Private Prisons Are Unethical, Dysfunctional, and Should Be Closed

Private Prisons Should Be Closed

When a father went to visit his son in a private prison, the staff told him his son was not there and that they didn’t know where he was.  After 6-weeks, he found his son in a local hospital.  His son had suffered severe brain damage and now has the mental capacity of a two-year old.  He was injured in a brawl that investigators found was instigated by a guard who was running a prison fight club.

If you were incarcerated, wouldn’t you want the state to ensure your safety and that your rights would not be abused?  As taxpayers, you should be concerned about how your money is used to fund these unsafe and inefficient private prisons. From the research I have gathered, it is apparent that the use of private prisons has too many trade-offs to be considered viable due to their widespread issues of cost effectiveness and mistreatment of prisoners. Throughout this post, I’ll explain the advantages of ending the use of private prisons, which are: an increased focus on rehabilitation, better treatment of prisoners, similar or lower costs of operation, and a reevaluation of the harsh penalties that have contributed to overcrowding.

In the U.S., not all prisons are run by the government.  Some are operated by private companies that the government pays to house prisoners.  The three largest companies are the Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group, and the Management and Training Corporation.  Operations of these prisons are handled by these companies instead of the government.

The first advantage is that public prisons would focus more on rehabilitation than private prisons because the government does not benefit from repeat offenders. Private prisons claim they can lower recidivism (reoffending) rates with state-of-the-art rehabilitation programs. However, according to Anita Mukherjee’s August 10, 2016, study in the Social Science Research Network, prisoners in Mississippi’s private prisons recidivated no less than public prisoners despite serving more time (Mukherjee 2016). Brian Kincade cites a study of recidivism rates in private prisons in Oklahoma in his March 23, 2016, article in Smart Asset that found private prisoners recidivated 4% more than their public counterparts (Kincade 2016). State of the art rehabilitation programs would cut into corporate profits and would interfere with the steady flow of incarcerations private prisons depend on to make a profit. Public prisons do not operate to make a profit.  They have more of an incentive to properly rehabilitate prisoners to lower crime rates.  Because with lower crime rates, the government saves money and society is overall safer. Now that I’ve discussed why rehabilitation will be focused on more, I’ll explain how prisoners will be properly treated.

The second advantage is that states would directly oversee the treatment of prisoners and ensure their rights are not abused. One example of prisoner mistreatment is the conditions that led to the recent closure of a GEO Group prison in Mississippi.  The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote about the conditions on their website on September 15th, 2016 (SPLC 2016). Department of Justice investigators found frequent sexual abuse, widespread violence, and that the prison was controlled by gangs with help from the guards. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves found the state was violating the rights of prisoners by not protecting them from the gang control and stated “the evidence…paints a picture of a facility struggling with disorder, periodic mayhem, and staff ineptitude which leads to perpetual danger of the inmates and staff”. These are not isolated incidents and issues like these are widespread in private prisons across the country. The federal government itself has stated that private prisons run less safely than public prisons.  An August 18th, 2016, article by Gwendolyn Wu published by TakePart cites that Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said that private prisons “compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities…they simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources…[and] they do not maintain the same level of safety or security.” (Wu 2016). States can provide better quality treatment to prisoners and can directly oversee that the rights that they guarantee the prisoners are not abused. Now that I’ve discussed how states will directly oversee that prisoners are treated properly; I’ll explain how ending the use of private prisons will not increase costs.

The third advantage is that states would not be taking on new (long-term) costs and in many cases, states would save money by ending their use of private prisons. On paper, many private prisons seem to have a lower per diem rate (per prisoner cost) than public prisons, however they aren’t paying for the same things that states must. In his 2016 article in the Fordham Urban Law Journal, Alex Friedmann lists the many ways private prisons offset their costs to the public in order for their per diem rate to appear lower than public prisons (Friedmann 2016). They tend to only house low-security healthy adult males, the least expensive type of prisoner to house.  This leaves the most expensive prisoners for the states to house. States still have to pay for medical care for prisoners in private prisons. Wages paid to prisoners in private prisons are reimbursed by the state.  In one year, the Corrections Corporation of America saved $30-66 million and the GEO Group saved $33-72 million from not paying prisoner wages. After adjusting for these factors and others, Alex Friedmann wrote in the same article that in many states private prisons were more expensive than public prisons (Friedmann 2016). States would be paying just as much if not less to house prisoners in their own prisons.  The only new cost they would be taking on would be the short-term cost of buying the private prisons that aren’t already being rented from the states. Now that I’ve explained how costs of prison operation will not increase, I’ll explain how ending the use of private prisons would force officials to rethink harsh laws that have contributed to overcrowding.

