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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.