private industry
U.S. prisons and the struggle against slave labor
The headline seemed to herald a new day and was reported by corporate media as breaking news: “Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons.”

By Sara Flounders 

The new directive will impact only 22,000 federal prisoners — less than 1 percent of the 2.3 million people held in U.S. prisons. It will not significantly reduce the number of prisoners at the national, state or local level. 

The Department of Justice directive applies only to the Federal Prison Bureau. It does not apply to U.S. Homeland Security or federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisoners — the fastest-growing area of the private U.S. prison industry. In 2015 for-profit ICE prisons held 62 percent of all Homeland Security incarcerated immigrants.

As small as this change is in U.S. prison policy, it came only because of struggle by prisoners and by grass-roots activists. 

The recent directive will strengthen the struggle to end existing U.S. private prisons, even though only 13 privately run facilities are covered. The directive is also significant because it goes against the drive to privatize for profit every aspect of every institution in the public domain — including schools, hospitals, libraries, social services and parks.
Justice Department Plans to Stop Using Private Prisons | Mother Jones

Department of Justice will stop contracting with private prisons, the department announced Thursday morning. The decision comes a week after the DOJ inspector general released a damning report on the safety, security, and oversight of private prisons, which incarcerate 12 percent of federal inmates.

The announcement comes on the heels of a Mother Jones investigation of a private prison in Louisiana that found serious deficiencies in staffing and security. It also documented a higher rate of violence than the prison reported. Last week’s DOJ report found that private prisons are more violent than federal prisons.

As of December 2015, private prisons incarcerated about 22,600 federal inmates. The news of the DOJ’s decision prompted a quick downturn in stock prices for the two largest private prison companies.

DoJ says it will end private federal prisons

Six weeks after Mother Jones published its explosive undercover expose on the abuses, shortcomings and waste in America’s vast private prison system, the Department of Justice has issued a ban on renewal of federal private prison contracts (where they are not able to do this, officials are told to “substantially reduce” the scope of those contracts), with the goal of “reducing – and ultimately ending – our use of privately operated prisons.”

Shares in Corrections Corporation of America (CXW) and The Geo Group (GEO), the two largest private prison companies in America, have plummeted on the news.

However, the private prison industry has long been diversifying its activities, spreading out into domains where the people in their care have even fewer rights: halfway houses, electronic monitoring, mental health, and the “baby jails” where families awaiting deportation are jailed and subjected to horrific abuses.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates says that private prisons are deficient, and “do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security.”

States, counties and towns are also significant consumers of private prison services.

One of the last refuges of someone whose pet project or per theory has been exposed as economic nonsense is to say : “ Economics is all very well and good  but there are also non-economic values to consider…Of course there are non-economic values. In fact there are only non-economic values. Economics is not a value in and of itself.  Economics does not say that you should make the most money possible. Many professors of economics could themselves make more money  in private industry…Adam Smith the father of laissez-faire gave substantial sums of his own money to less fortunate people, Henry Thornton,  one of the leading monetary economists of the 19th century and a banker by trade regularly gave away more than half his annual income. The first public libraries in New York city were  not established
by government but by Entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie. The United States which has come to epitomize capitalism in the eyes of many people around the world is unique in having hundreds of colleges, hospitals, foundations, libraries, museums and other institutions created by the donations of private individuals, many of these being people  who earned money in the marketplace then devoted much of it-sometimes most of it-to helping others…The market as a mechanism for the allocation of scarce resources among alternative uses is one thing; what one chooses to do with the resulting wealth is another.
—  Thomas Sowell,  Basic Economics.
What do police do anyway?

Alright, not finished, just have to go to bed, but, roughly:

1. I’m a firm believer in the importance of understanding wtf something does and why it exists before proposing massive changes or abolition of the thing. Sometimes it turns out that we’ve all been trimming the ends off our hams because grandma had a small pan, sometimes it turns out the problem something was built to fix reappears when we tear it down.