The fourth advantage is that by ending the use of private prisons, companies would no longer lobby for harsh punishments, forcing officials to reevaluate tough on crime laws to deal with overcrowding. Harsh penalties for non-violent offenders are the major causes of overcrowding. Michael Cohen cites many cases of private prison companies spending millions of dollars in campaign contributions and lobbying in his April 28th, 2015, article published in the Washington Post (Cohen 2016). The GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America have paid over $10 million in campaign contributions and over $25 million for lobbying. They lobby for laws that will punish non-violent offenders harshly and contribute to candidates who will vote for these laws and who will give the companies lucrative contracts. By eliminating the use of private prisons, government officials would no longer receive monetary incentives to harshly punish petty offenders.  Ending the use of private prisons to combat overcrowding would force lawmakers to reevaluate these severe penalties.

I’ve told you about four advantages of ending the use of private prisons; an increased focus on rehabilitation, better treatment of prisoners, similar or lower costs of operation, and a reevaluation of the harsh penalties that have contributed to overcrowding. With these advantages in mind, states should end their use of private prisons. The young man I mentioned at the beginning of my speech could’ve had a brighter future if he was housed in a public prison.  Instead of suffering debilitating brain damage, he would’ve been properly rehabilitated, and after serving his time he could’ve returned to the general public and contributed to society.

 

References

Barbaric private prison in Mississippi closes its doors after SPLC lawsuit. (2016, September 15). The Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved from https://www.splcenter.org

Cohen, Michael. (2015, April 28). How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com

Friedmann, Alex. (2016). Apples-to-fish: Public and private prison cost comparisons. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 42(2), 502-568. Retrieved from http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu

Gilna, Derek. (2016, September 6). GEO Texas immigration facility hit for substandard health care and understaffing. Prison Legal News. Retrieved from https://www.prisonlegalnews.org

Kincade, Brian. (2016, March 23). The economics of the American prison system. Smart Asset. Retrieved from https://smartasset.com

Mukherjee, Anita. (2016, August 10). Impacts of private prison contracting on inmate time served and recidivism. Social Science Research Network. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com

Wu, Gwendolyn. (2016, August 18). Activists to feds: closing private prisons won’t help most inmates. TakePart. Retrieved from http://www.takepart.com/

 

The Hipster Test

Effortless

Are you a Hipster?

 

 

Take this short questionnaire:

  1. Do you wish your dad or mom saved their clothes from the 60s/70s so you could wear them?
  2. Do you only listen to obscure bands and artists on vinyl?
  3. Do you visit a coffee shop more than three times a day?
  4. Do you wear the same brand of shoes you wore in 1996?
  5. Do you have any facial hair?
  6. Do you not shave your legs, but kind of wish you did?
  7. Do you wear a beanie?
  8. Have you eaten cauliflower or toast in the past 24 hours?
  9. Do you alternate ordering beer, cider and  kombucha?
  10. Does your 4-year-old have a half-shaved, half long-hair hair style?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, proceed.

The Art of the Aging Hipster

Too hip? Or too hip to care?

CHOICES:

 

Vans on. Vans off.

 

Where to shop.

 

  • Keep it local.
  • Bring your dog.
  • Drink a smoothie at the same time.
  • Where your sunglasses inside.
  • Reintroduce yourself to people you’ve met several times before.
  • Shop only at stores containing a woman’s name
  • Talk about how you only thrift these days.

 

Are you woke? (quiz forthcoming)

 

Always look behind you. Always hold the door open for everyone even if you have to stand there for a very long time. And always remember:

 

 

Lesson: Pronouns

 

As part of your email signature add any/all of the following:

 

she/hers

 

he/his

 

ze/zer

 

Pop Culture.

 

When in doubt, use the words you said when you were in 7th grade. If they aren’t in the vernacular at this moment, they might be next week.

Activity.

Spot the difference!

