Imprison People Because Jobs and Taxes: Michigan Value?

Is it a Michigan Value to imprison people for profit?

Two Republican apologists complain that Gov. Whitmer is “killing jobs” by canceling the sale of a facility to a privately-owned, for-profit immigration prison company.

One reduced his complaint to a Twitter post, demanding Whitmer find 250 jobs for those who would have been employed. The other raised the usual Republican bogeyman catch-phrases in his newspaper column, and writes sympathetically about “a community that has been hit hard by Michigan’s shrinking prison population.”

He also quotes the town mayor’s concern: “The loss of the property tax revenue is significant.”

In short: these Republicans want to imprison more people because it creates jobs and raises tax revenue.

The columnist objects to Whitmer’s assertion that a for-profit prison for immigrants is contrary to Michigan’s Values. Of course, no one knows what Michigan’s Values are, so both Whitmer and the columnist can freely use that term to support their own positions and to criticize the other. But the columnist’s objection begs the question:

merlin_144320568_122dfc9a-667b-469c-81ae-9d01dbf97097-superjumboIs it a Michigan Value to imprison people for profit?

Is it a Michigan Value to create jobs without regard to what the job is doing to people?

There are a lot of unanswered questions about for-profit imprisonment.

Certainly we should question contracts which mandate a high “occupancy rate” to support the “profit per inmate per day” model.

We should question the increasing profitability of prison companies like ICA, GEO, and CoreCivic (formerly CCA).

We should question legislation and policies which call for increased imprisonment when those policies are advocated by lobbyists for a for-profit prison industry.

There’s money to be made, and there are jobs to be created, by imprisoning people. And there are many private, for-profit companies feeding at that trough.

Is that a Michigan Value?

Graphic credit: New York Times