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Privatisation and prison profits

The Herald
Your Letters
December 01 2004

THE projection, rather than prediction, that Scotland's prison population could reach 10,000 within a decade really does give considerable cause for concern (November 27). To already have the highest per capita prison population in Europe, along with the worst health, highest number of teenage pregnancies, one of the worst hard-drug problems, homeless problems, murder rates, suicide rates, etc, is growing testimony to the bankruptcy of successive Tory and New Labour administrations.

What you failed to mention was the role of privatisation in the huge rise in the prison population. The current buzz words, "reform" and "modernisation," are euphemisms for privatisation, and it is the growing involvement of the private sector which is, in part, responsible for this rise. Private prisons are businesses run for profit. The more prisoners, the greater the profit. The greater the profit, the greater the growth in prison numbers.

The latest figure from the US is that an incredible 2,100,000 prisoners now languish in jails in the land of the free. Company executives lobby senators on getting tough on crime and this has affected sentencing policies over there.
Such projections, rather than predictions, must in some measure be based on the growing involvement of the private sector here.

Jim Aitken, 2 Carlton Street, Edinburgh.

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