Study: You would spend 90 extra days in jail in a private prison

A new study suggests that private prisons hold prisoners for a longer period of time, wasting the cost savings that private prisons are supposed to provide over public ones.

  • Private prisons in Mississippi tend to hold prisoners 90 days longer than public ones.
  • The extra days eat up half of the expected cost savings of a private prison.
  • The study leaves several open questions, such as what affect these extra days have on recidivism rates.
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America’s prison catastrophe: Can we undo it?

The US prison system continues to fail, so why does it still exist?

  • The United States is the world's largest prison warden. As of June 2020, America had the highest prisoner rate, with 655 prisoners per 100,000 of the national population. But according to experts, doing something the most doesn't mean doing it the best.
  • The system is a failure both economically and in terms of the way inmates are treated, with many equating it to legal slavery. American prisons en masse are expensive, brutal, and ineffective, so why aren't we trying better alternatives? And what exactly are these overstuffed facilities accomplishing?
  • Damien Echols and Shaka Senghor share first-hand accounts of life both in and after prison, while political science professor Marie Gottschalk, activist Liza Jessie Peterson, historian Robert Perkinson, and others speak to the ways that America's treatment of its citizens could and should improve. "The prison industrial complex is a human rights crisis," says Peterson. "Something needs to be done."
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FOSTA-SESTA: Have controversial sex trafficking acts done more harm than good?

The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims.

Credit: troyanphoto on Adobe Stock
  • SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) started as two separate bills that were both created with a singular goal: curb online sex trafficking. They were signed into law by former President Trump in 2018.
  • The implementation of this law in America has left an international impact, as websites attempt to protect themselves from liability by closing down the sections of their sites that sex workers use to arrange safe meetings with clientele.
  • While supporters of this bill have framed FOSTA-SESTA as a vital tool that could prevent sex trafficking and allow sex trafficking survivors to sue those websites for facilitating their victimization, many other people are strictly against the bill and hope it will be reversed.
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Study: Militarization of police does not reduce crime

A new look at existing data by LSU researchers refutes the Trump administration's claims.

Credit: Megan Varner/Getty
  • The United States Department of Defense gifts surplus military equipment and clothing to local police departments.
  • The militarization of police coincides with a significant loss of trust in law enforcement from the American public.
  • Militarized police departments are more likely to interact violently with their communities.
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Catching serial killers with an algorithm

This week, Big Think is partnering with Freethink to bring you amazing stories of the people and technologies that are shaping our future.

  • There are over 250,000 unsolved murder cases in the United States. Thomas Hargrove, cofounder of Murder Accountability Project, wants that number to be as close to zero as possible, and he has just the tool to help.
  • Hargrove developed an algorithm that, through cluster analysis, is capable of finding connections in murder data that human investigators tend to miss.
  • The technology exists, but a considerable roadblock that the project faces is getting support and cooperation from law enforcement offices.
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