When prisons are outsourced

Imagine being being locked in a small room with a man who has a violent history. A couple of people are watching from behind a reinforced-glass window as the man in the room starts beating you.

You pound on the window, pleading for help, but the people behind the glass just watch.

You fall to the ground and you feel your attacker’s feet kicking you in the ribs, slamming into your stomach, stomping on your head. Although some of your ribs are broken, you feel a wave of relief as he walks away.

But he’s only resting.

After he catches his breath, he resumes his attack, injuring you so badly that you’re bleeding under your skull. And yet the people behind the window just continue to watch.

You lose consciousness and remain in a coma for three days. You’re left with permanent brain damage and memory loss. Your brother says, “It’s almost like [your name here] is autistic after this. I feel like I’m talking to someone who’s 12 or 13 years old.”

You’re sent home from prison on a medical release. Your family is now responsible for your care and your medical bills. You’ll never be able to hold down a job or contribute to your community. Your life—and your family’s lives—will never be the same.

According to an Associated Press story, this actually happened to a man named Hanni Elabed, an inmate in an Idaho prison who was serving 2 to 12 years for robbery. Elabed had witnessed some drug trafficking in his cellblock, which he reported to prison staffers. Soon after, he was moved to solitary confinement for his own protection. But then he was deliberately put back in the cellblock with one of the men he’d accused.

Even more disturbing, this isn’t an isolated incident. And it gets worse. According to the story,

Lawsuits from inmates contend [that] … Corrections Corporation of America denies prisoners medical treatment as a way of covering up the assaults. They have dubbed the Idaho lockup “gladiator school” because it is so violent.

And what did Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison “company”  have to say for itself? That it was “highly disappointed and deeply concerned” over AP’s decision to release the videos.

Public release of the video poses an unnecessary security risk to our staff, the inmates entrusted to our care, and ultimately to the public,” the prison company said in a statement.

Are they kidding? CCA’s guards watch as the inmates who are “entrusted” to their care are brutally beaten—and all the company can say is that it’s “highly disappointed and deeply concerned” that the footage has been published?


It sickens me to think that my taxes are subsidizing such brutality. I’ll be writing my representatives in Congress today.

If you’re outraged by this story, I urge you to speak up too.

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