In this week's issue, Chris Kirkham takes an in-depth look at a private prison empire based in Florida.
What he learns about the Youth Services International prison system is deeply disturbing -- the result of six months spent scouring thousands of pages of state audits, lawsuits, local police reports and probes by state and federal agencies, along with interviews with former employees and prisoners.
In Florida, YSI manages more than $100 million in contracts. And despite a record of abuse and mistreatment at its facilities, the company has continued to win business in several states.
Unwilling or unable to perform the necessary oversight, Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice "routinely awards contracts to private prison operators without scrutinizing their records," Chris writes.
As one former Department executive tells him, "They don't want the providers to look bad, because they don't have anyone else to provide this service. Bottom line, the state of Florida doesn't want responsibility for these kids."
As a result, young people have faced a range of abuses, from being served bloody, raw chicken to being "choked and slammed head first into concrete walls," as a 2010 lawsuit chronicles.
Elsewhere in the issue, Jason Linkins points out the ridiculousness of comparing the technical difficulties hampering the Obamacare website to the Iraq War, as National Journal columnist Ron Fournier recently did.
"Now, obviously, at first blush, this comparison seems very stupid. Like, say, something that only a complete idiot -- a real, blubbering, blithering, stupid-faced moron -- would consider, let alone put into words and enunciate in a public forum," Jason writes.
However, he continues, some similarities can be found. "The word 'surge' has been used in conjunction with each thing's terrible flaws, and the efforts to repair the problem. So, that's something. That is, at the very least, a 'thing.'"
Finally, as part of our continuing focus on The Third Metric, Carey Polis introduces us to the enlightening experience of dining in silence with a roomful of strangers.
This story appears in Issue 73 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, available Friday, Nov. 1in the iTunes App store.
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