“Your Home Is Your Prison”

“Your Home Is Your Prison” January 22, 2015

and charge them for it:

Beyond the physical and emotional burdens, those under monitoring often pay for their confinement in the most literal possible fashion. As Marissa Alexander discovered in Florida, private companies often exact fees from the people they’re imprisoning. They average around $10-$15 per day — in addition to installation costs and fees imposed for drug tests or other “services.” Those unable to pay may be re-incarcerated in a cycle that harkens back to debtor’s prison.

By the end of her sentence, Alexander will have spent $16,420 on her own imprisonment and constant surveillance. …

This phenomenon, dubbed “offender-funded probation” has recently become ever more popular. A 2014 report by Human Rights Watch revealed that 1,000 courts in at least 12 states now employ it in a twisted mix of budget-tightening, privatization, and corporatization. As author and organizer Kay Whitlock writes, “This industry is built upon disdain for poor and low-income people, and a determination that their wretchedly limited resources should not only support the illusion of administration of justice but simultaneously provide private business owners and courts with new revenue.”

With nearly four million people on probation in this country, what an increasingly “offender-funded” system would look like is coming into focus: state coffers would be filled with dollars from those with the most meager resources, while the threat of debtor’s prison would hang over the heads of those who don’t or simply can’t comply. In addition, despite their rhetoric about “correction” and “rehabilitation,” for-profit enterprises are actually driven by the distinctly for-profit urge to keep people in the system, while bringing in ever more of them.


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