You’ve heard the term, but what is the prison industrial complex? This deceptively dry name describes the for-profit privatization of American correctional facilities. The vast majority of states rely on private prisons to accommodate surging prison populations, and it’s a lucrative business. The privatization of the prison system in America is often presented as a noble stroke of capitalism that lightens the burden of state and federal governments. But in reality, private prisons have a monetary interest in keeping people locked up, which has in turn influenced the justice system to morally objectionable ends.
Facts about the prison industrial complex paint a grim view of prisons and their sometimes horrific practices. As the numbers of incarcerated individuals continue to skyrocket in the U.S., private prisons are putting money in the pockets of corporations, and inmates are being subjected to conditions designed to cut corners and boost profits. There are lots of things Americans don’t know about the prison industrial complex, but it’s time to question whether turning a blind eye is really the best way to achieve justice.