • Maintenance and janitorial positions
  • Food service (no alcohol)
  • Production and manufacturing
  • Assembly
  • Construction
  • Landscaping

In addition, many convicted felons are banned from living in publicly assisted housing (section 8).

So, you see, without a job, or with the limited occupations to choose from, and without housing and educational opportunities, it’s darn tough for a former prisoner to make it on the outside.

To top it all off, the convicted felons never actually “pay their debts to society.” The stigma of being a “convicted felon” hangs over their heads for life. This is especially true for those who were convicted of federal offenses. Some states allow convicted felons to vote in elections (others do not). Still, felons, even one-time first offenders convicted of minor, non-violent felonies lose their right to own firearms and other weapons, their right to vote, student loans, housing, etc. And these restrictions are for life.

Wouldn’t it make sense to give the non-violent offenders a second chance, by removing the “convicted felon” status after, say, 10 years of living a productive, crime-free life. At least then they’d could return to school, live in better neighborhoods (away from criminal activity), find a decent job that would help support their families and take better care of their children, who, by the way, also suffer by being forced to live in poor conditions.

Having a second chance and goals to work toward could be part of the solution to the “prison problem” in this country. Now, I’m not talking about hardcore career criminals and repeat offenders. Nor am I including violent offenders. Most of those thugs need to remain behind bars for as long as we can keep them there. And I certainly don’t believe that every inmate would take advantage of the opportunity if presented to them. But there would be many who would work hard to achieve the goal and finally be able to put the mistake behind them for good.

If this helped keep just a small portion of the recidivists out of prison, the results could be huge. Families could remain together, children would grow up with two parents in the home, employers might find top-notch employees, the former inmates could become better educated and productive members of society, and taxpayers would save approximately $30,000 per year per inmate. Not to mention that instead of costing taxpayers, the non-recidivist would become a taxPAYER.

Anyway, that’s my two cents on the matter. What do you think? A second chance for some, or lock ’em up and forget about them? Remember, though, most of those who go in must come out at some point.

Of course, there is the issue of private prisons that maintain contracts with the government … contracts that promise a minimum number of inmates will be sent their way. We must also remember that the private prisons are a big, money-making industry with stockholders.

And then there’s the food industry that makes a bundle off the prisons. And the construction companies, the jobs for officers, stock brokers medical staff, administration, the vehicle contracts, the weapons contracts, dog food (canines), condiment sales

(I once sat next to a woman on a plane who was on her way to a huge nationwide prison food convention. She oversaw condiment sales to prisons and jails—packets of mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise, along with napkins, and sporks—a multi-million-dollar industry).

Let’s not forget the prison phone systems, where a collect call can go for fees as high as nearly $300 for just one hour of conversation. Think about it for a second. A call for a kid’s birthday, a mother is sick, etc. $300 for an hour of family time is a tough expense for most families.

A portion of that whopping phone bill goes back to the prison in exchange for a contract with the provider. Again, it is the family who shoulders this burden since inmates don’t earn anywhere near enough money to cover the expense, yet, officials encourage strong and regular family contact.

Anyway, you get the idea.

By the way, Corrections Corporations of America stock was, at the time of this post, at $22.74 per share, down from $34.70 back in April 2017. Still, the “people business” is certainly booming.

It is my wish/hope that the newly formed committee would put their heads together and realize that second chances could indeed have worthwhile effects. It’s worth a try to offer an opportunity at once again becoming a productive citizen instead of someone who has little or no likelihood of making it. No job, no housing, no attainable goals, and no self-worth do not offer the needed building blocks of a solid future outside of prison.