As would be expected in the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world, the US prison-industrial complex is large and powerful. Yet, the companies that gain from the explosion in jail and prison populations over the last few decades largely remain hidden in the shadows. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union, along with The Nation and Beyond Bars, began rolling out a series of short videos titled Prison Profiteers that promises to expose the workings of the prison-industrial complex.
The first video in the series—the only video released so far—addresses phone system monopolies that charge inmates’ families and friends exorbitant rates to communicate with their incarcerated loved ones. It is heartbreaking to watch nine year old Kenny Davis explain in the video that the high cost of a phone call prevents him from talking even once a week with his father, who it would take a four hour drive to visit in person.
Watch the video here.
While the video conveys the problem well, the political action suggested—the Federal Communication Commission imposing price caps on state and local jail and prison inmates’ in-state calls— is problematic. While expanding the FCC power will help address the immediate problem, it takes the liberty-precarious step of strengthening the US government’s bureaucracy.
Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.