In being private companies their prime motive for existing is to make a profit and therefore any claim of having the public inter- est at heart can of course be false (not that it’s necessarily true for state run prisons). In the search for profit, private prisons have no incentive to reduce prison populations and in fact would like to see their “market” grow – the more people locked up the more money they make! As well as this, the incentive to make profit means that corners are cut and conditions get worse, in order to save costs.
Prisoners are also used in many cases as cheap or even free labor for companies. Thus, prisons are becoming forced labor camps, not only making a profit from incarceration, but exploiting the labor of prisoners whilst they have their freedom taken from them.
It’s not only the prisoners who are being used to make a profit either. In the US prisons have been built in remote areas, which means that family members an other visitors need to travel a long distance to visit loved ones in prison. Once there they are forced to stay in hotel and shopping complexes near by, which is expen- sive. Thus, visiting prisoners is only possible for those who can afford it and then they are used to generate further profit.
As capitalism periodically enters phases of economic crisis, mega projects are often used as a way to soak up excess capital and to stimulate the economy again, often with the help of government investment. This is one of the arguments put forward for projects such as the airports in Notre Dame-des-Landes or Heathrow, as well as dams, high speed rail, TAv and also prisons. It is ar- gued that building such projects creates jobs, but these are often short term jobs in construction and the rest are often insecure and what David Graeber calls “bullshit jobs”.
Their arguments for such projects ultimately ring false and instead what really happens is they destroy our land, pollute our environment and repress us when we fight back, all in the name of short term growth and further extraction of wealth from the bottom to the top.