Have a suggestion for a question, photo or want to nominate a Hipster of the Year? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

5 Missoula Bands On Their Way To Being Household Names

Pearl Jam

It’s no secret to those of us in Missoula that we have a music scene with the potential to launch bands to the next level. With local claims to fame in Pearl Jam, The Decemberists, and The Lil Smokies, who’s to know who the next act to burst out of the local scene will be? Not me, but I have my suspicions. So, below are my top 5 Missoula bands (in alphabetical order) that are making moves to become national names.

Author’s Note: There are so many amazing acts in Missoula, it’s impossible to give them all the recognition they deserve. These are my opinions and my opinions only, based solely on interactions with and what I know about each group or individual.

Chloe Gendrow

Chloe Gendrow – photo by Ryan Schmitz, collage by Kamilla Varga

While on a bit of a (much deserved) hiatus after graduating from the University of Montana, the release of full-length album 22 Below, extensive touring, and being featured on the lineup for Pilgrimage Music Festival with names like The Killers, Foo Fighters, and Keith Urban- Gendrow certainly holds promise for becoming a leading lady in pop music.

Getting an early start on her career while still in school, Gendrow was featured on Missoula to Memphis, an album put out by UM’s student record label Switchback Records and the Entertainment Management (UMEM) program. Her cover of Elvis’s “And I Love You So” and a live performance at a Switchback Records Showcase caught the ears of many friends and advisors of both the label and UMEM program that have proved to be helpful connections.

The Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent – photo by Sara Diggins

The 7(ish) piece group that is The Fertile Crescent has had a big few months. In January they released their single “Onion Garden” on the same night that they filled The Top Hat to capacity. With LA-based management and connections to publicists in place, the band is already setting their sights onto bigger and better things.

The band has said to expect a full length album by summer, but what about larger Logjam Presents venues or a summer tour? This extremely driven group of students might just have the ambition and connections to do all that and more.

Letter B

Letter B – photo by Mikey Graef

With a full-length album and an EP under their belt and promises of new recorded music soon, Letter B has been carving a name for themselves in Missoula’s music scene for years, and it’s working. Not to mention that they’re touring machines- letting other cities know who they are, as well.

With multiple packed Top Hat shows, the band seems to have received more promotion from local giant Logjam Presents than a good amount of other local acts. With Logjam ranking in the top 100 promotors nationwide, this certainly doesn’t hurt. If my math is right, adding Letter B’s local power and continued heavy touring together could result in a major breakthrough for the band.

Norwell

Norwell

When listing popular Missoula bands or artists, Norwell may not be one of the first you’d think of. However, I dare you to make that same list without naming at least one other band that Norwell front man Brady Schwertfeger isn’t involved in. As Brady is a master of collaboration, a good amount of Norwell’s success is in working with other artists- including recording with Chloe Gendrow, Ira Wolf, and Maxy Dutcher.

Another local collaboration with UM’s Switchback Records placed Norwell and Ira’s cover of “I Hear A Symphony” in the hands of LA music professionals who chose to feature it on Falcon Music’s Motown Mixtape, on which the song has outperformed every other cut on the EP by tens of thousands of streams on Spotify.

TopHouse

TopHouse – photo via Logjam Presents

This folk trio has just recently moved from Missoula to Nashville and is doing the thing.

With gigs in the country music capital and dynamic content on their social media (think weekly podcast style vlogs and insane folk-stylized covers of songs like Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” or Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive”) someone with the power to blow these guys up could at any moment.

Honorable Mention: Dead Phones & Dogs

Dead Phones & Dogs

While only halfway Missoula-based, this Missoula/Chicago band deserves to be recognized for all they’re doing to get their path started. Within less than two months of releasing their first self-titled EP, they’re racking up streams just shy of 10,000 on two of their songs on Spotify, largely due to strategic playlisting.

Not bad for a band with 1,300 miles in between the two members.

A blog post for Marketing Analytics at the University of Montana by Aeriel Martens. Do you agree with my choices? Why or why not? Find me and @ me if you need to. <3

Reasons YOU Should Leave Montana

student exchange, college, student, college student, national student exchange, south carolina, cocks

Living in Montana is great, but, experiencing The University of South Carolina is by far the best thing you can do for yourself while in College. That is why I participated in the National Student Exchange Program last year and became a Carolina Gamecock for life.

