ALFORD: An Inside Look at our Rotten Prison System
Harry C. Alford | 9/18/2013, 3 p.m.
With new, fast and big cash comes corruption. An example is Pennsylvania Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. He and his partner, Judge Michael Conahan, received millions of dollars from a private prison management firm for their “Kids for Cash” sentencing. More than 5,000 youths received extreme sentences and were sent to a private prison in exchange for cash from the executives of the company. Judge Ciavarella sent a 10-year-old to two years incarceration for accidentally causing minor damage to his mother’s car. This was typical of these two judges.
Judge Ciavarella has been sentenced to 28 years. Judge Conahan has pled guilty and will be sentenced shortly. But for 5,000 children, their lives will never be the same. These victims were sent to PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers. The company or companies have kept their names out of the press, which shows you how sophisticated their crisis management firm is. This example is one of many and I am certain much corruption is taking place at all levels and in all geographies.
Their lobbying firms are powerful, too. They got Congress in 1997 to dictate that the Department of Justice should do a test on privately-run prisons. The new federal prison was located in Taft, Calif.. The contract went to Wackenhut (now called The GEO Group, Inc). The test was declared “successful” and federal prisons started becoming privatized ever since.
We have a rotten prison system. If we would legalize drugs, perhaps the prison population (predominantly Black and Hispanic) would start to fade away and private prisons will be a thing of a horrible and ugly past.
(Next week: Our Rotten Probation system.)
Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: email@example.com.