2. It’s ok if you are unclear wtf cops do, because cops and policing experts are unclear on it too :D

3. So tomorrow I’m going to get up some stuff about revenge killing and why it’s bad for your society, the history of policing and how It’s different from the military and why that’s probably a good idea, how policing is part of the criminal justice system and why that’s probably a good thing, security vs police vs private investigators (the difference may surprise you!), and outline some sample policing/security/PI problems besides “somebody broke into my house and stole my TV and I’m stupid enough to think the thief still has it and that hiring people to locate that particular tv and steal it back is cheaper than just buying a new TV” and we can all put down our copies of Snow Crash and Jennifer Government and pick up Norse Sagas and the history of the Pinkertons instead!

“If you were a US leader, or an official of the National Security State, or a beneficiary of the private military and surveillance industries, why would you possibly want the war on terror to end ? That would be the worst thing that could happen. It’s that war that generates limitless power, impenetrable secrecy, an unquestioning citizenry, and massive profit.” .. (Glenn Greenwald)
DOJ To Allow Private Prison Contracts To Expire After Scathing Findings Released
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The private prison industry, by profiting off a socially skewed-criminal justice system, has been a real thorn in the side of many of us who actually think and vote with some empathy. Prisons by nature are prone to fostering abuse, misconduct and neglect. When you add the for-profit factor without the ‘job-crushing regulations,’ you have a frightening potential for horror stories, for people likely disadvantaged from the start.

Democrats often complained loudly during those midterm election years that President Obama isn’t doing enough to help those most in need. Too bad, in 2010 when so many people were so disappointed that the Democratic President didn’t move Heaven and Earth during those 24 total days where Congress was actually filibuster-proof Democratic.

Here we get to private prisons and the slippery slope they have provided in our country. Just a brief history: Private Prisons became a booming business in the mid 1980’s in direct response to a massive influx of prisoners due to the 'War on Drugs.’ Simply put, we didn’t have enough space for all the low level drug offenders. Hence, for-profit prisons.

The first major company to start accepting inmates was Corrections Corporation of America, which took over a facility in Tennessee. This was not well received by the public. In the decades that followed, the growth for this industry has exploded.

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Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or "substantially reduce" the contracts' scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is "reducing - and ultimately ending - our use of privately operated prisons."

So i got me a lil conspiracy theory in the making here.

I remember reading that fairly recently Hillary Clinton cut off all/most of her ties with the private prison industry this year. Originally i thought she was trying to publicly repent for being supported by the industry while still getting money from them under the table.

And now this federal law bill passes which hits the private prison industry super hard and capital is having a bad reaction. Its like Hillary knew when to get out.

If people have evidence to the contrary, by all means. And im on mobile atm so i cant really provide links. But hey what do you think.

Paul Mason: The parallels between Jeremy Corbyn and Michael Foot are almost all false

My first morning at the Labour party conference of 1980 had been as dire as my Marxist brain imagined. Then, after lunch, Tony Benn stood up. He promised to abolish the House of Lords, enact an industry bill “within days” of coming to power to take ownership of key private industries – and to return all powers ceded to Brussels. Even from high up in the balcony of the Blackpool Winter Gardens, I could see Benn’s eyes were on fire.

Three years later, Labour bombed in the 1983 general election. Its manifesto, though only a pale reflection of Benn’s leftwing programme, was dubbed “the longest suicide note in history”. Today, with a mass influx of left-leaning members and a slump in the polls, parallels with the early 1980s are being drawn. They are almost all false.

First, because we are at the other end of the neoliberal era, and as an economic model it is broken. Labour lost in 1979, and saw its membership almost halve because it had clung to a failing system – Keynesian economics – long after it ceased to work. All the momentum, in ideas, in broader society and among the elite, was towards the free-market, authoritarian project we now call Thatcherism. In that situation, to make traditional-left Keynesianism work, as Benn suggested, would have meant an all-out clash with both the market and the state. Labour’s poll ratings – which collapsed in Foot’s first year – were a signal that its electoral base was not up for that.

