Want to learn more about the wide range of exploitative practices that come from mass incarceration? Start by visiting the Prison Profiteers action page. From the companies mentioned above to relatively recent innovations such as privatized bail bonds, to such age-old practices as civil asset forfeiture, the videos covering some of the worst ways people and politicians have found to prey upon the misery of others. As Brave New Foundation’s Jesse Lava explains, “The Prison Profiteers series illustrates how greed has become a major driver of mass incarceration—and how the system is more vast than most citizens imagine.”
More valuable still, it is a public education campaign that invites us to do something about it. “For-profit companies are making billions by exploiting our mass incarceration crisis,” said Vanita Gupta, director of the ACLU’s Center for Justice. “Over the next six weeks, we’ll be attacking their bottom lines. These companies need to know we’re watching.”
“Global Tel* Link. You have a collect call from: ‘Tim.’ An inmate in Shelby County Correctional Facility…. If you wish to accept and pay for this call, dial zero now.”
I don’t know how many times I heard the same robotic voice speak these words since last fall. I was researching the story of Timothy McKinney, a Memphis man facing his third death-penalty trial for the killing of an off-duty police officer in 1997. Tim would call from Shelby County Jail, to answer my questions and to do what anyone facing trial would want to do: air concerns about his case, vent. Sometimes he would call multiple times a week. Because the phone calls were limited to fifteen minutes at a time, a couple of times he hung up and called right back, so we could keep talking.
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