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/

 

Be the One Everyone Wants to Meet

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By: Lia Sbisa

It’s no secret the power and benefits that networking has to offer. We’ve been told time and time again…or not, that creating a network of influential and successful people is crucial to one’s success. At a networking event, or just in a venue full of people, we all want to have that golden conversation with the biggest name in the room. It’s only natural to feel that the more people that know them, the more people they know. Your network does not stop with that one person, it extends to all of their networks as well.

As young adults making our way into the working world, and even those already well established in the workforce, it is important to make ourselves noticed and be the differentiator that radiates uniqueness. Be the person that everyone wants to network with at an event or even just at a casual get together.

 

  • Get Involved

 

Whether you’re seasoned in your extracurriculars or just starting out, being a part of something other than work or school is a great way to a) network and b) have something to bring to the table in an introductory conversation. The more you do, the more you will relate to a broader audience (not saying overload yourself).

 

  • You do not have to hold the highest or coolest position.

 

The status you hold within a company may help your networking reputation, but it does not solely dictate how marketable your other attributes may be. Just as we learn from those top notch professionals, they learn from us. Any influential being is on the lookout for more up and coming influential beings.

 

  • Take time to learn about your own experiences and learn to talk about them.

 

If you’re a college student or newly entering the workforce, become an expert on your experiences (internships, jobs, campus news, extracurriculars). Networking with older professionals can be intimidating, but much less tricky if you can relate to an experience even on the most minimum level. If you are more established in the workforce, know a little bit about a lot of things. Nothing is more attractive than being able to hold a thoughtful conversation over something that excites your audience, even if it may not be your cup of tea. This goes for anyone and everyone: READ THE NEWS. However you choose to keep up on current events, just do it, or start doing it if you do not. It is okay to admit that you do not know much about a topic, you become more interesting when you’re interested.

 

  • Be interested in who you’re talking to.

 

As previously stated, you become more interesting when you’re interested. Just a rule of thumb (whether you want to admit it or not), everyone loves to talk about themselves. Be able to relate to a few key topics during a conversation (talk about a travel destination that you have in common, ask about the company they work for and how they got to their position). People like you more when they think you like them just as much if not more.

 

  • Initiate a relationship that grows beyond your initial introduction.

 

Do not let the relationship end with the end of a conversation. If the conversation allows, briefly share your goals for your near future and give a rough timeline of where you’ll be in the next few months and express your interest in keeping in touch. Find common ground and set up a time to check in if you have established a relationship that will last longer than just one conversation. Grab a business card and follow up the conversation with an e-mail reminding whoever it is that you enjoyed their time and throw in your favorite topic from that conversation. 

Believe that you are worth meeting. Be interested. Involve yourself in things that you enjoy. Make people believe you’re worth meeting.

The Love Your Body Guide

As a young gal quickly making my way into the real world, I know that our bodies and our body happiness become even farther than the back burner priority in the midst of school, work, social time and the rest of life’s callings. Don’t mistake this as a way to get fit in 24 hours. As I have had to remind myself in the past, and still do to this day, body happiness should be a lifelong priority. No matter the order of your day or the necessities that make up your day, loving your body is for EVERY body. The root of happiness in all things is starting with how happy you feel about yourself. Try incorporating these few things into your daily chaos and watch every aspect of your days become happier.Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 8.53.23 PM

  1. DRINK WATER. Seeing this tip used to send my blood into a steaming boil. This is typically one of the first things that pops up on any list of changing anything about your body. But here’s the proven truth: water helps kick false hunger cravings, it clears skin all over your body and not just your face, it flushes your body of things it does not need, and it helps prevent headaches and poor digestion. Invest in a big water bottle that holds at least 32oz and plan on drinking half of your body weight in ounces (the bathroom visits will become less frequent very quickly, I promise).
  2. SLEEP. This would seem like a no brainer, but many people convince themselves that sleep is of lesser importance than other things happening in the day. I am definitely not suggesting 10-11 hours of sleep a night. Too much sleep is a thing and can work in the exact same way as no sleep. Try and bring your night to a close just 30 minutes earlier than normal. You may get those 30 minutes back the next morning to do anything you may not have gotten to the day before. 7-8 hours a night I promise you will increase your productivity and have much more energy, minus the purply black bags under your eyes.
  3. BE ACTIVE. Do not try and throw in a two hour sweat session. Being active is so much more than having a gym membership and forcing yourself to pretend like you know what you’re doing. Being active is making time each hour or two to move your legs and get your blood flowing. If it is possible, get up a little earlier and get in a 30 minute walk/jog/strength training. The point of being active goes beyond the six pack and sculpted arms and triggers endorphins that generate positive and happy energy throughout your body.Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 10.03.39 PM
  4. DO IT ALL…IN MODERATION. Add some greens into your meals and subtract something processed. Taking extreme measures to “be healthy” leads to relapses and frustration. 80% of what you eat effects not only your physical appearance, but how your body feels on the inside. Look to options that have little, pronounceable, or even no ingredients to guarantee pureness and freshness. But remember to treat yourself to that guilty pleasure just enough to satisfy that craving.
  5. SOCIALIZE. Even if it’s grabbing a coffee in the morning as you fly to work or class, surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good will encourage good choices and positive energy. If loving your body is tough, talk through your struggles without sounding like a broken record. Help yourself and others will find helping you much easier. Removing yourself from the stress of life’s chaotic priorities will help reinforce the importance of doing things that make you feel good.

