This is a deeply unethical system and new research shows that, in addition to being disproportionately incarcerated, racial minorities and immigrants are disproportionately housed in private prisons. Looking at three states with some of the largest prison populations — California, Texas, and Arizona – graduate student Christopher Petrella reports that racial minorities are over-represented in private prisons by an additional 12%; his colleague, Josh Begley, put together [the above] infographic.
This means that, insofar as U.S. state governments are making an effort to rehabilitate the prison population, those efforts are disproportionately aimed at white inmates. Petrella argues that this translates into a public disinvestment in the lives of minorities and their communities.
Michaela Pommells, meanwhile, implicates the lack of transparency in privatized prisons:
On the political scale, any community backlash becomes irrelevant because public officials can play dumb considering that private prisons are not required to adhere to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). … Petrella points out that, “People of color are already over-represented in [public prisons] relative to their population share. Therefore, bringing transparency to the private prison industry would disproportionately benefit communities of color.”
(Image by Christopher Petrella and Josh Begley)