Private Prisons in the UK - Doesn't It Bother You? Watch

Cactus_Man
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The UK government has authorised a few private prisons since 1992, and I've read that it's considering turning many prisons over to the private sector, just as it's been considering the privatisation of other public functions. Doesn't this concern any of you?

Yes, yes: you're not a criminal, so why care? I get that. But it bothers the hell out of me because, living in the US, I'm familiar with how well that's been working out over here.

There has been at least one major incident (that's been found out) in which private prisons bribed judges to give unusually harsh sentences to people—specifically children in this case—and often for acts that weren't even against the law. The idea, of course, is that more people behind bars equates to more profits for the prison.

Then take the lobbying (that's yankspeak for "bribing") that private prison corporations have done for harsher laws. That's right: in the United States, private prison corporations are constantly bribing politicians for harsher laws so that more people can end up behind bars, and assuming backdoor deals haven't already been made (probably), it's just a matter of time before they finally get what they want.

This doesn't just apply to prisons, it applies to everything public, including transportation and such; however, I think that prisons are the best way of driving the point home as there are few things as disgusting as children spending a year behind bars when they didn't even commit a crime, or people being raped with no intervention from staff because extra security has been ruled an unnecessary, profit-reducing expense.

What do you think of this privatisation trend in the UK?
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Dirac Delta Function
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(Original post by Cactus_Man)
The UK government has authorised a few private prisons since 1992, and I've read that it's considering turning many prisons over to the private sector, just as it's been considering the privatisation of other public functions. Doesn't this concern any of you?

Yes, yes: you're not a criminal, so why care? I get that. But it bothers the hell out of me because, living in the US, I'm familiar with how well that's been working out over here.

There has been at least one major incident (that's been found out) in which private prisons bribed judges to give unusually harsh sentences to people—specifically children in this case—and often for acts that weren't even against the law. The idea, of course, is that more people behind bars equates to more profits for the prison.

Then take the lobbying (that's yankspeak for "bribing") that private prison corporations have done for harsher laws. That's right: in the United States, private prison corporations are constantly bribing politicians for harsher laws so that more people can end up behind bars, and assuming backdoor deals haven't already been made (probably), it's just a matter of time before they finally get what they want.

This doesn't just apply to prisons, it applies to everything public, including transportation and such; however, I think that prisons are the best way of driving the point home as there are few things as disgusting as children spending a year behind bars when they didn't even commit a crime, or people being raped with no intervention from staff because extra security has been ruled an unnecessary, profit-reducing expense.

What do you think of this privatisation trend in the UK?
Agree, it's just silly to privatise some things. It's not even like there are conventional market forces at play in this industry.
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Howard
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I think that instinctively I'd prefer to see prisons run exclusively by the State.

You're correct about the lobbying power of private prison providers in the USA. The passage in 13 states of the "three strikes" laws (life in prison after being convicted of three felonies), made it necessary to build 20 new federal prisons and in one of the most disturbing cases resulting from this measure a prisoner received three 25-year sentences for stealing a car and two bicycles. It may also help to explain why the US prison population has exploded from 300,000 in 1972 to 2 million today (the highest number of prisoners in any country in the world)

Fortunately the UK does not have a lobbying tradition that can be compared with the outright bribary and corruption seen in the US but you make a good point.
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Howard
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(Original post by Cactus_Man)
I know that the US has a worse bribery problem—they don't even bother to hide it, it's just done out in the open; in fact, the supreme court recently declared that corporations can donate unlimited money to candidates. However, as some journalists have pointed out (i.e. this well-written article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...on-titan-jails), the writing is on the wall: the problems seen in the US (and lived firsthand by countless victims) will take shape in the UK unless something is done. In fact, for some unfortunate Britons, the nightmare has already become reality.

I'm going to uni in the UK next year. I hope to perhaps even take up permanent residence. (Anywhere but the US!) But things like this concern me deeply, because if the UK is going to follow the US's lead on things, then there's really no point in moving to the UK at all. I don't want to see the United Kingdom become like the United States!
I think you'll find the UK a bit of a disapointment. Don't get your expectations up too much.

But it won't ever get to being that much like the US in this regard as Parliament is bound by some extremely powerful EU Human Rights Legislation which is very unlikely to be overturned unless the UK leaves the EU which isn't going to happen. That's really why lobbyists don't do so well in the UK - you simply can't get some legislation out of the starting blocks.
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L i b
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(Original post by Howard)
But it won't ever get to being that much like the US in this regard as Parliament is bound by some extremely powerful EU Human Rights Legislation
Actually, Parliament isn't bound by any EU human rights legislation.

