3M, the company best known as the maker of Scotch tape, holds numerous contracts with prison systems. (Photo:anonphotography.com; Edited: LW / TO)Incarceration has become a big business in the US, which is now home to the world's largest prison population. Amid a growing dialogue about mass incarceration, the dubious ethics (and horrible track records) of private prisons have generated widespread outrage.
But the privatization of prison facilities by for-profit corporations is just the tip of the iceberg. Every aspect of incarceration provides an opportunity for someone to make a buck. State and federal governments spend billions to run prisons, jails and detention centers. Each one is like a small city, requiring infrastructure, services and upkeep -- all of which can be outsourced, including:
Design and construction of prisons;
Furniture, from guards' desks to the metal bunks prisoners sleep on;
Prisoners' medical and mental health care;