By contrast, today neoliberal capitalism is busted, discredited and on life support. The whey-faced remnants of “old Toryism” may have crowded around the cabinet table, but their free-market philosophy has come apart. The fact that people are flooding into a left-led Labour party, not out of it, is evidence of a search for answers among broad sections of the population.

The next most obvious difference is the absence of what we used to call the “industrial struggle”. It has been invigorating to see the Deliveroo drivers on wildcat strike, together with migrant hotel cleaners, train guards and junior doctors all in a single summer. But the leftism we carried with us into the Winter Gardens in 1980 had its origins in the syndicalism of ordinary workers in the 1970s. To the shop stewards I met in the years between Benn’s 1980 speech and the miners’ strike, Labour politics were a sideshow.

The unions had achieved control of many workplaces and – it seemed – could go on calling the shots. In the year Benn made his electrifying speech, the steelworkers’ union had just won a double-digit pay rise in an all-out strike. To the wider left, of shop stewards, feminists, black community activists, a group such as Militant – which had moulded its entire practice, and even its clothing to conform with the dreariness of internal Labour life – seemed irrelevant. Its claimed membership of 2,300 in 1981 – out of 348,000 - sounds about right.

Today, work is much less central to the left project, and for a variety of reasons. It is precarious, hard to organise. Also, the things the left wants to achieve have become more social, less industrial. There is, on the left, an implicit understanding of political philosopher Toni Negri’s claim: that the “factory” is now the whole of society, and the subject of change is everybody – especially the networked youth.

I do not recall many of the miners and engineers who fought for Tony Benn as deputy leader in 1981 being existentially devastated when he narrowly lost. They knew this was just a warm-up for the decisive battle, which would happen in barricaded pit villages four years later. This generation, by contrast, understands that the most revolutionary thing you can do to neoliberalism is to put a party in government that dismantles it.

And that, in turn, reflects another big difference: the rule of law is stronger now. Everybody involved in the Bennite movement sensed that Britain’s legal institutions were so weak, its police, security services and judiciary so politicised, its constitution so malleable, that the scenario in Chris Mullin’s novel A Very British Coup was not paranoia. Today, though the secret state is large, it is under much stronger legislative control. Should a leftwing Labour party come to power – either on its own or in coalition with left nationalists – it is likely to be able to govern relatively free of politicised sabotage from the state.

There are clear parallels, though. As with the SDP, there is a prospect that a few entitled Labour MPs will split, and that the media will get behind the narrative that they are the “true” Labour party. Disunity has already damaged Labour in the polls, just as it did with Michael Foot.

But the differences are what should make these, for the British left, days of hope.

Michael Foot was a dire leader not because he was too old or too leftwing (or wore a duffel coat), but because he was a compromise candidate, constantly torn between the interests of the unions – who were largely on the right – and the membership, which had moved left. His 1983 manifesto was actually well crafted, but they were the right ideas at the wrong time.

Whatever you think of Corbyn (I support him and will campaign to keep him as leader), today is the right time for the idea that neoliberalism is over; that the state should shape, control and sometimes suppress the market; that austerity is self-defeating; that more expeditionary warfare cannot put right the chaos and injustice Blair and Bush injected into the Middle East.

Once we had revived our local Labour ward in Sheffield in 1980, its monthly attendance rose from the 12 pensioners and councillors that had kept it alive under Callaghan to maybe 30, one-third of whom were Trotskyists or sympathisers of the Communist party. And that was it. We achieved stuff – above all in supporting Sheffield city council when it resisted cuts. But ultimately the social forces that were driving Thatcherism were stronger. Thatcherism was the main event.

The main event of 2016 – in England and Wales at least – is that 300,000 people have joined the Labour party. Sure, some of the same people are still around, including me, but it feels like a much bigger moment than the Benn insurgency. Anybody who thinks it is being driven, or “twisted”, by re-enactment groups from 20th-century Marxism is going to the wrong meetings.
Admitting Failed Experiment, DOJ to Phase Out Private Prisons
After years of documented human rights abuses by the private prison industry, the U.S.

