The United States puts more persons in jail for more reasons than anyone else, including China and Russia, in both total numbers and percentage of population.
Diversity, Inc., examines the American Legislative Exchange Council, which lobbies for laws requiring tougher prison sentences. It’s supporters include include outfits such as the Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group who (surprise, surprise) run prisons for profit.
ALEC is comprised of nine task forces, each responsible for developing what it describes as “model legislation”—essentially, a wish list of laws addressing subjects they would like to see passed in states. Over the past several decades, private-prison operators like CCA and GEO Group have worked with ALEC to ensure the passage of some of the nation’s toughest laws that have lined their pockets and enriched their shareholders.
When private prisons were actively courting state lawmakers, companies such as CCA and GEO as well as their lobbyists gave $3.3 million to state-level candidates in the 2002 and 2004 election cycles, favoring states with some of the toughest sentencing laws, according to a 2006 report authored by Edwin Bender, director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which tracks state campaign funding and lobbying.
“Companies favored states that had enacted legislation to lengthen the sentence given to any offender convicted of a felony for the third time,” Bender says. “Private-prison interests gave almost $2.1 million in 22 states that had a so-called ‘three-strikes law,’ compared with $1.2 million in 22 states that did not.”
Read the whole thing and consider the effects when the only motive is the profit motive.
Here’s a link to the ALEC website (I couldn’t get it to work).