Sunday, March 08, 2009

Lock-em-up and take the cash

Saturday's Guardian has a truly horrendous story about judges in Pennsylvania recieving kickbacks from the private-run prisons for passing custodial sentences on children. Each inmate represents a bundle of cash paid from the taxpayer to the private-run prisons; the more there are the more money there is; so it makes sense to buy judges (two were bought for $2.6 million). The case has been called "kids-for-cash" . Judges have passed custodial sentences on a child for throwing sandal at her mother, on another for stealing a jar of nutmeg worth $4, and on another for slapping a friend at school. One judge in the first two years of his term passed custodisal sentences in 4.5% of cases; by 2004 (by which time he was on the payroll) it had risen to 26%. Of course, here in blighty New Labour as been pushing private prisons with great enthusiasm. Whether the same sort of thing happens here we shall probably never know; but it is perfecly obvious that a privatised prison sector has a deep vested interest in ever-higher levels of incarceration.


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