Going nowhere: filling prisons and stadiums

I read this today, and it knocked me out.

“Today, one in every 15 black men is incarcerated — that’s a 500 percent increase since 1986. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there have been more than 250,000 black-on-black homicides since 1976. Our “school to prison pipeline” is so huge that it would make the Keystone XL pipeline look like a soda straw.”

We have a prison problem, which is no revelation of insight. Too many are in prison, too many young men and women who should not be are trapped by unjust mandatory minimum sentencing laws, cruel drug laws, and an impulse to incarcerate that ensures individual men and women who could get somewhere are going nowhere. Still, we have to fill our prisons

If private corporations are going to pay out big money to build massive prisons, it only serves their investors right to get returns. They build ’em, we fill ’em. Perhaps that model isn’t terribly different than sports culture. Build a stadium for football, and the tickets will sell. A boondoggle perhaps, a waste of taxpayer money, a luxury for the wealthy paid for by the people, not our problem. Give us football. It’s not a shock to finally see the names on the side of both monstrosities. The business model is different, perhaps, but they succeed on the same directive. If you build it, we will fill it. Is it really a surprise to see Florida Atlantic University sell their naming rights to GEO Group? Private prisons, private stadiums. Sports, Prisons, whatever. Let private companies run our prisons, we’ll just look away and take their money, and fill our football stadium.

I’ve learned a great deal about the prison problems in the US in the past year. It’s one issue where the more you learn, the more you feel terrified that we ever got here, and afraid we can never leave here. I don’t know the solution to this stuff, these deeply rooted systemic “corrections” problems, I just read, and worry, and hope that folks smarter than I are capable of re-imagining a system that isn’t defined by incarceration.

This seems like a strong start.


One response to “Going nowhere: filling prisons and stadiums

  1. Pingback: Eric Holder and the immoral costs of incarceration | Third Ten Million Years·

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