If you ask me, this stuff hasn't happened as Britain has a more automated political system: ie, Ministers tend to back things more on 'evidence' (read: what civil servants, officials and panels of 'experts' tell them to do) rather than on gut instinct of ideology. Lobbying just isn't as effective here.
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Howard
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(Original post by L i b)
Actually, Parliament isn't bound by any EU human rights legislation.

If you ask me, this stuff hasn't happened as Britain has a more automated political system: ie, Ministers tend to back things more on 'evidence' (read: what civil servants, officials and panels of 'experts' tell them to do) rather than on gut instinct of ideology. Lobbying just isn't as effective here.
Well, whatever. But the HRA aim is to "give further effect" in UK law to the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. So I can't see it going away. It's a powerful Act and I'm lawyers that specialise in it would have something to say about not being able to unduly extend prison sentences so inmates can do unlimited manual labour (which is what private prisons groups in the US have lobbied for)
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L i b
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(Original post by Howard)
Well, whatever. But the HRA aim is to "give further effect" in UK law to the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. So I can't see it going away. It's a powerful Act and I'm lawyers that specialise in it would have something to say about not being able to unduly extend prison sentences so inmates can do unlimited manual labour (which is what private prisons groups in the US have lobbied for)
We've come somewhat closer to the idea of unlimited detention in the UK in recent years, despite the HRA. But yes, the idea that anyone would listen to a prison corporation on sentencing in the UK would seem... well, barmy.

My main point in that regard though was that the ECHR, despite having 'European' in its title, has nothing to do with the EU. It is a stand-alone treaty, which is not limited to EU members or in any way otherwise connected with the EU.
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Oswy
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(Original post by Cactus_Man)
The UK government has authorised a few private prisons since 1992, and I've read that it's considering turning many prisons over to the private sector, just as it's been considering the privatisation of other public functions. Doesn't this concern any of you?

Yes, yes: you're not a criminal, so why care? I get that. But it bothers the hell out of me because, living in the US, I'm familiar with how well that's been working out over here.

There has been at least one major incident (that's been found out) in which private prisons bribed judges to give unusually harsh sentences to people—specifically children in this case—and often for acts that weren't even against the law. The idea, of course, is that more people behind bars equates to more profits for the prison.

Then take the lobbying (that's yankspeak for "bribing") that private prison corporations have done for harsher laws. That's right: in the United States, private prison corporations are constantly bribing politicians for harsher laws so that more people can end up behind bars, and assuming backdoor deals haven't already been made (probably), it's just a matter of time before they finally get what they want.

This doesn't just apply to prisons, it applies to everything public, including transportation and such; however, I think that prisons are the best way of driving the point home as there are few things as disgusting as children spending a year behind bars when they didn't even commit a crime, or people being raped with no intervention from staff because extra security has been ruled an unnecessary, profit-reducing expense.

What do you think of this privatisation trend in the UK?
As per the 'surplus capital absorption problem' inherent in capitalism we're likely to see ever stronger attempts by capitalist enterprises to take over processes that would otherwise seem inappropriate. The wholesale privatisation of the prison service may not be on the cards in the immediate future but, like other sectors, health and education among them, every possible avenue for the colonisation by capitalism will be relentlessly pursued. Isn't the process by which prisoners are conveyed to and from courts and prisons now completely privatised?
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adam_zed
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(Original post by Howard)
I think you'll find the UK a bit of a disapointment. Don't get your expectations up too much.

But it won't ever get to being that much like the US in this regard as Parliament is bound by some extremely powerful EU Human Rights Legislation which is very unlikely to be overturned unless the UK leaves the EU which isn't going to happen. That's really why lobbyists don't do so well in the UK - you simply can't get some legislation out of the starting blocks.
I dont think we are bound by the EU convention on human rights. Human Rights Act of 1998 just puts forward certain clauses that try to make MPs at least consider relevant EU decisions.
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AnarchistNutter
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(Original post by Cactus_Man)
I'm going to uni in the UK next year. I hope to perhaps even take up permanent residence. (Anywhere but the US!) But things like this concern me deeply, because if the UK is going to follow the US's lead on things, then there's really no point in moving to the UK at all. I don't want to see the United Kingdom become like the United States!
I have to be honest with you, under this new Conservative government Britain will inevitably take a turn for the right however socialist policies are stronger in this country than the US, in my opinion, so I don't think we'll be heading towards a free market economy any time soon. The way it usually works is that Conservative will be in for 5-10 years followed by Labour for 5-10 years, etc. Much like with the Democrats/Republicans. So the future won't be too gloomy, I hope.

I don't think the prison service will become privatised anytime soon either.
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Annora
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Yes, it does bother me. I don't want to see the privatisation of prisons. Prisons should not be a place run for monetary profit.
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