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Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration Paperback – May 5, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; Reprint edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595584544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595584540
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #774,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In their follow-up to 2002's Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor, prisoner rights activists Herivel and Wright, with 16 other contributors, follow the money to an astonishing constellation of prison administrators and politicians working in collusion with private parties to maximize profits at the expense of taxpayers, community health and, of course, the 2.3 million inmates nationwide. The overarching narrative, laid out clearly in the opening article by Judy Greene, finds a system increasingly dominated by select, minimally accountable private companies for whom profitability depends on the promise of more and longer convictions. As such, investment in treatment programs, education and family assistance is diverted to organizations delivering substandard food and "health care" that allows hepatitis C to reach levels one doctor compares to "the Dark Ages with the plague"; corruption runs all the way down to prison phone contracts. Cruelty and administrative stupidity come in many forms, claim the authors; guards earning $5.77 per hour beat the young inmates of a Louisiana juvenile facility while abuse schemes and political back-scratching trump efforts to police them, as evidenced by the growth of industry tradeshows and companies (such as International Taser). This is lucid, eye-opening reading for anyone interested in American justice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Prison is big business, from contracts for construction and food and health service to transportation and providing guards. Prisoner rights advocates Herivel and Wright offer a collection of essays examining every aspect of incarceration and economics, from the effect on rural economies (jobs and higher population counts for the census) to urban economies (the social effect on poor neighborhoods with an overabundance of men rotating in and out of the prison system). Banks and brokerage houses provide the financing, and contractors provide everything from Tasers to aspirin. Lobbyists supporting prison-related industries influence federal and state governments with an eye toward profits more than criminal justice. Contributors analyze the exploitation of prison labor to support the military and the effect on free-market interests. Beyond the economics, contributors examine the “commodification” of prison culture, including the influence on hip-hop music and linkages between faith-based programs and prison privatization. This is an important analysis of a troubling social trend that has not been widely publicized. --Vernon Ford --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Wil S. Hylton is an author and essayist whose writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone, and many other magazines. His work has been selected for numerous anthologies, including Best American Political Writing, Best Music Writing, Best Business Stories, and Next Wave: America's New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.

Hylton's first book, VANISHED, describes the mysterious disappearance of an American bomber during World War II and the unyielding effort by scientists and adventurers to locate its missing crew. More information about VANISHED can be seen at www.vanishedbook.com.

Hylton has been featured on The Diane Rehm Show, NPR Weekend Edition, Hardball with Chris Mathews, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, American History TV, and The News with Brian Williams. He is a visiting writer at Johns Hopkins University, and a recipient of the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Journalism, granted by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

More of his writing can be found at www.wilshylton.com.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By sabonis on February 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In his 2005 article "Correctional HMOs and the Coming Prison Plague," author Will S. Hylton writes, "It occurs to me now that prisons are designed for keeping secrets, for holding inside not just men [and women] but also their lives and the details of those lives."

In Prison Profiteers, Tara Herivel and Paul Wright chronicle hundreds of instances where prisons not only kept their secrets close, but let corrupt politicians and huge corporations make off with millions by doing so. The authors compile essays and articles dealing with the private prison industry from every angle -- mapping prison costs in low-income urban neighborhoods, the effect of prison construction on small-town America, the mega-corporations that run what passes for health care inside prisons and the politicians that shape laws to help themselves and their rich friends, with little care about those people who actually pass through the system. The bottom line in every article seems to be the bottom line. Much more energy is spent by public officials flossing the image of being "tough on crime" for public support so they can cut deals that will supposedly lessen budget deficits or fill their pockets than create actual rehabilitation services or safety within prisons.

One of the most powerful advocacy pieces is Jennifer Gonnerman's article, "Million Dollar Blocks: Neighborhood Costs of America's Prison Boom." It looks at how much money is spent keeping prisoners behind bars, per person, added up per city block. The total is often over one million dollars for one block, mainly in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, where people -- usually people of color -- have little access to education and good jobs, and there is no other financial investment in their communities except keeping them in prison.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Kyle on October 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a compilation of articles written by no less than 15 respected authors. Chock full of statistics, the well sourced articles cover a range of topics related to the mass incarceration industry. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand what is driving the unprecedented growth of the American prison system.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gorilla Convict Publications on March 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Prison Profiteers is a well written and concise book that outlines and details the spiraling costs of incarceration today. The costs are many and more then they seem as future generations will be impacted by what is going on now with the Draconian sentences and policies being adhered too. Prisons run for profit, this is American right? A very good book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By August R. Jaxel on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This work explains the increases in cost and worisome trends in our prison system. Backdoor prison financing, the political expedience but practcal fantasy of shifting prison costs onto prisoners, the private prison industry, the prison health care industry, the prison manufacturing industry, and the prison telephone industry, to name a few.

This is a good read for anyone with loved ones serving time in our prison system, and for anyone with political leanings in county, amd state government.
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By Frank Smith on November 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
. America needs to be regularly shaken by works like this, a basic necessity if it is ever to awaken and survive.
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