Ironically, the “Land of the Free” has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. Another bizarre consequence of the “small government” Republican reign of the last thirty years has been that they have told people that they are going to provide “law and order” by making stuff illegal and locking people up. So much so that the prison population has grown by 500% in the last thirty years. I consider this another example of the hypocrisy of the Republican Party; if you believe in a strong central government to fight terror abroad and ensure domestic order by locking people up in record numbers at home, then please say so and stop hiding behind the “we’ll get government out of your life” persona.
As is typical in strong government arrangements that are sometimes called Facism and other times a free market economy with an aggressive state sponsor, private corporations will often form symbiotic relationships with the policy of state. Just as Halliburton is there to profit from our operations in Iraq, the Geogroup is a private corporation that runs prisons. Typically these types of symbiotic relationships are one of the major sources of corruption; corporations profit from government action and so have money to spend to elect people who will continue such actions. In the end, its an excellent opportunity for private corporations and public officials to make money off of the taxpayers.
If that weren’t so bad, typically the government actions that engender profit are otherwise destructive to human lives: in order for Halliburton to get those juicy no-bid contracts, lots of people had to die. It’s the same with the Geogroup. In order for the Geogroup to make money, people have to be incarcerated. That means that laws have to be passed and people have to be put away.
This kind of government-private sector symbiosis is often mistaken by democrats as an example of the abuse of a free market system. Let me assure you that it is not. Free markets are about people being able to freely chose what they want without the government making the choice for them. The prison system and logistics support for our military operations are the ultimate examples of a forced choice on behalf of the government. A company driven to satisfy the consumer has a vested interest in keeping them happy, but in this case, the ultimate consumer are government politicians. As politicians are driven by campaign donations and stock ownership, the result are organizations that are non-responsive to the groups they are supposed to be serving. This results in tainted water being supplied to marines by Halliburton as described in the DVD documentary Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers.
In regards to the GEO Group, Paul Wright of the Prison Legal News says that “They gain their contracts through lobbying and cronyism and political favoritism. They make their profits once they have the contracts through short staffing their facilities and underpaying their staff.” Who are two of the largest stock holders in the GEO Group? How about Alberto Gonzalez and Dick Cheney. All of this came to light for me because a regular on the Howard Stern Show, Kenneth Keith Kallenbach (who can be seen here in all his Stern show glory) died in prison custody. This single death caused an examination of the GEO Group by the Howard 100 News team that has found that an abnormally large number of prisoners died in GEO Group custody.
Attempts to use the legal process to investigate this has been problematic as you can imagine. District Attonry Juan Angel Guerra said that prior grand jury investigations into the GEO Group had been broken up by police. He finally held the grand jury secretly and returned an indictment against Cheney and company, only to have a judge throw out his indictment and admonish the District Attorney. Mr. Guerra’s interest in the GEO Group may have also been the reason he was voted out of office in the most recent election. All in all, results that are not too unusual for corrupt Facist governments.
Welcome to the Land of the Free.