The myth of private sector superiority has been a deliberation of ample subjects, privatized prisons specifically, publicized and sponsored as low cost and efficient with room for corporate profits, further analysis indicates a deeper underlying problem an issue barred behind the cold steel gateways, roaming through the gaol corridors, a corporeal beast living beyond the superficial, infesting and undermining the integrity and intellectual origins of the Department of Justice and their duty for “fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. Prison system has evolved, presently its labeled as a quasi-public good for its excludability, prisons may be provided by private firms through the market system however the repercussions of these services flow well beyond the compass of corporations, and as shown embark ethical penalties, leading to an under allocation as defined by public goods and should be furnished by the government to correct for these anomalies. So what are we talking about here?
The substance of discussion is the downfall of the prison system, understated civil rights, the psychological complex intertwined with the dehumanizing factor that is embedded in this system, and principally its denouncement. Critics have shed light on this debacle, prominent writers, organizations, as well as media exploitation have sought to challenge the issue, nonetheless it calls for an uprising, a dogmatic crusade of no more is needed for there be any effects at hand.
A study known as the Milgram experiment shocked American audiences and revealed their Nazi like propensities when it showed what ordinary citizens were capable of doing by displaying their willingness to administer what they thought lethal levels of electricity under an authority figure. Having laid the foundation Stanford University sought an explanation, at the psychological level of nderstanding, of the tyrannical nature of humans precisely in prison systems and in a nutshell revealed the ease with which ordinary individuals, if granted power and authority, could transform into brutal and coldblooded tyrants by researching the prisoner and guard behavioral complex. Private prisons might be thought of as an answer to this dehumanization problem, however there are complications, at the micro level Randy Gragg discussed the economic and social costs of such ideas and reiterated the prevalent negligence of human rights and dehumanizing environment by analyzing a case in Florida.
The crisis fronting the prison system is that of mass incarceration, the epidemic growth of prisoners, has created an extraordinary demand, thus thriving business in prison developments. However, this has generated an extended term problem that mauls society, organizations such as In the Public Interested, have dissected the conspiracies behind private prisons and shed light on their financial domain while reaffirming the dog pound atmosphere.
As mentioned previously, Stanford took a crack at the problem to analyze human behavior under such circumstance and in 1992 BBC’s production of Quiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experiment, shocked America directed by Ken Munsen, for BBC’s news subsidiary agency, it encompasses a study conducted by Stanford psychology professor Philip Zimbardo in an effort to investigate the psychological effects of imprisonment and the psychological realm revolving around prisoners and guards.
This simple experiment was able to enlighten and show us the binary effect, it demonstrated the tyranny of human beings and the extent of atrocities human beings are capable of doing in the wake of power similarly encountered in the US penitentiary system, as Zimbardo sums it up he was interested in knowing what happens if you put “good people in an evil place” (Munsen).
Nonetheless the study was short lived, initially designed to last two weeks however it had to be shut down showed how innocent college students were corrupted by the system through simple randomization, the study was riddled with a hint of vagueness, however it showed two possibilities, that ordinary individuals can conceal horrid behavioral patterns and that circumstances along the environment shape our actions, sometimes forcibly requiring such alarming behavior. herefore safe to determine the effects on professionals. The guards who were peaceful college students quickly acquired a facade of tyranny, without any instruction or guidelines to follow, they took it upon themselves to set boundaries and rules on how to run the prison, they mentally tortured harassed and humiliated the prisoners who were college students just like them, the prisoners on the other hand were repressed, startled, submissive, and psychologically abused.
The study was performed under the control of Zimbardo, who took the role of prison warden, at times criticized for this double role which blinded him of the horrors that were going on, paralleled with the role of prison wardens who often oversee and don’t correct the mistreatment and horrid practices, psychologically giving the guards an “ok” due to the appeal of authority. Guards served as the dehumanizing element as they were able to restrict the liberties of the prisoners who had to sightlessly comply with their orders.