And here’s why you should too:

You’ll make friends from all across the US, and beyond

You could study at one of the top (and more beautiful) business schools in the country, that may or may not take over a whole block.

You could have the best roommates in the world.

You can make weekend trips to Miami, DC, THE BEACH etc.

You’ll make business connections that will give you amazing internship or job opportunities that aren’t available in Montana.

You’ll get to experience SEC football and fantastic tailgates. GO GAMECOCKS.

And probably the most convincing aspect of leaving Montana…

1) Having an outdoor pool at your campus gym where you can swim in between classes. 2) Rooftop pool parties over the weekends.

If you somehow aren’t convinced yet (because I sure am), email Cheryl Minnick to find out more: cminnick@mso.umt.edu or learn more at: https://nse.org/

Forever to thee Carolina

Young Professionals in an Old Professional’s World

Skylar Vukasin

In order to succeed in business you need to secure a well-paying job; in order to land a well-paying job you need experience; in order to gain experience, a company must take a chance and hire the young college graduate.  It’s an age-old dilemma, yet somehow college graduates still end up being turned down by employers because they want someone with experience. We’ve all heard or asked the question,  “how am I supposed to get experience if no one hires me?”  

We’ve all heard the success stories, the ones our professors tell us about where graduates with bachelor’s degrees land jobs with some of the top companies in the nation. We all have similar potential and the education to obtain these same internships that lead to those hired positions, but not all of us will because there are only a few positions offered and thousands of students applying for them.

So, what do the people who don’t get the Google, Nike, Deloitte or KPMG internships (the ones that lead to a future hire) do to be noticed, seen or to simply stand out? When GPA’s don’t seem to matter and you already have a LinkedIn bio to tell people why you’re a great hire, how can we be top-notch and different?

For those of us who didn’t get the foot-in-the-door job/internship, what can we do to stand out in a world where experience is still the primary driving factor behind a job offer? We still have to fight for our place in the conference room. We still have to prove to our superiors, colleagues and future employers that we’re not just another one of “those millennials”. You know the ones I’m talking about – the lazy, know-it-all, millennials that also have no work ethic. In order to avoid some of those stereotypes, here are some tips from my own experience, as well as some of my peers, on how to stand out.

  1. Dress for success. The ever-expanding tech and startup world may allow for a more relaxed and casual dress code, but many companies still want their employees to look and act professionally.  
  2. Be confident, but not a know-it-all. Just because you understand technology and the internet does not make you smarter or better than your colleagues.
  3. Don’t overstate your accomplishments. You know what you are and aren’t capable of. Don’t say you’re an experienced website designer just because you’ve logged into the backend of a website once or twice.
  4. Learn from your older colleagues – after all, it is experience we’re after and they have it.
  5. Teach your colleagues what you know about technology and new trends. The more they can know and learn from you, the more they’ll trust and respect you.
  6. Challenge yourself. There’s a lot you still don’t know – be open to learning it.
  7. Speak up, but don’t overstep. This is a tricky one. This is a “know when to speak” kind of word of advice. Offer your ideas, because as obvious as it may seem, not everyone thinks like you and it may not have been thought of before.
  8. Never think something isn’t your responsibility because it wasn’t in your “job description”. Go above and beyond. It’s usually noticed, and if it’s not, at least you know you’re doing your absolute best.
  9. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Paving your way often leads to doing things for others to either fill time gaps or prove your worth, while this is great, know when to say no – you’re not everyone’s assistant.
  10. Ask questions. No one grows by doing the same thing all day, every day. Keep learning from those around you as well as other resources.
  11. Read. You hear it from your professors and guest speakers all the time. “The most successful people read every day”. Not only is reading one of the best ways to learn, but it’s also a way to calm down, decompress and take your eyes off a screen for a while. Additionally, reading for fun or leisure is much more enjoyable when there’s no school deadline attached to it.
  12. Make time for fun. Don’t get so caught up in trying to prove yourself that you forget about taking care of yourself. Enjoy your time off and make time for it. Burnout is popular among ambitious young professionals – work for a living, don’t live for work.

Your first “real job” is terrifying, but also an exciting opportunity. Establish that you deserve to be there and you are ready to handle any task that is thrown your way. Once you get through the door and have the job, it’s not all downhill from there. Quite the opposite actually, now it’s time to work your ass off. Good luck!