Private Prisons in the United States

After an undercover investigation into American private prisons, Mother Jones journalist Shane Bauer reported on what he saw in the Correction Corporation of America's (CCA's) Winn Correctional Center. He found that among other issues, short staffing led to a host of problems, forcing the prison to cut services for recreation, mental health, reintegration, and even basic maintenance and sanitation. Bauer's article implies that prison staff were simply incapable of doing their jobs with the resources given them. As his article points out, CCA trained its cadets for just one-third of the amount of time that comparable public prisons do and paid its guards significantly less than public prisons. The result of this combined with the lack of staff, Bauer found, is that the prison staff at times did not have much control over the inmates, which contributed to a staggering rate of violence within the facility, much higher than that of comparable public prisons. Bauer implies that CCA's for-profit nature causes the company to cut corners elsewhere too, for example reporting that inmates on suicide watch do not receive the USDA's minimum recommended number of calories and that healthcare is insufficient– one inmate had his legs and fingers amputated due to gangrene after the infirmary refused to take his complaints about his condition seriously and his multiple requests for a second opinion were denied.

Photo taken by James West, photographer for Mother Jones. The image appears in the report.

Date Published: 

Thursday, June 23, 2016