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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Energy Companies Pay Prisons to Cut Power During Heat Waves

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Amanda Warren

Another dumpy thing about Ohio, besides their increasing sinkhole problem, is the way they treat their prisoners. There are witness accounts of how privatization has dramatically changed typical jail time. Any major discomfort is acceptable as long as it turns a profit.

This recent absurdity may or may not have to do with privatization, but some signs say yes. As if the prison industry isn't bloated enough, ushering in recruits all the time with new laws waiting to be broken and using prisoners for slave labor (another form of outsourcing) -- Ohio's prisons are now accepting gobs of money to cut power at peak hours.

Most of the prisons in Ohio are in a program that takes money from KOREnergy that happily pays out to the prisons that switch to generator power when demand is most - like heat waves. Last week, temperatures in Ohio reached the high 90s, even surpassing those in Miami, Florida on some days.

Most Ohio prisons don't use air conditioning; but imagine fans, lights, televisions, and other devices being shut down for up to four hours in the afternoons during high heat? Fighting incidents increase during the summer as it is. Fights and the heat also put employees at risk, but is also just cruel and unusual - and unnecessary - to the inmates.

Ohio's ACLU is urging officials to stop accepting these payments. Unlikely, as they have already shored over $1.3 million over a three-year period - but ACLU cautions that the savings is not worth the risks to the people involved.

Mike Brickner, one ACLU director said:

No matter what amount of money it is, it does not excuse us from treating them humanely. And it also doesn’t excuse putting staff members in a possible dangerous situation.
One response often uttered at news like this is: "Good! They deserve it!" Lest, you feel the urge to join in out of fear and a "better them, than me" attitude - please remember that the U.S. leads the world in the prison industry and they are always looking for recruits. The most popular recruits are those who commit victimless "crimes." The same level of consciousness that seeks to punish also creates more crime and criminals - it would be a brave step to first stand up for prisoners facing this type of deprivation before we find ourselves facing the same situation.

Image Wikimedia Commons


Read other articles by Amanda Warren

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