The Prison Industry
Worth Rises
Feb 1, 2021

Worth Rises publishes their report “The Prison Industry”. Here is information from the introduction:

“We are living in a watershed moment. In the wake of brutal police killings, people in more than 2,000 cities and towns, across all 50 states, have responded by demanding the defunding of the police and the abolition of the carceral state. To observers, and to those of us who have done this work for years, it is truly remarkable to hear abolition — a word that felt far from mainstream only months prior — discussed in forums, teach-ins, boardrooms, and media. In moments like this, one easily forgets the decades of work that shaped this moment.

But to do so would be to lose sight of the truth that meaningful victories are won not in days, but through generations of principled struggle. We stand on the shoulders of giants and their tireless work — Black, Brown, and Indigenous people like Angela Davis, George Jackson, Jalil Mutaquim, Assata Shakur, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Joy James, Michelle Alexander, and countless others.

If we are truly to abolish police and prisons, we must understand the systems we wish to destroy. The prison industry is comprised of a vast matrix of public-private partnerships that undergird the nation’s commitment to human caging and control. It is a seemingly amorphous system of more than 4,100 corporations, and their government conspirators, that profit from the incarceration of mothers, and fathers, and nieces, and cousins, and grandparents. It is a system built on bleeding people and communities of their resources, and then even further exploiting their devastation.

This report maps the twelve sectors of the prison industry and details the extraction of wealth from the families that have been most disproportionately brutalized by over-policing, mass criminalization, mass incarceration, and mass surveillance. This report details how the carceral state has metastasized with the help of the private sector across our economy and evolved to maintain systems of oppression in the face of shifting public opinion.

With this report, we hope to offer a blueprint for the constantly changing prison industry we seek to dismantle. In each chapter, we share the origin story of privatization for that sector, how much money is in it for the corporations involved, the methods they use to extract resources from public coffers and communities, which corporations are most active, and the harm they cause people, families, and communities. We also share powerful first-person narratives that are critical to understanding the impact privatization has had on people.

We must know where we came from to change the course of where we are going, especially as corporations and their correctional partners pivot to new forms of shackling, such as electronic monitoring and other forms of community surveillance, to profit from mass human control. By mapping the past and present, we hope that readers can imagine and design a better future because abolition, as the formidable geographer Ruth Wilson Gilmore reminds us, is not only about the dismantling of systems, but also about the visioning of what we collectively build in its place.

We hope this report in its conveyance of information serves as a tool in the dismantling of the prison industry and destruction of this wholly oppressive system; and that from there, we can create a world built on care not cages.”


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