American RadioWorksDocumentariesAmericaPart of the Lock-Up Society

April 2002
Corrections Inc.
by John Biewen

The nation's swelling inmate population has turned imprisonment into a $50 billion-a-year industry. Those who've prospered along the way include corporations, prison guard unions, and police agencies. American RadioWorks correspondent John Biewen examines how some of those with vested interests help to shape who gets locked up and for how long.

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Inside the Corrections Industry

Asset Forfeiture: Fuel for the Drug War

Prison Guards' Union Backs Victims Rights

How Asset Forfeiture Works

Case Study: Wisconsin
See how one corporation benefits from its involvement with the American Legislative Council. (Will open new window)

The Story Behind "Corrections, Inc."
by correspondent John Biewen

Related Links
Printable Transcript

(Real Audio, 1 hour total)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

small photo PART I
Corporate-Sponsored Crime Laws
Some people point to the corrections industry and wonder: Is the industry serving the needs of inmates, or is it the other way around?  Read 
The Cops' Share
The war on drugs took off when police agencies got a new incentive to chase drug offenders: the ability to keep cash and vehicles seized in drug operations. Critics say asset forfeiture skews police priorities by giving them a monetary stake in the war on drugs.  Read 
small photo PART III
Turning the Key: California's Prison Guards
Like any big industry, corrections is a major employer. The majority of prison workers are guards. In California, the guards union has become one of the most powerful and politically aggressive interest groups in the state. The union gives new meaning to the job of keeping inmates behind bars.  Read 

Are you aware of other cases in which companies or interest groups help to keep the prisons full? Please share your comments, or read comments.


Hard Time  What impact has America's 30-year War on Crime had on communities and families?

America's Drug War  The fight against one of the world's most profitable industries.

Jailing the Mentally Ill  Why are so many mentally ill Americans behind bars?

Prison Diaries Five inmates, four correctional officers, and a judge kept audio journals for six months.
360 Degrees online documentary   |   All Things Considered coverage

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Host: Deborah Amos
Correspondent: John Biewen
Editor: Deborah George
Coordinating Producer: Sasha Aslanian
Mixing: Craig Thorson, Tom Mudge
Project Coordinator: Misha Quill

Production Assistance: Baris Gumus-Dawes, Seth Lind, Mark Holterhaus
Managing Editor: Stephen Smith
Executive Producer: Bill Buzenberg
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Online Producer: Emily Thompson

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