Privately run prisons have been playing an increasingly prominent role in the American penal system since they were introduced in the 1980s. Although the total US prison population only grew by 18% between 1999 and 2010, the population incarcerated in for-profit prisons grew by 80%, according to a 2012 report by The Sentencing Project. In private federal prisons, the growth for the same period is a whopping 784%. Can private prisons alter the judicial process in your case? The answer is no, technically, as that would be illegal. But several think-tanks, organizations and actual cases of judicial corruption paint a different picture.
Are Pro-Incarceration Policies Promoted by Private Prisons?
Is it just by chance that the rise of the private prison industry also coincided with the dramatic increase, up 74% from 1997 to 2007, in public spending for prisons? According to a report entitled Gaming the System by the Justice Policy Institute, the answer is clearly no. The report claims that the private prison industry lobbies policy makers intensely to keep arrest, conviction and sentencing legislation as punitive as possible. Why? Because that is how they make their profit. As the 2010 annual report of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), one of the largest private prison corporations, clearly states: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices…”. Does this mean that the private prison industry could be promoting legislation and judicial policies that could make the outcome of your case potentially more punitive? Yes, and especially in the case of drug offenses as the private prison industry lobbies hard to keep maximum sentencing in place for drug related crimes.
A Conflict of Interest
According to a report entitled Prison Bed Profiteers: How Corporations are Reshaping Criminal Justice in the US by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the issue boils down to the bottom line. The report states that not only do private prisons stand to gain from harsher and longer sentencing decisions in the courtroom, but it is also in their interest to keep prisoners inside instead of releasing them for “good behavior” and other rehabilitation based incentives that take place in public prisons.
A Case of Fraud and Corruption
In 2011 a Pennsylvania judge was sentenced to 28 years in prison after being found guilty of accepting more than $1 million in bribes from the builder of private prisons for juveniles. Mark Ciavarella had been sentencing kids as young as 10 years old to detention for crimes like stealing a container of nutmeg in exchange for cash kickbacks. He pled guilty.
Could the influence of private prisons alter or affect the outcome of your criminal court case? Call us today at (404) 341-6880 to talk to one of our attorneys about this important issue!