Friday, May 27, 2011

More privatization of the justice system

Last month, I wrote an article about the privatization of prisons. That is only the tip of the iceberg. Private companies will also be handling GPS monitoring in California, and companies like Offender Watch Systems is taking over public registries in many locations. All this privatization implies lowest bidder, corner cutting, and less oversight. As bad as the government is at targeting those forced onto public registries, corporate/ private business interest is downright scary.

Think about it-- the business has a vested interest in keeping business alive. There is a wealth of information to suggest the registries cause the social ostracism which increases the likelihood of re-offending, so why would a private company concern itself with rehabilitation and effective measures of reducing crime?

On the Offender Watch corporate website, it says, "Together, Appriss and Watch Systems are providing services covering nearly 70,000 sex offenders, about 15 percent of the registered sex offender population in the United States." Actually, it is less than 10%. Business is booming, after all, especially with their systems making the claim they are "Adam Walsh Act compliant."

"Appriss currently notifies residents and businesses when registered sex offenders move into their neighborhoods. Its solutions also locate non- complaint offenders and update at-risk agencies of registered sex offenders in their area via phone, fax, or e-mail. Appriss will now be able to tap into Watch Systems' OffenderWatch® to enhance law enforcement's ability to track offenders' whereabouts." I'm curious how they locate non-compliant registrants. After all they are only a database. They also pimp iris scan technology. I am curious as to how an iris scan will prevent crime. Again, remember OffenderWatch is a business.

Consider this quote from the Houston Chronicle: "'You can easily see how it goes from iris scans for registered sex offenders to iris scans for all felons, to iris scans for everyone who is convicted of a misdemeanor, to iris scans for anyone who is arrested,' said Melissa Ngo, director of EPIC's identification and surveillance project." It reminds me of the registry itself. We are seeing more offenses added to the registry with every legislative session, while new registries from violent offender to dangerous dog registries exist across the US. It makes me wonder what else applied only to sex offenders will expand in due time, given people have been willing to accept intrusions of their rights for the sake of security.

There are a few questions I have. What does Offender Watch mean by "Geographic Risk Assessment?" Studies have already proven where a registrant lives is irrelevant. Why is there no disclaimer against abusing the registry info? What is a "Geo-Address Scrubber?" Sounds like some kind of Swiffer-style cleaner. My favorite is the "Fireworks Safety" PDF-- what does firework safety have to do with sex offenders? Don't shoot fireworks at home; instead, get on the sex offender registry.

I wonder if Watch Systems, LLC will offer stock someday, like GEO Group has. That is a disgusting thought. I'm sure there will also be paid lobbyists designed to keep more low-risk offenders on the registry. The corporate takeover of the Justice system is a very scary thought indeed.

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