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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Pokie for Profit

According to the New York Times, the state of Arizona is considering handing over their entire state prison population to private prisons.

The Pokie for Profit.

A chilling thought, especially when we reflect on the history of what has been done in the name of profit. At the expense of human beings. Let’s play a word association game called:

In the Name of the Green God.

I’ll drop a word, a phrase, a name, a place, and you let your mind associate the role of cashmonay. The price paid in flesh, bone, blood, sanity:

Pre-existing Condition.
Bernard Madoff.
Atlantic Slave Trade.
Corrections Corporation of America.

Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private prison provider, already runs six prisons in Arizona, and is sure to be a player when Arizona’s whole incarcerated population goes on sale. Quoted by The Times, Louise Grant, a spokeswoman for the company said, “We expect to be there to make a proposal to the state.”

According to the Corrections Corporation of America website, the firm operates 65 facilities, including 44 company-owned facilities, with a capacity of approximately 87,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The Wall Street Journal reports that CCA controls 39% of all private beds.

Because that’s where the smart money is.

The Journal also reports that over the last 25 years the country’s inmate population was grown from approximately 700,000 to 2.38 million, and that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In 1992, CCA, a publicly traded company, sold at around $8 dollars a share. This past Friday, at 1 PM, shares sold for $25.06. Forbes quoted Hedge Fund manager, and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management William Ackman, who’s bullish on CCA because of their aggressive prison building and his belief that there will be inmates to fill those beds, “[The prison business is] like a hotel where you lock in the guests, and if they try to escape you shoot them.”

CCA’s 2008 4th quarter profits were $40.5 million. The 4th quarter profits from 2007 were $34.9 million. The 4th quarter reports for 2009 aren’t in yet, but it was a recession year. Recessions are good for the prison business: desperate people do desperate things.

And end up in the Pokie for Profit.

Who are these desperate people?

According to Human Rights Watch, black men are incarcerated 6.2 times the rate of white men.

Michael Datcher


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