Jailing for Dollars: The Federal Government Takes Steps to Eliminate a Moral Stain on Justice in the US

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The United States has become the world’s leading jailer with 2.2 million people in jails and prisons across the country.  With a combination of government and privately run facilities, the nation faces the moral issues surrounding the prison-industrial complex.  As reflected in a recent New York Times article, the U.S. Justice Department has announced plans to phase out the use of privately run facilities, citing less safe conditions than their government run counterparts.

In the Obama administration’s continuing efforts to address inequities in the criminal justice system The U.S. Justice Department announced plans to phase out its use of privately operated prisons, calling them less safe and a poor substitute for government-run facilities.  According to Celia B. Fisher, Director of the Fordham Center for Ethics Education “this is a welcome step toward addressing the inequities produced by a public-private system that incentivizes high incarceration rates with devastating effects on poor and minority communities.

Fordham University Center for Ethics Education brought attention to this issue in a conference on “Jailing for Dollars: The Moral Cost of Privatizing Justice” featuring Cindy Chang, Los Angeles Times, Scott Cohn, NBC, Thomas Giovanni, Brennan Center for Justice, Judith Greene, Justice Strategies and Michael Jacobson, Vera Institute of Justice. Speakers explored pressing moral questions about the prison-industrial complex, including dangerous overcrowding, unsafe work and health conditions and its consequences on individuals, families and society at large.

To watch the video of this conference, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to play.

Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D. is the Fordham University Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethics Education. Fisher’s  Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologist, is now in its fourth edition from Sage Publications.

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: February 19, 2016

Photo via Naitonal Archives Catalog
Participants in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. | Photo via National Archives Catalog

Voices for Our Fathers Keeping Memory of Horrific Study Alive
The Tuskegee syphilis experiment recruited poor men with “bad blood” from rural Macon County, Ala., as test subjects. The study went on for decades, despite its ethical issues.

‘Government only pays for the positive outcomes.’ A strikingly new approach to social problems.
Two states announced Tuesday that they would experiment with an unusual method of financing human service programs that allows governments to pay nothing unless the programs are successful.

Needle Exchanges Can Now Get Federal Funding
Lifting the ban underscores a growing recognition that needle exchange programs can help reduce the the spread of infectious diseases

A First-Aid Class for Mental Health
Most people know how to help someone with a cut or a scrape. But what about a panic attack?

Continue reading “Ethics & Society Newsfeed: February 19, 2016”

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: January 22, 2016

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Record 30,000 Organ Transplants Performed Last Year
Doctors attribute the 5% increase in donations in 2015 to Americans’ growing willingness to donate organs.

Why We Need to Rethink HIV Attitudes
Robert Klitzman argues it is time to re-examine attitudes and laws criminalizing potential HIV exposure.

Advancing Medical Professionalism in US Military Detainee Treatment
A bioethical argument that current medical ethics standards provide a sound basis for military medical practice, even in situations where military missions must be reconciled with patient needs.

Continue reading “Ethics & Society Newsfeed: January 22, 2016”

Putting Justice Back in the Justice System: ‘It is time to defend the basic human rights of the voiceless individuals’

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

STUDENT VOICES

By Alyssa Dolan

The dialogue on the imprisonment of those with intellectual development disorders (IDDs) has progressively grown silent. Crucial to this nonexistent discourse is the tendency of the justice system to criminalize the traits associated with such disorders – traits including tendencies to tune people out, to repeat actions and words, to have poor eye contact, to fail to follow directions.

Continue reading “Putting Justice Back in the Justice System: ‘It is time to defend the basic human rights of the voiceless individuals’”

The Fallen Children: has the Christian narrative failed foster care?

By: Kate Smoot

Photo courtesy http://thegentreport.blogspot.com/2012/10/juvenile-delinquency-age-of-majority.html
Image via http://thegentreport.blogspot.com/2012/10/juvenile-delinquency-age-of-majority.html

Justice is notoriously difficult to get right.  Often, injustice prevails through simple ignorance or willful blindness.  Even the best-laid plans may go horrifically awry through inadequate attention to complex social realities. In a course entitled “Health Disparities and Social Inequalities” taught by Dr. Celia B. Fisher at Fordham University, we utilize current social research to link theoretical frameworks with careful attention to context.   In one study, “Pathways to Prison: Life Histories of Former Clients of the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems,” imprisoned adults were invited to tell their own stories, addressing their own understandings of justice, agency, and responsibility.

Continue reading “The Fallen Children: has the Christian narrative failed foster care?”

Louisiana Incarcerated: How We Built the World’s Prison Capital

Louisiana is the world’s prison capital.

As Cindy Chang pointed out during our Jailing for Dollars conference, and wrote in The Times-Picayune: “The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s.”

Continue reading “Louisiana Incarcerated: How We Built the World’s Prison Capital”

‘Jailing for Dollars’ event discusses ethical issues surrounding the privatization of American prisons

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From left, Cindy Chang, John Pfaff, Michael Jacobson, Thomas Giovanni, and Judith Greene.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Over the past 30 years, the United States has become the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails.

On April 23, a panel of experts discussed the ethical issues surrounding the privatization of American prisons at a conference entitled “Jailing for Dollars: The Moral Costs of Privatizing Justice”  sponsored by the Center for Ethics Education.

Continue reading “‘Jailing for Dollars’ event discusses ethical issues surrounding the privatization of American prisons”