After years of documented human rights abuses by the private prison industry, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is finally ending its use of privately-run, for-profit prisons, the Washington Post reports.

“With its announcement today, the Justice Department has made clear that the end of the Bureau of Prisons’ two-decade experiment with private prisons is finally in sight.”
—David Fathi, ACLU Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued a memo 

Thursday announcing that the federal government is ending its contracts with the private prison industry, days after the department’s Inspector General issued a damning report about the danger and abuse facing inmates in private federal prisons.

According to that report, about 22,660 inmates were living in federal private prisons as of December 2015.

“This is an important and groundbreaking decision,” said David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project. “With its announcement today, the Justice Department has made clear that the end of the Bureau of Prisons’ two-decade experiment with private prisons is finally in sight. The ACLU applauds today’s decision and calls on other agencies—both state and federal—to stop handing control of prisons to for-profit companies.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also applauded the decision in a press statement: “Our criminal justice system is broken and in need of major reforms. The Justice Department’s plan to end its use of private prisons is an important step in the right direction. It is exactly what I campaigned on as a candidate for president.”

“It is an international embarrassment that we put more people behind bars than any other country on earth,” Sanders added. “Due in large part to private prisons, incarceration has been a source of major profits to private corporations. Study after study after study has shown private prisons are not cheaper, they are not safer, and they do not provide better outcomes for either the prisoners or the state.”

In the memo, Yates wrote that in comparison to government-run facilities, private prisons “do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and […] they do not maintain the same level of safety and security.”

The Post reports that the memo “instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or ‘substantially reduce’ the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is 'reducing—and ultimately ending—our use of privately operated prisons.’”

“The fact of the matter is that private prisons don’t compare favorably to Bureau of Prisons facilities in terms of safety or security or services, and now with the decline in the federal prison population, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to do something about that,” Yates told the Post in an interview.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) lauded the decision but called on the government to go further, demanding it shutter privately-run detention centers for immigrants as well.

“The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement—whose civil immigration detention facilities form a far larger component of private prison contractors’ portfolios—must immediately follow the DOJ’s example,” CCR wrote in astatement. “Locking up immigrants, including families and children fleeing extreme violence in Central America, should not be a source of profit for huge corporations, particularly given private contractors’ terrible record providing inadequate medical and mental health care to dying immigrants.”

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would phase out its use of private prisons. While significant, the move will not put an end to the booming immigrant detention industry. Private prison companies will continue to receive millions in government contracts to detain unauthorized immigrants.

Even though private prison companies play a central role in the government’s immigration strategy, the financial dealings between the two are often opaque. In hispiece for the Washington Post, reporter Chico Harlan sheds light on one of these secretive arrangements, detailing a $1 billion deal between the Obama Administration and Corrections Corporation of America, also known as CCA, the largest private prison company in the country.

Under the deal, CCA was responsible for building and maintaining a large immigrant detention facility for women and children in South Texas; in an unusual arrangement, CCA is guaranteed payment for being at capacity regardless of how full the facility actually is.

The US Justice Department has announced they will be no longer using private prisons and are already no longer renewing and also now diminishing existing contracts.  Private Corrections industries are tanking on the stock market as of right now.

In the words of Uncle Joe, this is a big fucking deal.

Mars Space Station Could Pave Way for 1st Footsteps on Red Planet

Humanity may camp out for a year or so in Mars orbit to get ready for its epic first trek to the Red Planet’s surface.

The aerospace company Lockheed Martin recently proposed that NASA work with its international partners and private industry to set up a space station in Mars orbit by 2028. The astronauts working and living aboard this “Mars Base Camp” could help collect information that any future Red Planet explorer would need to know, the project’s developers say.

