Volume , Number 0
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Vets for Peace
Lt. ehren Watada
Sharat g. Lin
Dorothy Ray Healey, Activist
Beyond Same-Sex Marriage
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Prisons For Fun And Profit
T he game Prison Tycoon , the newest release in the Tycoon PC game series, describes itself as follows: “ Prison Tycoon allows you to build and run your very own correctional facility from the comfort of your own home, on your PC. Control the layout of your prison buildings and the arrangement of the rooms and facilities within them. Place dormitories and cellblocks, mess halls and gymnasiums, but don’t expect to be able to build death row right away.”
Prison Tycoon would be just another in a string of relatively offensive video games (think Grand Theft Auto ) if it were farfetched fiction. Instead, Prison Tycoon is a reflection of one of the fastest growing and most nefarious legal industries in the United States.
As the game promises, “In Prison Tycoon , you’re at the ground floor of the country’s largest growth industry.” And that’s no lie. Real prison tycoons exist and they’re getting rich heading companies called Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE:CXW) and the GEO Group (NYSE:GGI). Yes, the NYSE logos mean you can buy and trade in prisons on the stock exchange.
George Zoley, the CEO of GEO Group, makes over $3.6 million a year in total compensation. CCA’s John Ferguson draws in just under $3 million in his role overseeing the country’s 5th largest prison system of over 62,000 prisoners.
Unfortunately, what’s good for prison tycoons isn’t nearly as good for the rest of us. Last summer the federal government announced that there were nearly 2.2 million people in prisons in the United States—almost twice as many as were imprisoned 10 years ago. In fact, while the United States has roughly 8 percent of the world’s total population, it incarcerates nearly 25 percent of the world’s imprisoned population.
Nationwide, the bulk of the newly incarcerated are young people of color, who have been convicted of nonviolent drug offenses, and immigrants who are being incarcerated under harsh new “coun terterrorism” laws and policies.
The Presbyterian Church, Uni ted Methodists, and all 48 Southern Catholic Bishops have criticized forprofit prisons as having a vested interest in incarceration. Beyond the moral dilemma posed by incarceration for profit, it is increasingly clear that forprofit prison operators produce more volatile and violent prisons.
Criminologist James Austin found that privatized prisons have 49 percent to 65 percent higher rates of violence against both inmates and guards. These effects largely come from costsaving measures implemented to ensure profits, such as cutting the number of guards and trimming programs for education and rehabilitation.
Last month, the Austin AmericanStatesman reported that the Corrections Corporation of America had received a contract from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to incarcerate detained immigrant families awaiting deportation in it’s Don T. Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas. The Hutto facility will be the second such “family prison” in the country.
Imprisoned immigrant families probably won’t be featured in the Prison Tycoon game. Instead, we’ll be treated with the other, less human side of the prison system in the U.S.—making big bucks operating prisons.
Bob Libal is cocoordinator of the grassroots leadership’s Not With Our Money campaign in Austin, Texas.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.