The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Michigan budget:
Sending juveniles to hell

Nov 5, 2007

The Michigan legislature and Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, agreed to privatize juvenile justice services in order to cut the state budget.

This comes in the face of all the recent evidence showing that privatization of juvenile prisons increases the brutalization of children. Several states such as Maryland, Georgia, and Florida have closed down private juvenile facilities after scandals involving abuse and killings of teens at the facilities.

And why wouldn’t private facilities be worse? When a private company handles the same amount of money as a government agency, money is immediately skimmed off the top for profits. More goes to pay higher salaries to company executives. Private companies always spend more on administration than do public agencies.

This guarantees that there will be less money left over for food, housing, and medical care. It means the juvenile system will be shortstaffed, by those with fewer credentials making lower wages. Whatever one might say about the horrible conditions of the public prison system, a system that is already brutal and turns kids into monsters, the private system will only be worse.

That’s the choice Granholm and the legislature made. If you’re young and poor, that is where you will end up. Wealthy kids, of course, have all the political and social connections which guarantee they never get there.

So what can be concluded from this choice the politicians made?

1. Either they pay no attention to facts.

2. Or they have friends who expect to make a killing on the deal.

3. Or both.