A recent study showed that the state of New York spends more money incarcerating people than it would cost to send them to an Ivy League University. Prisons are big business and big money for those who are able to benefit, and the cost is huge for black, brown and poor people across America.
A recent story highlights the abuses that occur at the hands of those who benefit from mass incarceration. A nurse at a prison in Connecticut was revealed to have earned $630,000 in overtime in less than five years. She even put on her time cards that she worked for 192 days straight, with many of her shifts being over 16 hours a day, according to The Journal News.
The nurse earned more overtime than anyone else in the state, and took home an extra $150,630 in addition to her salary of $58,468. She was employed by the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women.
Her designated work schedule was from 3 pm until 11 pm, but she usually claimed that she was at work until 7:30 am the next morning, without taking a single break. She worked more than 90% of the available days between December 18, 2008 and September 4, 2013.
“She must have been the bionic nurse in her time to be able to work that many hours without any rest,” said Democratic state Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx.
“The time of giving state agencies a blank check has to end.”
Mathews is doing quite well for herself. She lives in a home that is worth $443,000
1) The prison industrial complex, similar to slavery, is one of the biggest economic booms for the American economy. What happens when economic incentives have become so warped is that the state then starts to find reasons to send people to prison for even the tiniest offense. This is why there are thousands of black and brown people in prison right now for marijuana possession, even though companies are now making money selling legal pot. Releasing everyone who is in prison unjustly would lead to a huge financial hit for those who’ve become addicted to this cash cow.
2) One of the reasons that these abuses continue to occur is because the prison system doesn’t have very much independent oversight. This results in very serious abuses of taxpayer resources, and also the abuse of inmates and their families. Those who’ve been affected by the system know of these abuses all too well. While there is certainly room for punishment and rehabilitation of those who make poor choices in our society, the prison system only makes our society more dangerous by making people worse than they were when they arrived to the facility in the first place.
3) The fact that the state of New York spends more money in one year to incarcerate an inmate than it would cost to send them to Harvard for four years is the financial version of severe mental illness. Only a society that is truly sick would spend so much more money locking people up than educating them. This is clearly connected to the fact that American children are being severely outpaced by the rest of the world in terms of educational achievement. America’s capitalist addictions, as well as its commitment to mass incarceration, will likely be among the key factors that lead to our nation’s inevitable decline over the next 50 years.