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Problem With Private Prisons: Judges Jailed Kids For Money

The sentencers have become the sentencees in a Pennsylvania courtroom, where two judges pleaded guilty yesterday to accepting over $2.6 million from private detention centers in exchange for handing down long sentences to hundreds of juveniles.

Between 2003 and 2006, teens who came before the judges received time in detention centers for minor crimes. In exchange, the judges got paid. One teen received three months for shoplifting.

These individual judges are nothing less than criminals, but perhaps their crimes expose the bad incentives involved with the whole system of private prisons. For each prisoner they house, a private company receives money from the government. Just like every other business, private prisons want to make as much money as they can.

Thus there's an incentive to keep more people in prison for a longer period of time. The well-financed and organized prisons can lobby to make sentences harsher. Last November, the prison lobby in California helped kill a plan for recidivism-reducing programs that could have saved $2.5 billion in spending and reduced the prison population.

Do you think privatizing prisons is part of the problem?


Join The Conversation
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
That is the problem today; they build these big beautiful prisons, and then insist on filling them with riff raff.
Rebecca14916991 Rebecca14916991 8 years
I think they are very overdiagnosed as well. I wonder...
CG, are you saying teachers and school administrators get paid per ADD student they have? Just curious, because I've thought of ADD and ADHD to be completely over diagnosed.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
There will always be corruptible people in power and this is an example of where oversight worked like it is suppose to, they caught the judges. I don't like the idea of private prisons because by their very nature as the article suggests their very ability to provide necessary services at a certain standard is dependant on the quantity of prisoners and length of sentence,which is too manipulative a need have stand in the way of objective justice.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 8 years
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Gee. No one could have seen that coming. I agree as well, Mich.
liliblu liliblu 8 years
"I think privatizing prisons is a huge part of the problem. The more I learn about how our nation's prisons are run, the more disturbed I am." Mich, I couldn't agree more.
Pegona Pegona 8 years
Clara--IT DOESN'T MATTER what the prison's reasons were, even if they were the exceedingly far-fetched philanthropic ones that you mention. Sentencing is up to the judges, to be done in a fair and impartial manner. No private business has ANY reason to pay for sentences. It's corruption, and this is one truly sick example of the awful consequences corruption can have.
clarabelle98 clarabelle98 8 years
devils advocate moment - Is there ANY possibility that the prisons asked and paid for these longer sentences because they felt it would benefit the kids? It says a kid was jailed for 3 months for shoplifting. It DOESN"T say if that was his first offense or what he stole. I'm just curious to see the bigger picture. I'm not saying these judges weren't wrong, they absolutely were wrong, but were the prisons reasons behind it just as wrong?
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
IMO, the problem isn't the privatization, it's how the government pays, and the lack of oversight.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
I think privatizing prisons is a huge part of the problem. The more I learn about how our nation's prisons are run, the more disturbed I am.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
Public-private partnerships lead to corruption.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
they should investigate schools next, to see how many people are getting paid for referring kids for ADD testing and subsequently getting paid for now having them in thier school.
mydiadem mydiadem 8 years
But private industry always does a better job and saves us money?!?! Right?
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