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The Hinckley Journal of Politics

ing prevents many prisoners from being able to influence legislators or politically oppose privatization. Physical distance between most of the public and prisons is an obstacle to sight, but living next to a prison does not necessarily result in sympathy for prisoners. Political distance, or disenfranchising prisoners, eliminates a prisoner’s constitutional right to vote and hold politicians accountable to his/her interests. Overlooking prisoners’ existence by focusing on the economic aspects of privatization or using humor to dehumanize them creates linguistic distance between the general public and prisoners. When privatization advocates and beneficiaries speak about prison as a business and fail to mention prisoners, they distance themselves from the impact privatization has on humans. While making jokes about prison rape does not ignore prisoners’ existence, it creates distance from prisoners in an equally harmful way. Prison rape jokes trivialize a real problem and sexualize as well as objectify prisoners. These forms of distancing each create emotional distance from and dehumanize prisoners. Discussion Distancing in all its forms—physical, political, and linguistic—serves to create emotional apathy toward prisoners. These distancing tactics allow for corruption and sequestration to exist within prisons. In this way, prison privatization accurately reflects Pachirat’s theory of a politics of sight. Corruption within prisons can permanently alter a person’s life, as he/she has to live with the emotional and mental impacts of abuse. In extreme cases, like Darren Rainey, corruption can lead to inmates losing their lives. Corruption can also occur in prisons that are not privatized; however, privatization allows for more sequestration, as independent companies are not subject to the same regulation and scrutiny as federal and state governments are. The fact that companies were not held accountable for endangering Kat Jones, Tanya Yelvington, Regan Clarine, Darren Rainey, and countless other prisoners is inexcusable. The many individual prisoners that have suffered as a result of corruption suggests that privatization is not the answer to the U.S. problem of mass incarceration. Eliminating private companies from prisons is a warranted solution to problems of privatization. However, another potential solution is to create independent oversight committees for prisons. Advocates of establishing oversight committees are significant to Pachirat’s theory because they assume a solution with increased sight. Forming independent committees could create a politics of sight and begin to ensure companies are responsible for corruption and sequestration. Exposing corruption can have a variety of impacts depending on how it is exposed and in what context. J.D.’s story is especially powerful because it conjured the shock, horror, and pity that Pachirat theorizes is necessary to inspire transformation. J.D.’s story not only exposes what was wrong in WGYCF specifically, but it points to more widespread problems. Perhaps prison rape jokes and the passivity they tend to create contributed to officers’ inaction and failure to respond to J.D.’s requests. The public attitude that prison rape is part of the punishment, and not a crime, reveals the extent to which distancing tactics dehumanize prisoners. Reading J.D.’s story provides a nauseating reminder that prison rape is not funny, that prisoners are people, and that no human deserves to endure the real and horrific consequences that privatization can have. Increasing sight may not create immediate

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transformation within the U.S. prison system, but it is an essential step to improve prison conditions and end privatization. References Aman, A. C., & Greenhouse, C. J. (2015). Prison privatization and inmate labor in the global economy: Reframing the debate over private prisons. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from h p://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/ facpub/1574 American Friends Service Committee. (2012, February). Private prisons: The public’s problem. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from https://afsc.org/sites/afsc.civicactions.net/files/ documents/AFSC_Arizona_Prison_Report.pdf Beck, A. J., & Berzofsky, M. (2013, May). Sexual victimization in prisons and jails reported by inmates, 2011–12. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from Bureau of Justice Statistics website: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/svpjri1112. pdf Brown, J. K. (2014, May 17). Behind bars, a brutal and unexplained death. The Miami Herald. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/ community/miami-dade/article1964620.html Brown, J. K., & Klas, M. E. (2015, January 31). Former Florida prisons chief says Gov. Rick Scott ignored crisis in corrections system. The Miami Herald. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://www.miamiherald.com/ news/local/community/miami-dade/article8875121.html Burnett, J. (2012, April 24). Miss. prison operator out; Facility called 'cesspool'. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/2012/04/24/ 151276620/firm-leaves-miss-after-its-prison-is-called-cesspool Burnett, J. (2015, March 26). Closure of private prison forces Texas county to plug financial gap. National Public Radio. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2015/03/26/394918220/closure-of-private-prisonforces-texas-county-to-plug-financial-gap Canham, M. (2015, January 29). Two-pronged Utah prison debate: Moving it, locking up fewer drug users. The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://www.sltrib.com/home/2107364-155/two-prongedprison-debate-moving-it-locking Cheung, A. (2000). Prison privatization and the use of incarceration. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/media/publications/ the_sentencing_project_prison_privatization_and_use_of_incarceration_2000.pdf Clark, A. (2009, August 16). Why does popular culture treat prison rape as a joke? Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://www.alternet.org/story/141594/ why_does_popular_culture_treat_prison_rape_as_a_joke Cordner, S. (2015, May 8). Gov. Scott issues executive order aimed at reforming Florida’s prison system. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://news.wfsu. org/post/gov-scott-issues-executive-order-aimed-reforming-floridas-pris on-system Deitch, M., & Mushlin, M. B. (2006, January 4). What’s going on in our prisons? The New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://www.nytimes. com/2016/01/04/opinion/whats-going-on-in-our-prisons.html?_r=1 DePriest v. Walnut Grove Correctional Authority, (U.S. District Court Southern District of Mississippi Nov. 16, 2010). Engel, P. (2014, April 23). Watch how quickly The War on Drugs changed America’s prison population. Business Insider. Retrieved March 9, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-war-on-drugs-changed-

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Hinckley Journal 2017  

The Hinckley Journal of Politics is the only undergraduate-run journal of politics in the nation and strives to publish scholarly papers of...

Hinckley Journal 2017  

The Hinckley Journal of Politics is the only undergraduate-run journal of politics in the nation and strives to publish scholarly papers of...

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