JSalloum on 28 Jan 2001 05:55:12 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Profits of Punishment

Profits of Punishment

"I don't like empty beds. We are a private business"
Mike Samberg -  CCA prison warden

Profits of Punishment  Directed by Catherine Scott (cscott@tig.com) and 
Produced by Pat
Fiske will screen on COURT TV on JAN 31 2001 at 10pm EST and Feb 3rd at 6pm

Profits of Punishment is about business behind bars in the United States.
The film's main focus is on the jailers and the glitzy commercial arena of
the prison industry.  This is contrasted with the world of their captives
living out their confined lives on the inside.  The prison is a
long-standing image of state power.  What effect will it have on our
society now that the bright new prison is becoming an image of corporate
power as well?  What does it mean for democracy if community safety
increasingly becomes tied to the thriving business of locking up large
numbers of people?

In the era of "Law and Order" and "Zero Tolerance", tough new sentencing
laws adopted by the US and many other countries are resulting in an influx
of prisoners, creating massive overcrowding. Rather than looking at
alternatives that might prevent crime and reduce prison populations,
governments are responding to this crisis by increasing the prison capacity
and contracting prison to private multinational corporations. This has
created an international prison market dominated by a handful of
American-based companies.

Profits of Punishment follows the prison entrepreneurs to places behind the
glossy brochures, to a giant prison convention. Here we observe hundreds of
salesmen marketing the latest prison products such as portable restraint
devices, stackable cells and the latest surveillance technology.  People
like George Wackenhut - a self-made billionaire who has amassed his giant
fortune through his international security firm and Corrections
Corporation, highlights the burgeoning market in private prisons.  Private
prison pioneers discuss their strategies to create a more cost-effective,
innovative, clean, lean incarcerating machine.

In Texas we visit a factory assembly line in the Lockhart Work Facility, a
private prison owned and managed by the Wackenhut Corporation. This on-site
prison factory produces circuit boards for LTI, a company that had closed
its previous facility in Austin.  One hundred and fifty people lost their
jobs before the company opened a new factory months later inside Lockhart

Companies such as CCA and Wackenhut are willing to build huge prison
complexes on spec in the likelihood that they will be filled. In California
City, an economic backwater in the middle of the Mojave Desert, CCA has
built a $110 million prison to house 2.300 people.  Sheriff Apaio who runs
a tent jail in the desert of Arizona, adapts a quote from the movie "Field
of Dreams," to describe the situation - "you build it and they'll come."

Sheriff Apaio is the ultimate "get tough on crime" folk hero, promoting
himself as an "equal opportunity incarcerator."  He has initiated the first
ever women's chain gang complete with stripped uniforms.  Despite working
nine hours a day, seven days a week, the inmates are expected to pay $1 a
day for baloney sandwiches.

Profits of Punishment is an emotional experience, but also a
thought-provoking study of the reality of a booming prison industry and its
commercialisation through the development of private prisons.


Nettime-bold mailing list