Hello, I wish that I could say good morning but this morning is not a good morning or is this a good

day for Millen/Jenkins County. At 10 a.m. this morning, just about a mile from here there was a group of people who set in motion the demise of life as we know it here in Millen and in Jenkins County. I am a convicted sinner and a prisoner of my Lord Christ Jesus and as such, I am compelled to speak out against the actions taken today by our Governor, Sonny Purdue, and some of our elected officials. This morning Corrections Corporation of America hosted a groundbreaking ceremony that represents collaboration between the State of Georgia and the for-profit prison industry. Why should we oppose the for-profit prison industry? There are many reasons; some are spiritual and some are secular. Spiritual reasons for condemning for-profit prisons are: In the HOLY BIBLE, My Lord Christ Jesus is quoted saying “The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel”. He told his followers to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. What does it mean to love yourself? Would you ever condemn yourself to live in a cage where you will be kept by strangers and fed what you didn’t want to eat? No, you wouldn’t because you care about yourself and love yourself so much that you are willing to forgive yourself for anything that you do wrong. Think about it. If you will love your neighbor as yourself then there would be no need for prisons. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus rejected vengeance as the primary goal of justice. He abolished the law of an "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” when he said “whosoever smites thee on the right cheek: turn to him also the left” other interpretations say “But now I tell you do not take vengeance on someone who has wronged you”. As Christians, our goal should be to restore people to a right relationship rather than retaliate against them. In Proverbs, we are admonished to not rile our children to anger. Jesus said, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments” Stand up for Jesus. You cannot pick and choose which scripture you will accept or which you will reject. If you will accept this prison as a necessary evil for jobs and money then you will also take the mark for the same reason. As I gratefully experience the grace of forgiveness of God in my life, I am convicted that no person is beyond the reach of God’s redeeming love in Christ. It is my responsibility to love my neighbor. . I know that as a Christian I am called to care for individuals and help prisoners by personal contact and that I am called to fight against the current system of for-profit private prisons that use human beings as their commodity. Religious leaders have stated that they express great apprehension about the rise of for-profit private prisons throughout the United States, especially in the South: “When prisoners become units from which profit is derived, there is a tendency to see them as commodities rather than as children of God.” They note the for-profit prison system operates with predictable characteristics given its profit motive: The industry lobbies for harsher sentencing laws to increase the prison population, and it cuts overhead by reducing the number of prison staff and paying lower wages. Overcrowding and reduction of services, while good for profits, have resulted in higher incidences of inmate-on-staff assaults and inmate-on-inmate assaults in for-profit prisons. Based in part on the moral obligation of the state to oversee conditions concerning personal freedom we forthrightly state: “...we call for an end to all for-profit private prisons.” People are not commodities. They are not to be used for commerce. Our nation fought a civil war to put an end that practice but in the aftermath slavery won out. The 13th amendment to the constitution states: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. For-profit private prisons are no more than United States gulags. For those who don’t know that term; gulags were Soviet Union labor camps for political prisoners. I wonder if the people who lived in the towns where the gulags were built welcomed them. They were profitable, efficient and well run. We are treading on thin ice here my friends. Hear me out. I know that what I said sounds like an unfair comparison but everything starts somewhere. There is always a beginning. I want all of you to consider the actual facts about the private for-profit prison system and seriously consider what has happened here this morning. First, I will say that I am for reform of all the prison systems, Federal, State and private prison systems. I believe that the prison systems are used as dumping grounds by our government and our society. Dumping grounds for human beings. Human beings being treated like refuse, being deemed unfit, those who do not measure up to an artificial standard. The treatment of persons who are incarcerated clearly shows that our society does not want to help them. Our societal fascination with fortune and fame is working to our detriment at the expense of real people.

Our society is too busy in the pursuit of wealth. We as a nation have the largest percentage of our population behind bars than any other free nation. As a people we need to redress, reform and revise the current justice system—not add more to it! Most of our great grandparents would be inmates in this here CCA prison, if they were alive today for, doing what they did back then. We have a lot of folks in cages that are treated like dogs or wild animals. Too many of those caged are non-violent offenders (70 percent). In addition to the caging of non-violent offenders our justice, system has mandatory sentencing laws. These laws do not take into account whether or not a person is reformed and therefore worthy of being restored to a rightful place in society. I do not claim to know the answers to all our social ills but I can plainly see that our current system is not working. After prisoners are released they are still santioned for life—there is no forgiveness and no restoration. There is no concern for the individual. The system is strictly retaliatory and not at all restorative. By restorative, I mean that the goal of justice should be aimed at restoring a person to a right relationship with the community in particular and the society in general. Experience has shown that a vengeful justice system works against restoration. Our system aggravates anti-social attitudes of the prisoners as well as all the other people who get caught up in it. How can we have an orderly society if we distrust our governors, judges and law enforcement officials? This atmosphere of hate and mistrust supports the attitude of elected and appointed officials. They argue for increased spending for additional police, judges, courts, prisons and correctional officers rather than funding for programs that address human and social needs such as intervention, education, job training, day care, child and maternal health and substance abuse counseling. As you can see, there are plenty of problems concerning prisons. For-profit private prisons bring an array of ethical concerns. Foremost of these concerns is the fact that the for-profit private prison system is publicly traded on the stock market. That means that the public can purchase stock in the corporation. Well so what? Well the police officer, the clerk of the court, the jury member, the judge, your lawyer, any or all of them might own stock in the prison. So what? The ‘so what’ is that as a stock holder these people have a vested interest in making a profit from their investment and the only way they will profit is if the prison corporation profits…in other words—“you going to prison for a long time”. Another problem with the for-profit private prisons is that maximizing profit means minimizing service. It means that they will pay entry-level employees—hello prison guard—as little as possible and provide them with the least and cheapest training permissible. These minimally trained underpaid ‘guards’ may make mistakes that may tempt prisoners to take advantage of the situation and crimes will be committed. Guards will be injured and inmates will be charged with crimes and taken to court to stand trial. Those charged will need public defenders; our local courts will have to hear the case and so on and on it goes. The prison profits--the community loses. Everyone has an opinion is what I’ve been told. There are witnesses here today who will vouch for the validity of my presentation. That which I have stated here today is the facts--not just opinion. Here is one last fact that you can take to heart. When the operators of the prisons can write the laws concerning imprisonment no one except the operators of the prison will be free. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are to be treated as individuals and as such have a voice in our government. Our government makes the laws and if you break the law, you are a criminal. The Corporation that can create criminal law and thus make criminals of us all is here in our midst today. CCA is the sole author of the new State of Arizona immigration law.

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