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Political Economy of Justice

            According to the United States Declaration of Independence, 'all men are created equal.' However, by equality, it does not mean equal punishment for people who perform equal crimes. That is evident by the number of wealthy/influential citizens who continuously walk away from trial scot-free due to crafty legal maneuvering. As it stands, it does not pay to have the bourgeoisie locked up in prison, but it does pay the bourgeoisie to imprison proletariats. The reason for this is the social climate of U.S. society. When making the most amount of money possible is the most important goal of all involved, then society will never reach its self-imposed goal of equality for all.
             When asked what the purpose of the prison system is, many people will probably tell you: to lock up criminals, protect law-abiding citizens from dangerous ones, to deter crime, or some other variation. Although this is all true, what most do not understand or seem to think about is the revenue/productivity being produced by prisons of all forms – federal, state, local, and private. In Oregon, a company can lease a ten-convict work crew (living breathing human beings) for just $30 a day. With rates like that, instead of hiring workers, companies such as Nike, Microsoft, Victoria's Secret, and IBM contract laborers whom they pay less than minimum wage a majority of the time. The partnership between the government and these companies is mutually beneficial as the company sees an improvement in their bottom line and the government generates revenue from prisoners that cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars a year. As reported by NBC 11 news in Colorado in 2010, the U.S. Justice Department estimates that the U.S. imprisons around 2 million inmates throughout the country at a cost to taxpayers of $22,000 - $25,000 a year. The expenditure on housing inmates is higher than what someone making the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.

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