By Kurtis Bright
Whistle Blower John Kiriakou: For Profit Incarceration Showing Remarkable, Ugly Profits, But At What Cost? Although Dick Cheney and Former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez Were BothIndited for Abuse of Office, Deadly Prisoner Abuse and Criminal Activity by For-Profit Prison, the Abuses Continue.
One of the aspects of human existence that makes us so different from most other animals on the planet is our ability to feel empathy, and to feel it so deeply. But even deep empathy cannot tell us what some things are like without experiencing them ourselves. Combat is one. you can watch all the war movies you want, you can shoot weapons at the firing range and go to the paintball place with your buddies, but I’m betting that if you haven’t ever been under fire yourself, you cannot really know what that feels like.
Prison, especially a for-profit prison, is another, nearly unimaginable horror.
Whistle blower John Kiriakou, the former CIA case officer, analyst and Senate Foreign Relations Committee senior investigator was jailed after exposing the illegal torture that was routinely taking place at the CIA under the Bush Administration.
Far from going away quietly after serving a 22-month sentence for exposing the Bush-era waterboarding as the torture it was, Kiriakou instead is now writing about American torture systems for civilians. He is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Kiriakou, as a felon knows whereof he speaks.
Looking private for-profit prisons, which, like Guantanamo and Abu Graib is also a government-run and sanctioned system of abuse and torture, he writes,
“The country’s two largest private prison corporations, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) released their annual financial reports last week, showing that they each made thousands of dollars in profits per prisoner incarcerated. GEO made a profit of $2,135 per prisoner, while CCA squeezed out $3,356. This is most certainly not cause for celebration.”
He points out that profits are up for private prison contractors like GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), both of which Cheney and Gonzales are closely associated with profit by decreased services, sometimes amounting to lethal neglect or worse and slave labor.
These are not dry statistics. When we look at the implications of those numbers we realize that they represent thousands of dollars–extra dollars produced in the past year alone–that have been squeezed from the food, the health care, maintenance, the salaries of the guards charged with keeping the prisoners safe and other costs which are required to keep prisoners safe and healthy. Those dollars, in short, have been squeezed from thousands of human lives.
Following the revelations that came out after the Black Lives Matter protests, not everyone who ends up in prison deserves to be there. And not everyone who dies there deserves to die.
There used to be a time when the aim of prisons was rehabilitation. They still use that word sometimes. But how closely focused on rehabilitating the sources of their profits can a private for profit prison
There is a sickness at work here at the heart of this very ugly twist on capitalism, and it is appropriate that Kiriakou comment on it, considering the sickness he personally exposed at the heart of the CIA torture program, and the price he paid for that bravery. Thank you, Mr. Kiriakou.