Adam Ruins Prison

Nov 20 2016

Adam goes behind bars to reveal how corporations make money off of inmates, expose the myth of jail rehabilitation and illustrate why solitary confinement is akin to torture. Here are his sources.


“It definitely isn’t doing that. There are 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S., ten times more than fifty years ago.“

Report of The Sentencing Project to the United Nations Human Rights Committee: Regarding Racial Disparities in the United States Criminal Justice System. Washington: The Sentencing Project, 2013. Web.

“‘You just sell [prisons] like you were selling cars, or real estate, or hamburgers.’ - Tom Beasley, 1988.”

Larson, Erik. “Captive Company.” Inc. Mansuento Ventures, 1 Jun. 1988. Web.

“And they rake in a TON of scratch. Last year CCA took in one point seven BILLION dollars.”

2015 CCA Annual Report. Nashville: Corrections Corporation of America, 2016. Web.

“Sorry. The data shows they don’t. The sales pitch was wrong: private prisons cost taxpayers just as much as regular prisons.”

Oppel, Richard A. “Private Prisons Found to Offer Little in Savings.” New York Times. New York Times Company, 18 May 2011. Web.

“One study showed private prisons dole out twice as many infractions as government prisons.”

Mukherjee, Anita. “Impacts of Private Prison Contracting on Inmate Time Served and Recidivism.” University of Wisconsin - Madison School of Business, 10 Aug. 2016. Web.

“Last year, a private prison in Arizona didn’t meet their 97 percent capacity quota, so the state government had to pay them a $3 million fine.”

Ortega, Bob. “Arizona prison oversight lacking for private facilities.” The Arizona Republic. Gannett Company, 7 Aug. 2011. Web.

“In solitary, you’re kept alone for 23 hours a day in a room the size of the king-size bed.“

“Solitary Nation.” Prod./Dir. Dan Edge. Frontline. Public Broadcasting Station, 22 Apr. 2014. Web.

“Solitary Confinement was conceived by Quakers who thought prisoners would use the time to reflect and study the bible.“

Casella, Jean and James Ridgeway. Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement. New York: The New Press, 2016. Web.

“Humans are social animals. And a prolonged lack of social contact can cause serious and permanent brain damage!”

Gawande, Atul. “Hellhole.” New Yorker. Conde Nast, 30 Mar. 2009. Web.

“Solitary confinement is used so routinely in our prison system, it’s basically given to anyone the guards don’t want to deal with.”

“The Dangerous Overuse of Solitary Confinement in the United States.” New York: American Civil Liberties Union, 2014. Web.

“Solitary confinement is given to between 80 and a hundred thousand people a year.”

START: “80 and a hundred thousand”

CHYRON: The Guardian, Apr. 27, 2016.

“He was held in solitary for almost two years before his case was completely thrown out. He never even went to trial, but still suffered through solitary. After he was released, his family said he would just hole up in his room for days. He committed suicide.”

Gonnerman, Jennifer. “Kalief Browder Learned How to Commit Suicide on Rikers.” New Yorker. Conde Nast, 2 Jun. 2016. Web.

“Reading, writing, math, history, geography, physiology...”

Messemer, Jonathan E. “The Historical Practice of Correctional Education in the United States: A Review of the Literature.” International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 1.17 (2011): 91-100. Web.

“Since then, we’ve gone from 350 college-degree programs for people in prison across the country, to just 12!”

Zoukis, Christopher. “Pell Grants for Prisoners: New Bill Restores Hope of Reinstating College Programs.” Prison Legal News. Human Rights Defense Center, 31 Jul. 2015. Web.

“And good luck getting into the programs that do exist. The largest prison training program in the country has a waiting list of 10,000 people!”

Horwitz, Sari. “U.S. official says prison system’s best reentry program cut ‘dramatically.’” Washington Post. Nash Holdings LLC, 29 Oct. 2015. Web.

“But they actually have to pay for their own ankle monitors, and even incarceration fees.”

Stillman, Sarah. Get Out of Jail, Inc. New Yorker. Conde Nast, 23 Jun. 2014. Web.

“They can’t even find a place to live. They’re discriminated against by landlords and can be barred from public housing.”

Childress, Sarah. “Michelle Alexander: ‘A System of Racial and Social Control.’” Public Broadcasting Station, 29 Apr. 2014. Web.

“Yeah well it’s not just me. 60% of the prison population is made of up of people of color. Black men are six times more likely to be in prison than white men. Entire communities are stuck in this cycle.”

“America’s Disappeared Black Men.” Washington: The Sentencing Project, 2015. Web.

“Hi Emily. A few decades ago, after I got out of prison, I helped start a campaign called Ban the Box. It’s a movement to eliminate the “have you been convicted of a felony” box on job applications, and give everyone a fair shot at employment.”, 2016.

For More on This Topic

Shane Bauer’s undercover expose in Mother Jones about his time as a private prison guard is some of the most detailed reporting ever done on the subject.

Atul Gawande’s New Yorker feature on solitary confinement pushed the practice into the national spotlight in 2009.

This New York Times Magazine piece explores the prison system in Norway, which takes a far different approach than the United States and produces promising results.