Somehow, a new law has sailed through the legislature having as its only objective to increase the number of people sent to prison for relatively minor offenses. To make felonies out of misdemeanors, in other words.
But maybe there’s a method to the madness.
The “prison industrial complex” idea has always struck me as outrageous, in that it seems that it should be a fanciful rant dressed up as an argument; but at the same time disturbing, because it fits reality far better than I would like to think it possibly could:
As the prison population grows, a rising rate of incarceration feeds small and large businesses such as providers of furniture, transportation, food, clothes and medical services, construction and communication firms. Prison activists who buttress the notion of a prison industrial complex have argued that these parties have a great interest in the expansion of the prison system since their development and prosperity directly depends on the number of inmates. They liken the prison industrial complex to any industry that needs more and more raw materials, prisoners being the material.
The new “law” is counter to the explicit national trend – that is, on the surface we appear to be looking for ways to reduce prison populations, which every reasonable person believes have gotten out of hand – but consistent with an entrenched group of interests that frequently find favor with political institutions because of superior organization and tightly focused goals.
This so-called law is Exhibit “A” in the prison-industrial complex scenario, then. A healthy press would be all over this, finding out who was lobbying for it and who the interested parties are. But never mind. We have the press we have, 1st amendment or no.