Prisoners in paper(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)Last week I wrote about the private prison company The GEO Group and how allowing private businesses to operate prisons can affect our justice system, our laws and the fate of our prison population. This week, I will tackle the largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and its unprecedented proposal to buy prisons from money-strapped states, as well as how CCA has gamed the system with trips through the revolving door, self-dealing and influence peddling. Just to set the stage as to how large the prison population is in the United States: our prison population is the highest in the world; one out of 100 US residents are in prison. This number has grown dramatically since 1990, due to tighter crime laws and longer sentences. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), "Between 1970 and 2005, the number of people incarcerated in the United States grew by 700 percent. Today, the United States incarcerates approximately 2.3 million people."
Marijuana plant(Photo: Bob Doran) Last year, over 850,000 people in America were arrested for marijuana-related crimes. Despite public opinion, the medical community, and human rights experts all moving in favor of relaxing marijuana prohibition laws, little has changed in terms of policy. There have been many great books and articles detailing the history of the drug war. Part of America’s fixation with keeping the leafy green plant illegal is rooted in cultural and political clashes from the past. However, we at Republic Report think it’s worth showing that there are entrenched interest groups that are spending large sums of money to keep our broken drug laws on the books:
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