We have received an email from a reader, Rick, and are grateful he has agreed to allow us to publish it (please refer to the previous article):
‘Someone showed me the reports on the Incarceration Experiment, thanks to your reporters for publicizing what is going on. My girlfriend was planning to drive through that state on the way to visit relatives, but as she seems to think the speed limit is advice not a law and sometimes uses her cellphone or puts on make-up while driving, I’ve suggested to her that she takes an alternative route. If she gets caught and jailed, I don’t plan on taking on more work to keep her out of the ‘default’ conditions!
You didn’t mention it in the article, so maybe you don’t know, but in this state the government has changed the correctional system as well. They’ve done it to try and reduce costs as well, but in a completely different way. What they’ve done is set up a system in which sentenced prisoners are auctioned off to ‘corrections providers’. All existing prisoners are still held in state facilities, but the idea is that all new prisoners will be incarcerated by the organization that successfully bids to host them. It’s like when contractors put in bids to build new roads. They work out an amount, and whoever’s paying for it usually picks the lowest price bid that will do the job. Only here, they bid a weekly amount that they receive from the state for holding the prisoner. The only requirements are that the bidder has an active ‘incarceration license’ approved by the state, and that the conditions of incarceration meet minimum standards, like the hygiene conditions, access to healthcare, provision of food and drink, education, communication and visits.
It’s caused concern, because several dozen ‘incarceration licenses’ have already been awarded to companies that plan to imprison the inmates they successfully bid for in foreign prisons. A lot of people think they will undercut bids from local prisons, and that people will serve their sentences in third world hell-holes. This hasn’t happened much yet, but there have been about 30-40 people who are serving their sentences outside of the United States, in prisons in Asia and Mexico mainly. Maybe when the large prisons that are being built in countries like Kazakhstan are completed this number will go up. The labor is obviously cheaper over there, but even so, actually transporting the prisoners over there is expensive, so it will probably only make sense for inmates with long sentences.
There’s still a lot of people worried that convicts will be transported out of state though, and one incarceration-licensed business has already been set up to take advantage of that worry. They’re a cross between a private prison and an insurance company, they sell insurance to people in this state which guarantees that they will serve their sentences in the US, in the state, or locally, depending on how much they pay. The cost of the insurance obviously depends on factors like age, sex, where you live. And of course they don’t let anyone take out insurance if they have a pre-existing condition – in this case a recent arrest, charges pending or a criminal record. If you get sent to prison, they won’t necessarily directly bid to host you in one of their facilities, but may work with another bidder that complies with your insurance policy and help them to win by subsidizing their bid. This is helped by the open bidding process, that allows other bidders to see all the bids submitted so far, and to adjust their own. It’s a nice business opportunity, and I’ve taken out a policy, and so has my girlfriend, but not everyone can spare the money to pay the premiums.
I wish my cousin Sarah had been able to when she got in trouble, and I know she does too. She’s not a criminal really, just unlucky. She had split up with her boyfriend, and because they’d been together for a few years, things got a bit confusing. It wasn’t clear who was still paying for what, and as a result, she was caught driving without valid insurance, as the policy had gone unpaid the previous month. Unfortunately, she had a prior offense for petty theft from a shop when she was 17 (records are only wiped for under-16s in this state), so she got a jail sentence for this, 4 months. I thought it was really harsh, she’s 23 now and the previous offense is well behind her, and it’s understandable why she broke the law this time, it wasn’t intentional. But then I’m her cousin, and the folks on the jury aren’t, so that was it. She was devastated, and we were upset for her.
She didn’t have any insurance for any potential incarceration, so it was an open bid to imprison her. We didn’t want her to go to jail at all, but if she had to, we wanted her to get a prison locally. But we could only look on helpless as a company with a prison based 1800 miles away successfully bid for her. She wasn’t going to a foreign country, but it was unlikely that we would be able to visit her at all. The successful bids are announced in a large hall with benched seating, and her attorney informed her that the prison that had won the right to hold her was a charitable foundation rather than a private company. At first we thought that was good news, but he told us that it wasn’t. The foundation was a religious organization dedicated to ‘the moral reform of wayward young women’, and part of that was strict discipline including rigidly enforced rules on chastity. My poor cousin would be forced to wear a chastity belt for 4 months, among other tight restrictions on her.
Although it is difficult for me, her cousin, to think of her in that way, she is a young woman with sexual desires and needs, and to prevent her from sexual release for that long seemed very cruel to me. Sarah isn’t someone who is obsessed by sex, but the look on her face revealed that she quite naturally knew she would struggle with the prospect of chastity. It wasn’t dignified, but we understood when she expressed a desire to relieve herself before being taken into custody. The bidding administrator would finish declaring the successful bids in 10 minutes, but once sat down my cousin was forbidden from leaving the room. Worse, upon notification of the successful bid for each convict, they are required to place their hands on their heads to await receipt by the bidder. She pleaded with us to relieve her, and after some silent facial communication between me and my girlfriend, I nodded and indicated for her to do it.
It was clearly humiliating for Sarah to have her cousin’s girlfriend stroke and rub her pussy after subtly working her hand into first her pants and then her panties. It was also an increasing struggle to hide the effects on her face, and I did my best with the use of a tissue to conceal her face, trying to make it appear that I was wiping away tears or blowing her nose. It was a risky thing to do, if we had been discovered then my cousin and girlfriend would almost certainly have faced serious criminal charges. But somehow we got away with it. The guilt and the shame experienced by my cousin may have temporarily been balanced by a feeling that at least she had managed some sexual relief ahead of the difficult months in front of her, but realistically, we knew she’d still suffer. She doesn’t say anything to us in the letters she writes from prison, as it would be unwise to do so, but we can tell that she’s really struggling.
That’s just my family’s story of this system, it’s not a good one. My cousin shouldn’t have to go through that, and I would rather save or invest the money that the insurance costs me and my girlfriend. There are some good things about the system, it is saving money and there are some incentives for bidders to prevent re-offending, but like in your report before, a lot of people are being incarcerated in heartbreaking conditions.’