Loving your body doesn’t mean it has to be in perfect shape or look better than everyone else. Loving your body breaks the outer appearance and reaches into appreciating the machine that carries you through each day. You only get one, let’s try and make it last until it just can’t stand the happiness any longer.

The First 5

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Five Steps To Take In The First Five Minutes Of Being Awake

Waking up with a full day ahead is a feeling very familiar to us. Sometimes there are not enough hours in the morning, let alone in the day to manage everything that is going on in our lives.  However, I have adjusted my morning routine in efforts to be a more positive, organized, and effective individual. I want to share this with you in hopes that you, too can wake up and feel ready to take on all the day has to bring. It has worked for me, and while I’m not saying every morning goes as planned, I have noticed an overall change in my attitude and productivity in work and life.  Not to mention my new-found love for mornings!

Here are 5 things to do in the first 5 minutes of waking up that will help you to have the best morning, and day, possible.

  1. Avoid your phone. This can be difficult because we are used to being “plugged in” during the waking hours but it’s imperative that you spend your first 2-5 minutes that you are awake with yourself. This gives you time to collect your thoughts, create goals for your day and be present in your surroundings. My suggestion is to place your phone somewhere out of reach, even if it is your alarm clock. Nothing great ever came from the snooze button.
  2. Ten deep breaths. It may sound cliche but this is not just a practice used to relieve stress or calm the nervous system. Taking deep breaths after a night of low and steady breathing will fill your cells with oxygen from head to toe and pull you out of that morning fog that will keeps you wanting to stay in bed.
  3. Drink a beverage. OJ, water, coffee, whatever. This will engage your system and encourage your body to start moving. A big glass of water is best in able to hydrate after not drinking water during sleeping hours. My go-to is hot water with lemon and honey.
  4. Open the front door and greet the world. Even if this involves putting on a coat (gasp!). If you are getting up early, there is a quietness and tranquility in the morning that is relaxing yet invigorating. Even if you’re not an early-riser, going outside and feeling the fresh air will be stimulating both physically and mentally. This helps to increase cognitive function and alertness.  Even if you only have 30 seconds, it will make a world of difference.
  5. Make your bed. Before you continue on to the process of beginning your day, make your bed. It takes less than a minute and helps you to start your day already accomplished, a small task to check off but a task nonetheless. Making your bed encourages a healthy sleep cycle by placing a barrier between your time spent sleeping and your time spent awake. An added bonus is the comfort that comes from getting into a freshly made bed at the end of the day.

No matter what kind of morning person you are, making some or all of these a part of your morning routine will significantly help you to feel invigorated,  yet relaxed in the mornings. I have listed them in order of my series and can testify that my mornings, and in turn, my days are much more productive and smooth than before I took these 5 minutes to myself. We are all busy in our own lives and it’s very important to our physical and mental health to take time to check in with our bodies.  If you have morning or other healthy life hacks to share please comment and lets share our tips to get everyone feeling good.

 

Happy Healthing,

Niki Bates

 

12 Things To Stop Saying To Retail Workers (Seriously)

 

All retail sales associates understand what it is like dealing with a variety of customers.  Some customers are nice and appreciative and you sincerely enjoy helping them.  Some customers are nice enough and they don’t particularly stand out in your mind – you don’t love them and you don’t hate them.  Then, there are those other customers – the people that make you wonder why you continue to show up each day.  These customers are the reason most sales associates speak fluent sarcasm and are at risk of their eyes getting stuck in the back of their head from rolling them so much.  People who say the following 12 statements fall into this customer category.

 “The customer is always right.”

confused 1

I promise you, you are not and this cliche makes us instantly hate you.

 “It’s not scanning, it must be free!”

um no

Do you think you are the first person to use this line? Do you think it has ever worked?

“Can you check in the backroom?”

eye roll

We are all very familiar with what is in the back so if we think what you are looking for is back there we will offer to check.

Bonus follow up question: “Can you double check anyway?”

Fine.  I will double check but just so you know I am going to take that time to eat a snack, talk about you with other associates, and cry a little.

“Wow, it’s really busy in here.”

duh

We hate you for making this observation.  We know it is busy.  We are already counting down the hours until we can leave.

“I need to return this.  I took the tag off and I don’t have the receipt.”

wwhet

We understand that stuff happens and most of the time it can be worked out.  But don’t start yelling when I have to put a discounted amount on a merchandise card.

“I spend a lot of money here.”

good for you

If you feel the need to tell a sales associate this you are probably an asshole.  And after saying this, you will probably not get your way.

Comes in 5 minutes before close. “I know you close soon.  I just need to grab some things.”

we hate you

I am sure you just need to grab some things and you aren’t about to leave 20 items in the fitting room and every table a mess.

“Wow, it must take forever to straighten all of this.” Proceeds to mess up the pile.

welp

As a matter of a fact it does – thank you for reminding me.  Also, acknowledging the fact that it takes forever does not give you a free pass to mess it up.

“This is cheaper at ______”

i really don't care

You can shop there then if you would like.

“I am never shopping here again.”

nobody cares

Your absence will brighten the store.

“Can I speak with your manager?”

excuse me

You aren’t scaring a sales associate when you say this.  Chances are the manager will agree with them and tell you the exact same thing.

“Well it was on the sale rack so I should get it on sale.”

are you serious

It doesn’t have a marked down price on it but you think you should get it on sale because you told us it was on the sale rack? Does this really make sense to customers?