Monday, February 6, 2012

Israel outlaws private prisons as violations of human rights

There really is something a stomach-turning about making money off the imprisonment of human beings. It seems to us that it's an inherently governmental function that shouldn't be turned over to for-profit corporations. What's next, Wal-Mart handing out speeding tickets?

Israel isn't too keen on private prisons either. A little over a year ago, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that incarcerating people for profit violates their human rights.

According to the Jerusalem Post,
(Supreme Court President Dorit) Beinisch wrote that the incarceration of anyone was a violation of human rights but when it was done by the state, it was done for the public good. When the state allows a private group to incarcerate, the violation of human rights is being perpetrated for profit - both the state's and the private entrepreneur's.
Haaretz further explains,
Israel's basic legal principles, she continued, hold that the right to use force in general, and the right to enforce criminal law by putting people behind bars in particular, is one of the most fundamental and one of the most invasive powers in the state's jurisdiction. Thus when the power to incarcerate is transferred to a private corporation whose purpose is making money, the act of depriving a person of his liberty loses much of its legitimacy. Because of this loss of legitimacy, the violation of the prisoner's right to liberty goes beyond the violation entailed in the incarceration itself.
Beinisch also argued that in a prison run by a private company, prisoners' rights are undermined by the fact that the inmates are transformed into a means of extracting profit. Efficiency, she wrote, is not a supreme value when the most basic and important human rights for which the state is responsible are at stake.
Makes sense to us.