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​Who Profits when Someone Goes to Prison?

With many people suggesting that tougher laws are often financed by the prison industry, which stands to benefit from now people being incarcerated for longer periods of time, that raises a great question: who benefits most from long sentences - especially considering that some people are given life in prison with no possibility of parole over pot?

The Cost of Incarceration

While every state is different, and every inmate requires a different investment as far as medical care, special accommodations and security concerns, housing someone isn't cheap. On average, it costs about $30,000 per year to feed, clothe and house an inmate. 

The total cost: more than $55 billion every year.

That figure includes inmates who require special medical care for life-threatening illnesses, those who are sent to maximum and minimum-security facilities, and those who require guards to escort them to court, hospitals and other facilities.

Who Pays the Bills?

U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for inmate care. This often has opponents of the prison-for-profit system up in arms, because it stands to reason that the prison industry will push for tougher drug legislation, stricter penalties and longer sentences. 

Many states have prison bed occupancy guarantees for prisons. They’re offering prisons a great deal for setting up shop in their states; they’re guaranteeing a certain number of customers each year. Four states—Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Virginia—guarantee prisons a 95 percent to 100 percent occupancy rate.

How do you guarantee that prisons will be stuffed with inmates? Toughen laws and create more severe penalties. 

There seems to be an ethical gray area when it comes to the prison lobby and how much control they have over legislation. What's your take? I’d love to hear what you think about the for-profit prison industry.

Attorney Carlos A. Gamiño 

Who's Footing the Prison Bill
​The U.S. prison population has skyrocketed in the last couple of decades, and it’s not just that more people are being caught. While that’s probably partially true, critics of the prison-for-profit industry say that there’s more to the story. Here’s Attorney Carlos A. Gamiño’s view:
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Who's Footing the Prison Bill?

Copyright 2014 by Attorney Carlos Gamino
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