The Prison Industry

How It Works and Who Profits

A meticulous exposé of who profits from incarceration, culminating in a compelling case for abolition

“Many people are not familiar with the prison industry and few know the extent of its greed. This invisibility has protected the industry and its exploitative practices. It’s important that we expose it so that we can change it.” —Bianca Tylek, Worth Rises

Based on years of research by the criminal justice organization Worth Rises—best known for campaigns that have revolutionized prison telecom and made prison and jail communication free in cities and states around the country—The Prison Industry maps the range of ways in which private corporations, often with their government partners, make money off incarceration. It further details the gross extraction of wealth from incarcerated people and their families, who have been brutalized by overpolicing and mass criminalization.

Chapters on labor, telecom, healthcare, community corrections, and more explore the origin story of privatization for the prison sector and how much money is at stake for the corporations involved. Stretching far beyond private prisons to look at all beneficiaries of incarceration, the authors illuminate the methods used to extract resources from public coffers and communities, which corporations are most active and how they partner with governments, and the harms these profit-based approaches to justice cause people, families, and communities.

Ultimately, The Prison Industry makes a compelling case for dismantling the prison industry and prison abolition more broadly. It serves as a tool for the tearing down of our wholly oppressive carceral system—the ashes of which we can use to create a better world built on care, not cages.

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