“Before we send people to the surface of Mars, we owe it to that crew, to ourselves, to understand if there’s life on the planet and if there’s anything that’s toxic to humans,” said Steve Bailey, the president and chief engineer of the Colorado-based company Deep Space Systems Inc. “This mission will do those two very fundamental things.” [The Search for Life on Mars (A Photo Timeline)]

Bailey and Steve Jolly, chief engineer for civil space at Lockheed Martin, discussed the Mars Base Camp idea July 27 during a presentation with NASA’s Future In-Space Operations (FISO) working group.

The Mars Base Camp plan

NASA is currently developing a capsule called Orion and the huge Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to get astronauts to Mars and other distant destinations.

Orion has flown once, on an uncrewed test flight in December 2014. The maiden flight of SLS is currently scheduled for late 2018, when the rocket will blast Orion on an unmanned, weeklong trip around the moon known as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1).

“SLS is about to become operational; Orion is about to become operational,” Bailey said. “What do we do with these vehicles? How do we best utilize those to get the highest bang for the buck for Mars science?" 

The answer, according to the Lockheed plan, is to build a 132-ton (120 metric tons) Red Planet space station, the core of which would be composed of two Orions and two habitat modules/science laboratories. (For comparison, the International Space Station weighs about 440 tons, or 400 metric tons.)

Mars Base Camp could support up to six astronauts, who would stay aboard for about a year. These crewmembers would ideally be career scientists who received astronaut training, rather than test pilots taught to do a little geology work, Jolly said.

"This is more like Jack Schmitt on Apollo 17 heading to Mars,” Jolly said, referring to the geologist on NASA’s last crewed moon mission in 1972. [Lunar Legacy: 45 Apollo Moon Mission Photos]

A year at Mars

Mars Base Camp crewmembers would be pretty busy. For example, Jolly said, they would likely analyze samples of Red Planet dirt and rock, poring over them for signs of past or present life. 

Such material would presumably be collected by NASA’s Mars 2020 rover and/or the European/Russian ExoMars rover, both of which are scheduled to launch in 2020. (There is currently no firm plan in place to get such samples off Mars and into orbit, however.)

From their lofty perch, the astronauts would also operate a dozen or so robotic “surface assets” — wheeled rovers, and perhaps also winged vehicles that would ply the Red Planet’s sky. (This gear would be ready and waiting for the astronauts to arrive, having been sent to Mars via SLS in 2026.) 

Such near-real-time robot control is not possible today, given the immense distance between Earth and Mars, and it could allow big discoveries to be made, Jolly said.

For instance, the robots could be sent to investigate transient phenomena on Mars, such as plumes of methane (a gas that may be a sign of life) or recurring slope lineae (RSL), intriguing dark streaks that occur seasonally and appear to be caused by liquid water.

“That’s really something we’re throwing out to the scientists — to imagine that you have this ability,” Jolly said.

The Base Camp crew would also get to do some exploring of their own. The Lockheed plan envisions astronauts making two- to three-week sorties to Phobos and Deimos, the two tiny moons of Mars, to collect samples and perform other science work.

Such exploration would likely be accomplished with the aid of long-legged “spider walkers,” which would provide stability in the microgravity environment, Bailey said. (Astronauts on Phobos and Deimos would feel just 0.04 percent the gravitational pull experienced here on Earth.)

Achievable and affordable?

Making Mars Base Camp happen doesn’t require any big technological leaps, Jolly said. The plan should be affordable as well, he added, given the amount of money NASA will spend in the near future in an attempt to get astronauts to Mars — the chief long-term goal of the agency’s human-spaceflight program.

“Between the $4 [billion] to $9 billion a year that NASA will spend on exploration missions — and that includes both EM stuff and, obviously, [the International] Space Station — then, over a 10- or 15- or 20-year period, they will have spent $50 to $80 billion in total expenditures,” Jolly said. (“EM stuff” refers to EM-1 and a series of other test flights involving Orion and SLS.)

Mars Base Camp would also stretch those dollars via reuse, Jolly said.

“We envision a series of missions using the same architecture, and the next one, or the one right after that, goes to the [Martian] surface,” he said. “We’re not ready to talk about that today, but we wanted to make sure that the community listening realizes this wasn’t a one-off concept.”

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on

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