lot of people might not know this, but there are a lot of state prisons that
are run by private business owners instead of the government. The government pays these businesses to house,
feed, and rehabilitate inmates instead of the government doing all the work. The decision to do so is understandable as the
problem of inmate overpopulation rises. However,
as Captain Alexis Fecteau notes, some privatized prisons are to blame for
helping create the problem in the first place.
main focus of a correctional facility isn’t simply to house inmates until their
time of release. Their main objective
should be rehabilitating inmates so that when they get out, they would be able
to find jobs and stay away from repeating offenses. And this would pose a problem for private
prisons. For private prisons, there is an
incentive for not rehabilitating inmates properly. If the inmate bounces back to a life of crime,
it would better suit their needs as a business, states Captain Alexis Fecteau. This is why some privatized state prisons
have business models that rely on inmates going back to prison upon release.
prison’s purpose is to protect the public from criminals, rehabilitating
inmates, and punishing them for the crimes they committed. Private prisons claim that they can do these
three points better when clearly, they don’t have any incentive to do so. In fact, given that they are being run as a
business, they tend to perform worse than government-run state prisons.
prisons can freely cut back on key spending to increase their profit margin. They can make cuts from medical supplies,
security staff, even the food that inmates eat can be affected, adds Captain Alexis Fecteau. This has led to subhuman conditions in some
state prisons. For example, some private
prisons chose to turn off the heating systems in the inmates’ quarters,
practically leaving them inside freezing cells.
some prisons in developed European countries are shutting down because of low
inmate numbers, the land of the free is suffering from having the highest
inmate population on the planet. And
while private companies such as the GEO Group and CoreCivic have offered their
services to the government to help house and rehabilitate inmates, their impact
is yet to be felt. Include the fact that
the government now insists on mandatory minimums and its crackdown on illegal
immigrants, this problem will only get worse. According to Captain Alexis Fecteau, until the
government finds a better way of rehabilitating inmates and eliminate its
reliance on private prisons, this problem will continue to plague the country.
While America is often called Land of the Free, it is also the country
that has the highest incarcerated population in the world. Multiple factors contribute to this fact. For
example, many people from poverty-stricken backgrounds often go to jail because
they lack resources to post bail or fight their case. Instead, they get stuck in jail until the
court takes action. According to Captain Alexis
Fecteau, there is also the problem of rehabilitation not
really working in some prisons. Improper
rehabilitation could result in released inmates ending up back inside.
primary reason why America is suffering from having too many people behind bars
stems from juvenile sentencing. As of
2016, over 12,000 people were serving a life sentence that was given to
underaged offenders. The number consists
of youth who are serving life without parole, life with parole, and those who are
incarcerated for 50 years or more. This
means that a youth who has committed a grave crime who hasn’t fully developed
mentally is tried as an adult and given adult sentencing.
Alexis Fecteau states that a further look into imprisoned youth in the U.S.
tells, or rather, supports the idea that there is a great disparity when it
comes to race and ethnicity. The
criminal justice system has always been marred with problems when it comes to
the arrest and charging of criminals, mainly blacks and non-white criminals. The justice system in charge of sentencing
criminal youth faces the same problem. Over
80% of youth who are serving life sentences are of color, 50% of which are of
African American descent. This is
extremely apparent in states such as California, New York, and Texas, notes
Captain Alexis Fecteau.
some states are carrying out reforms that grant parole boards the authority to consider
the age of the felon at the time when they committed their crime as a factor
when assessing their readiness for release. Unfortunately, most states aren’t required to
do so during parole hearings. So far,
California and Missouri are the two exceptions.
California, parole boards are required to give great weight to a juvenile’s age
when defining culpability compared to adults who are being tried for crimes.
The parole board must also take into consideration subsequent growth and
development of these jailed juveniles as they mature inside the penitentiary
system. According to Captain Alexis
Fecteau, if more states were to make such reforms, perhaps the problem of
overpopulated state prisons would be eased.
Fecteau has been researching and learning about all things criminal
justice. One of the more intriguing
topics he has come across is the mass incarceration problem that the District
of Columbia is currently facing.
the bigger picture, the U.S. has over 2 million people in correctional
facilities, which is roughly 25% of the world’s prison population. It is a huge number, especially when one
considers that the U.S. accounts for only 4% of the world’s population. It is undoubtedly a sign of a mass incarceration
been public debates in D.C. on the issue.
The first notable one, according to Captain Alexis
Fecteau, explores the legislation that seeks to reduce
sentences for convicted individuals under the age of 25. On the outside looking in, the existence of
said legislation does beg for an investigation on the level of incarceration in
D.C. The Sentencing Project, a movement
that seeks to make a difference in mass incarceration, has found that for every
100,000 people living in D.C., 930 are incarcerated. This number puts D.C. in fourth place when it
comes to incarceration rates in the U.S., compared to other states.
In September 2019,
the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for D.C. denied the figure put forth by The
Sentencing Project, noting that the incarceration rate in the area was only a
third of the numbers presented. The USAO
further stated that D.C.’s incarceration rate was actually lower than most
states’. And Captain Alexis Fecteau
finds this interesting, especially if the USAO is right and the numbers vastly
overshoot the actual representation.
On The Sentencing
Project’s end, the movement has since supported the Second Look Amendment Act
of 2019. The present law of D.C. allows
convicted felons younger than 18 who received a sentence of over 15 years, to
have their sentence re-examined once a part of their sentence has been
served. The Second Look Amendment Act of
2019 would raise the age of those convicted from 18 to 25. The Sentencing Project believes that this new
bill would give more people second chances to make something out of their lives
in society. Another important fact to
consider, which Captain Alexis Fecteau is also hopeful for, is that those
convicted change into more productive and responsible members of society, and
as such will not pose a threat to the public.