Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why reform the prisons when they're working so well?

At Whitzerland, a discussion of privatized prisons based on a report by the Bureau of Justice Assistance:
The basic pros and cons of the argument are simple:

Pros Private Prisons: 1. provide construction as needed in order to reduce government debt. 2. produce facilities in half the time it takes the government. 3. provide economic devlopment. 4. create competition that lowers costs

Cons Private Prisons: 1. may become monopoly in the system through ingratiation, favortism. 2. have financial motivation that is opposite the end goal (i.e. production is the machine so they want to keep the parts working-inmates) 3. procurement is slow, inefficient and open to risk
That sounds like an argument for privatization to me, since all the cons (yes, even #2) are potential problems even in our current system.

Whatever. Whether privatizing prisons works or not, what I don't hear addressed in Whit's post is the question of purpose. So what if private prisons are slightly more efficient than public ones? The issue should be what private prisons are producing. Right now prison is really more like a criminal internship and/or rape-fest. That just doesn't seem to line up with my Christian vision of what internment should be about, namely, rehabilitation. Whit, what does that BJA have to say about that?

Please keep your compassion in a safe place where it can't hurt anyone

The first time Airbear and I went to Haiti, we were shocked by the strict standards for foreign adoption. The price was easy to understand: Haiti is ruled by corrupt politicians who are loathe to lose a major portion of their income by giving starving orphans families. That much made sense.

What didn't make sense was that the process was lengthened considerably by UNICEF's anti-adoption policy.
For children who cannot be raised by their own families, an appropriate alternative family environment should be sought in preference to institutional care which should be used only as a last resort and as a temporary measure. Inter-country adoption is one of a range of care options which may be open to children, and for individual children who cannot be placed in a permanent family setting in their countries of origin, it may indeed be the best solution. In each case, the best interests of the individual child must be the guiding principle in making a decision regarding adoption.
Now, that statement just sounds great. Best interests! Individual child! But wait. Wheresoever thou shalt stumble upon kind sentiment, beware the shadowy caveat that liest beneath:
Over the past 30 years, the number of families from wealthy countries wanting to adopt children from other countries has grown substantially. At the same time, lack of regulation and oversight, particularly in the countries of origin, coupled with the potential for financial gain, has spurred the growth of an industry around adoption, where profit, rather than the best interests of children, takes centre stage. Abuses include the sale and abduction of children, coercion of parents, and bribery.
What, you didn't know? You didn't hear about how the rash of dirty, profit-grubbing American dollars led to rampant sexual violence against kind little Haitian babies? Oh. Well neither did I. Neither did anybody. Because that never happened in Haiti, where a penchant for the macabre predated any spate of adoptions. Thankfully, the UN, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make the adoption process ridiculously difficult, because using that paragon of virtue that is the Haitian government to prolong and regulate the adoption process makes sure that any opportunistic greed-mongers will abandon their ventures in the private sector and...become bureaucrats! Yay! No more graft! Transparency!

Or, more accurately, policy that is literally insane:

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Mmm. Guido is worried about child trafficking. White hippie girl wants to keep kids in-country until they're old enough to return to their "communities."

You know, that reminds me of Michelle, one of the children at our orphanage. Michelle is legally too old to remain in an orphanage--they're supposed to cast you back into you're loving neighborhood of origin when you turn 15. The day after she was released into the wild she and her mother were found wailing at the orphanage gate, begging Pierre to take her back inside. I guess the local gang that controls Michelle's birth home in Cite Soleil decided that Michelle would make a pretty decent prostitute. After all why not, right? Michelle is young, inexperienced, naive. Easy to control and totally without any other means of providing for herself. The gang threatened Michelle's birth mother, telling her that she would be denied access to food unless she put her daughter on the street. They also helpfully informed her that they were going to do it either way, so the only real question was whether or not the poor woman wanted to starve to death.

I for one share Guido's carefully thought out concerns about sex trafficking and child slavery. I am deeply sympathetic to UNICEF's heartfelt commitment to "the best interests of the individual child." But I have this crazy feeling that maybe, just maybe, the elite, highly educated policy-crafting gurus at the United Nations should reconsider the wisdom of their oligarchic master-planning, and take a good long look at the legions of God-fearing, do-gooding, would-be adoptive parents living in America's heartland.

And then just get the hell out of the way.

Notes: Mike is the sole voice of reason in the video. Donate to his non-profit here and check out the trailer to his documentary here. And thanks to Neil for snagging this NBC clip and posting it on Facebook.