Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Prisoners for Sale

Kurt Kruger, jailed for being with a friend who shoplifted DVDs
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Once upon a time, I recall being horrified when I heard that we were outsourcing our prisons. Prisons? For money? Locking people up to turn a profit? Yes. Those institutions necessary for civil society, those necessary evils that make nervous the patriots among us. They were now Enterprise.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. The business of America is business, and we are always on the lookout for new ways to construct a profit. We will turn every stone, explore every hole, climb every tree, sell anything that smacks of advantage, and then turn around and laud our behavior as some sacred ritual that keeps the wheels of commerce – and, so the world – turning. Like Ezekiel’s. Limits are something to be explained to children who cannot yet understand our holy quest, this place we call reality.

But, this BUSINESS of paying someone to keep another being, another citizen imprisoned? Whoa! Let me recap: I get money if I send you away? I get money if I KEEP you locked up? Wow. OK. Let me ask another question: I have the majority vote and the regulations deciding whether or not you remain in prison? And, I have the power to tack on the extra time that equals extra profits for me and mine? Cool! I am ALL IN!

To say that it is the height of immorality is like saying rape is an infringement. Those who would seek to make a profit from the suffering of others – read that: suffering that they can control and extend – are damned. Those who set up a corporation in order to profit from the windfall dumped upon the heads of shareholders are running their own circle in hell.

Current events example? It seems that
two judges (not a solitary, errant, hypocritical gnome, but two – oh let’s call them –demons) in my home state thought it perfectly acceptable to send thousands of kids to a private juvenile hall, or wilderness program, or whatever other cute name they created to trip up anyone who would think twice about the circumstances. These two judges thought it perfectly A-OK to send kids away for the minor crimes other judges would refer to parents, counselors, and anyone else who could possibly give a damn. Perfectly acceptable to do so at more than twice the normal rate of incarceration for such crimes. What? That’s part of the job, right? Judicial latitude.

Did it set off any alarm bells to find that social workers AND prosecutors complained about the off-scale rates of incarceration? The complaints did little to stop the flow of kids into the private prisons for years, until someone discovered that the judges had extorted fees from the owners of the private juvenile programs. Yo! Pay me, and I'll channel kids through your systems in numbers sufficient to turn a profit. Everyone's a winner - right?

The kids lost months and years in the programs. The judges made money. Hundreds? Thousands? No, Millions. Millions of dollars for sending some punks away. All good, right? Peace maintained.

No. Yea! No!!! Charges have been filed.

One judge did the apologetic “What was I thinking?!” dance. The other is silent. On the advice of his lawyer, of course. I guess he hopes for a judge that shares his sensibilities. Did I mention that a number of the kids did not have lawyers?

Perhaps we should just dig properly portioned holes for these two, Just to move them closer to their circle.


Janie said...

I saw a headline about the crooked judges today but never got around to reading the story until I read your blog.
Wow. That's rotten and low, all right.
I agree, allowing our "private, for profit" way of doing things to extend to the legal system is immoral. Actually, there's a lot about "private, for profit" that's immoral. Drug companies faking studies, for instance, and ignoring data about people having deadly complications. Or peanut butter factories sending out salmonella laced goods. Or... well, you get the idea. We could go on with this list for awhile.
But kids being sent to juvy jail for a judge's profit? Truly unconscionable. I hope somebody's superheating the fires of hell for those crooked judges.

CoyoteFe said...

Janie -

It seems out sins are endless. Worse is when we ignore them, because it is beneficial to do so. Worse still is using our fears to benefit from sins. And, yes! Those who generate BILLIONS in profits from healing - or pretending to heal - people own the hell-circle right next to these judges. A song for another day.

Carolyn said...

My fear is not the collapse of our economy but the collapse of our morality....when everything is for sale/profit and the only way to "live" is to sell each other out....I worry what we are creating.
My personal feeling is we are flees on a big wet dog and one day that dog is just going to shake us all off!
Blessings and smiles

Lori Skoog said...

Fe...I knew nothing about this, thanks for enlightening me. Please do a follow up on these judges.

By the by, how goes it over there?

rebecca said...

Okay, for once, you've left me speechless. I resign myself from the human race.

CoyoteFe said...

Carolyn -
I'm with you. Yes, we must feed and clothe ourselves, but then is the next thing gadgets and investments or justice and compassion?

Lorelei -
I will check for more info. Hope all is well in the land of the brrrr!

Rebecca-san -
Nooooo! Come back! We have benefits. And chocolate.