"These aren't hotel guests."

Dateline: Thu 26 Apr 2007

That's how Indiana's chief HOuse Republican Rep. Brian Bosma characterized Arizona inmates, who went off like a firecracker at the New Castle prison -- setting fires, fighting, throwing stuff.

No, but they are not widgets, either, to be shipped from one state to another like an indifferent or inferior product, passed off until someone with an eye to profit will accept them. As an Arizona woman said of her son, one of the inmates, "They miss their families. They are too far from home." They are, after all, people.

Plus in Indiana they can't smoke -- a truly Draconian rule -- or receive porn magazines in the mail. Not allowing inmates and mental patients to smoke is a particular Indiana thing that makes no sense and only adds weight to "cruel and unusual" punishment. Along with creating another thriving black market.

So Gov. Daniels' privatization theme song strikes a very sour note when it comes to running prisons. Arizona knew there was going to be trouble; so did guards and their families at New Castle. The real problem is that prisons have become big business, with inmate populations predicted out a generation based on 2nd grade performances. This is not humane and can only ultimately have dreadful consequences, as New Castle/Arizona illustrates.

What next? Global pens, housing Chinse cons or third-world inmates? All for money? It's a bad deal.

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