Profits of Punishment
Icarus Films • 52m
Directed by Catherine Scott • Documentary • 2001 • 52 minutes
Tough new sentencing laws across the U.S. are resulting in an influx of prisoners, creating massive overcrowding. Many States are responding to this crisis by contracting out the management and liability of prisoners to private multi-national corporations. The business of prisons has become a new, powerful industry. Recession proof, these companies, such as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., have seen record rises in their stock prices. In the era of 'Law and Order' and 'Zero Tolerance,' PROFITS OF PUNISHMENT explores a relationship between government and business that affects every American - the business of incarceration. Is this creating a market driven incentive to lock more people up and for longer periods of time? Are prisoners now commodities to be traded on the stock exchange? PROFITS OF PUNISHMENT looks at these questions, and critics of the system discuss why they feel governments are not looking more seriously for alternatives that might prevent crime and reduce prison populations. In Texas, we visit the assembly line in the Lockhart Work Facility, a private prison owned and managed by Wackenhut. This prison factory makes circuit boards for a company that closed its own plant - laying off its entire workforce - before reopening in Lockhart prison. We also follow the prison entrepreneurs to a giant prison convention, where salesmen market the latest prison products, such as portable restraint devices, stackable cells and the latest surveillance technology. The film contrasts this unusual world of business with scenes depicting prisoner's real life experiences, revealing the human cost of this brave new world of prisons for profit. Questions are raised after watching the film: How do these parallel and opposing universes affect each other? What happens to justice when...
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