As I write about the ongoing and never ending connection between the prison industrial complex and the military industrial complex and the association with for-profit corporations, I find myself on edge and angry. To know the individual pieces is upsetting but to see the entire immoral circle is beyond that feeling.
I was at the U.U. General Assembly a week ago volunteering to help at a booth with the Lionheart Foundation when a gentleman from a southern state approached to talk about what was happening in the largest prison in his area. Run by a private corporation, the prison was involved in a scandal in which judges in the area were investing in the corporation–which no doubt helped to keep the prison filled to capacity.
This discussion prompted me to look a little deeper into what was happening in the for- profit prison system – a system in which individuals are physically confined or interned by a third party under contract to a government agency. Private prison companies typically enter into contractual agreements with governments that commit prisoners and then pay a per diem or monthly rate for each prisoner confined in the facility.
Presently, corporations involved in building for-profit prisons as private prisons are profiting in the billions. The two largest corporations in the United States are Correction Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut (named after the former FBI agent who formed the for-profit corporation).
In 2002 the company was bought out and in 2010 the name was changed to G4S Secure Solutions. This probably helped to disguise Wackenhut, as it has a negative reputation in the United States and is known for creating contracts with corporate industries and using prison labor for as little as 17 cents per hour. Many items that are used by the military are made by prisoners in the for-profit prisons–a cozy connection indeed.
For more about for-profit prisons, you can view the PBS documentary at
Dot Walsh is a lifelong peace activist and member of the Engaging Peace Board of Directors.