The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has finally decided to terminate its relationship with the for-profit prison company, Youth Services International, whose name couldn’t be more misleading. For years the company has been embroiled in controversies involving covering up youth sex abuses by staff, falsifying records , and starving inmates, among a litany of other allegations occurring over the past few years.
Florida’s entire Juvenile Prison system is privatized, exposing it to abuse and corruption so the companies who hold the government contracts can squeeze out as much profits as possible. Despite the rampant problems with Youth Services International, the state of Florida is merely accepting new applications from other for-profit prison companies.
“These private prisons interfere with the administration of justice. And they’re driving inmate populations skyward by corrupting the political process,” wrote Senator Bernie Sanders in a Huffington Post article last year. “No one, in my view, should be allowed to profit from putting more people behind bars — whether they’re inmates in jail or immigrants held in detention centers. In fact, I believe that private prisons shouldn’t be allowed to exist at all, which is why I’ve introduced legislation to eliminate them.”
Senator Sanders went on to explain how the for-profit prison system facilitates prisoner abuses, harms minorities, victimizes immigrants, influences prison policy and immigration policy while corrupting politicians to favor the interests of the for-profit prison industrial complex. The state of Florida has clearly seen the problems posed by placing the management and control of their prison system in the hands of a private company, yet they are continuing to place the livelihood of thousands of teenagers who need help in the hands of companies who just see them as profit. The Justice is not for Sale Act proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders would ban private prisons in America, but in the meantime, states, such as Florida need to start taking action on prison reform by not using the criminal justice system as a means for profit.
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