First and Last Name/s of Presenters

Farren FuqueaFollow

Mentor/s

Professor Akbulut-Gok

Participation Type

Paper Talk

Abstract

The United States has the highest per capita prison population in the world, with over six hundred and fifty-five prisoners per one hundred thousand of the national population (Ahmed, 2019). Not only does the United States have the highest per capita prison population in the world, it also has the highest prison population in the world with over 2.12 million incarcerated as of 2019 (Ahmed, 2019). In order to keep control over the ever-growing prison population, the government turned towards private prison contracts in order to subsidize some of the federal prison budget (Mason, 2012). This for-profit prison system can be traced back to the ratification of the 13th Amendment and the world after the ending of slavery (Oshinsky, 1997), leading to what is now known as the “Prison Industrial Complex”. The “Prison Industrial Complex” was derived from the term “Military Industrial Complex”, which refers to an informal alliance between a nation’s military and the defense industry that supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy (Austin, 1990). The “Prison Industrial Complex” has been defined as the combination of private-sector and government interests that profit from increased spending on prisons (Austin, 1990). With the implementation of private prison contracts between the Federal Government and private prison companies, “fighting crime” has become a booming business leading to a bureaucratic system that has helped to increase the United States Prison population (Sheldon, 2001).

The prison industrial complex has become very controversial in recent years, regarding the uneven numbers of minority groups who are imprisoned along with the increase in private prison contracts for housing immigrants who have crossed into the United States illegally (Sozan, 2018). Does the “Prison Industrial Complex” threaten the health and safety of prisoners and underprivileged communities by focusing on the profits that can be made? Through a historical, political, and business perspective this research question will be explored in order to gain a well-rounded understanding of where the “Prison Industrial Complex” came from and how influential it has become in the current world of criminal justice. Historically, private prison contracts were created to save the government federal money on their prison budget (Schlosser, 1998). The historical context of slavery and Jim Crow Laws in the United States helped to solidify a belief that certain minority groups needed to be controlled through a socially accepted program (Oshinsky, 1997). Politics have always been involved with the prison system in the United States by dictating the precedent regarding prison sentencing, social rules that cannot be broken without punishment such as murder or robbery, and implementing laws on the local, state and federal level. The business aspect of private prisons is very profitable, bringing in over 3.3 billion dollars every year (Cohen, 2015). These high profit numbers benefit from harsher sentences for crimes and increased immigration detention centers, which is creating a cycle of influencing policy. The “Prison Industrial Complex” threatens the health and safety of underprivileged communities and prisoners, by lobbying for harsher punishments, mandatory sentencing, and increased policies that unfairly target under privileged communities in order to increase their own profits.

College and Major available

Global Studies BA, Political Science

Course Name and Number, Professor Name

Capstone Research HN-300-F, Professor Mary Ignagni & Professor Jennifer McLaughlin

Location

Digital Commons

Start Day/Time

5-5-2021 1:00 PM

End Day/Time

5-5-2021 4:00 PM

Students' Information

Farren Fuquea, Global Studies and Political Science, Honors minor, December 2021

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May 5th, 1:00 PM May 5th, 4:00 PM

The Threat that the Prison Industrial System Poses to the Health and Safety of Prisoners and Underprivileged Communities Throughout the United States

Digital Commons

The United States has the highest per capita prison population in the world, with over six hundred and fifty-five prisoners per one hundred thousand of the national population (Ahmed, 2019). Not only does the United States have the highest per capita prison population in the world, it also has the highest prison population in the world with over 2.12 million incarcerated as of 2019 (Ahmed, 2019). In order to keep control over the ever-growing prison population, the government turned towards private prison contracts in order to subsidize some of the federal prison budget (Mason, 2012). This for-profit prison system can be traced back to the ratification of the 13th Amendment and the world after the ending of slavery (Oshinsky, 1997), leading to what is now known as the “Prison Industrial Complex”. The “Prison Industrial Complex” was derived from the term “Military Industrial Complex”, which refers to an informal alliance between a nation’s military and the defense industry that supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy (Austin, 1990). The “Prison Industrial Complex” has been defined as the combination of private-sector and government interests that profit from increased spending on prisons (Austin, 1990). With the implementation of private prison contracts between the Federal Government and private prison companies, “fighting crime” has become a booming business leading to a bureaucratic system that has helped to increase the United States Prison population (Sheldon, 2001).

The prison industrial complex has become very controversial in recent years, regarding the uneven numbers of minority groups who are imprisoned along with the increase in private prison contracts for housing immigrants who have crossed into the United States illegally (Sozan, 2018). Does the “Prison Industrial Complex” threaten the health and safety of prisoners and underprivileged communities by focusing on the profits that can be made? Through a historical, political, and business perspective this research question will be explored in order to gain a well-rounded understanding of where the “Prison Industrial Complex” came from and how influential it has become in the current world of criminal justice. Historically, private prison contracts were created to save the government federal money on their prison budget (Schlosser, 1998). The historical context of slavery and Jim Crow Laws in the United States helped to solidify a belief that certain minority groups needed to be controlled through a socially accepted program (Oshinsky, 1997). Politics have always been involved with the prison system in the United States by dictating the precedent regarding prison sentencing, social rules that cannot be broken without punishment such as murder or robbery, and implementing laws on the local, state and federal level. The business aspect of private prisons is very profitable, bringing in over 3.3 billion dollars every year (Cohen, 2015). These high profit numbers benefit from harsher sentences for crimes and increased immigration detention centers, which is creating a cycle of influencing policy. The “Prison Industrial Complex” threatens the health and safety of underprivileged communities and prisoners, by lobbying for harsher punishments, mandatory sentencing, and increased policies that unfairly target under privileged communities in order to increase their own profits.

 

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