Furthermore, it showed the violation of basic human rights, prisoners are presumed evil, the reason they are in jail to begin with, and so we feel we must forgo their basic human rights and the only way to stop these malevolent behavior is by physically and psychologically restricting this behavior and this is only achievable employing dehumanizing tactics, as Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” yet this modest experiment showed us that once you become a prisoner, there is a loss of moral ethics.
Prisons in today’s society carry a malevolent connotation, it needn’t be an evil place however the immoral human element, which has shown throughout our history is the catalyst to this debacle. Our uthoritarian and voracious psychology has created this prison environment which fuels the behavioral fire of the guards creating a huge psychological effect on the dehumanization of prisoner, the setting itself is a the kick factor, nesting ground to nurture this irrational behavior, as stated by one of the guard participants, Dave Eshleman “you really become the part once you put on the khaki uniform, night sticks, and glasses”, while the prisoners were dressed in prison gowns, lost their hair, names replaced with numbers each adding to the loss of identity and humanity, which further reinforces the behavior of these guards, who see them as something less than human.
Randy Gragg, a prominent architectural design Harvard professor acknowledged for his contribution for Metropolis and New York Times Magazine, exhibits his writing, “A High Security, Low-Risk Investment: Private Prisons Make Crime Pay” for Harper’s Magazine, where he describes the ethical implications, the financial ramifications behind it, and societal multiplier effect of creating privatized prison, case in point a prison built by Wackenhut Corrections in Florida. Gragg discuss the “ethical implications” (1) as he himself describes that are embedded in this type of system, “the pressure to deliver both government savings and corporate profits” (Gragg 1).
As stated previously, it is the inhumane environment which leads to the creation of the dehumanizing factor in prisons, the layouts as reported are designed to “reduce stress, violence, and number of guards” (Gragg 1) however the opposite is true civil right violations are still prominent at the same alarming rate as those of government run facilities and the criminals are none but “corporate commodities. ” In the Public Interest, a research and policy advocacy group committed to apprising the common of government contracting and public private agreements and the impacts of privatization of public services, showcases its research study, “How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits,” wherein it analyzes the privatized prison system and the undercover earmarks designed at guaranteeing corporate profits while exploiting the public and its demise.
The idea that private market will lower costs to the tax payer is proven false, private prisons exploited taxpayers with their lockup quotas and occupancy guarantees, for instance a look at Lake Erie Correctional Institution was discovered to be a farm house, inmates were overcrowded, mismanaged, and there was a persistent issue of safety and deplorable conditions (In the Public Interest 10). Violence is reported to be higher in these conditions, the prison conditions restrict essentials, and encourage prisoners to partake in criminal conduct, they lose a sense of safety and belonging and tend to join gangs in attempt to find basic survival needs, this lead to private facilities to suffer from riots and safety problems, which were problems that were designed to be ridden of in the first place in the privatized system.
Furthermore, the establishment of rehabilitation and occupational work, is a controversial policy, but should be enacted as that is the purpose of correctional systems, to rehabilitate our society and turn them into productive individuals, of course this is not possible when prisoners lose a sense of humanity whether inside or outside prison, they are categorized and excluded from society when they enter the bureau of prisons. As shown, the promotion of the binary system is innate, some of us refuse to be corrupted by power as shown by the Stanford Experiment, however tyranny seems to prevail in such dark environments, the prison system along with its environment seems to lay the foundation for this evil to flourish, and even the most noble human being is enchanted by it.
Privatized prisons might be thought of as a solution to this problem with the mentality that the private sector does it better and at a cheaper cost, however it has demonstrated otherwise, dehumanization and the violation of human rights is rampant and well alive, the loss of individuality and inferiority complex fuels our evil side, humans are naturally evil and due to our nature we feel must project our power onto others case in point the Zimbardo experiment showed us that under the right environment and under the right circumstances people can be corrupted, which translates into similar conditions and effects seen in prison systems, the push for corporate profits has encouraged this environment, creating a circular flow, overcrowding and unpleasant conditions leads to rebellious individuals who in turn are abused by the prison guards as demonstrated by Zimbardo’s experiment.