Prison-industrial complex

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{{#badges: tobaccowiki}} The term Prison-industrial Complex refers to the privatization of correctional facilities. Prisons are both hugely expensive and at the same time very profitable, and as with military spending, the cost is public cost and the profits are private profits.

Writing for The Atlantic in December 1998, Eric Schlosser said that "The prison-industrial complex is not only a set of interest groups and institutions. It is also a state of mind. The lure of big money is corrupting the nation's criminal-justice system, replacing notions of public service with a drive for higher profits. The eagerness of elected officials to pass tough-on-crime legislation -- combined with their unwillingness to disclose the true costs of these laws -- has encouraged all sorts of financial improprieties."[1]

Government Agencies

Non-Governmental Entities

Prisons and tobacco

Tobacco companies sell cigarettes to prisons and prison stores (referred to as the "Institution market" or the "prisoner base"), and sometimes have contracts for these sales.[2] Apparently prisoners have successfully rebelled to control the types of brands they are offered.[3] In 1978 in Florida, prisons actually manufactured and packaged cigarettes, which were handed out free to inmates.[4] A similar situation was exposed in 1990 when in The lllinois Correctional Department was investigated for possible violation of federal tax laws by selling prisoner-made cigarettes without collecting excise tax. Prisoners at the Menard State Prison in downstate Chester were making brands called "Southern Lights" and "Pyramid," which sold for 35 cents a pack. A prison representative said the program was to designed to teach inmates good work habits they could use after their release. Another explanation was that the effort was designed to flood the prison with cheap cigarettes to undermine the value of black market cigarettes inside the prison system. [5]

In 1992, Lorillard Tobacco Company considered advertising cigarettes in a new magazine called "Prison Life." [6] In 1995, Philip Morris had a plan to incent prison stores to carry its "Alpine" brand by offering a "high-value incentive" gift, like weight lifting equipment, after 6 months of sales.[7] For marketing purposes, tobacco companies estimate the incidence of smoking in prisons is double that in the general population, with an estimate around 50%.[8][9]

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

Related Books

Australian Books

  • Bernie Matthews, Intractable: Hell Has a Name, Life Inside Australia's First Super-Max Prison (Macmillan, 2006). review



  1. Eric Schlosser The Prison-Industrial Complex The Atlantic, December, 1988
  2. J.A. Morris, R.J. Reynolds Miller & Hartman Prison Opportunity Letter. February 6, 1997. 1 page. Bates No. 518518359
  3. Mark Young, R.J. Reynolds Miller & Hartman/NY Prison System Salem Order Memorandum. November 14, 1997. Bates No. 518404330
  4. Bill Shields Free prison smokes may be snuffed out Gainesville, Florida Sun, published article, January 30, 1978. Tobacco Institute Florida collection Bates No. TIFL0059518/9519
  5. H. Wolinsky, Chicago Sun Times Tax Sleuths Take Aim at Prison-Made Cigarettes September 26, 1990. Bates No. TIILBC0015023
  6. Lorillard Prison Life Magazine November 11, 1992. Bates No. 92294449
  7. David Himmel Alpine Prison Program Memorandum. February 27, 1995. Bates No. 2045275535/5536
  8. T. Baylies, Lorillard Harley Cigarettes Prison Recommendation Memo. 2 pp. November 3, 1994 Bates No. 92060762/0763
  9. Lorillard Exhibit 1 Table/chart. 1 page. 1994. Bates No. 92060764

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