Magazine article The Nation

Prisons for Profit, Cont

Magazine article The Nation

Prisons for Profit, Cont

Article excerpt

Alex Friedmann doesn't look like the kind of guy who would incite a prison riot. Slight and bespectacled, Friedmann measures his words carefully and is quick to point out his own biases. So it came as a bit of a surprise a few weeks ago when Collections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the world, abruptly transferred Friedmann from its medium-security lockup in Clifton, Tennessee. According to Friedmann, the company accused him of "efforts to degrade C.C.A. with negative articles and outside sources."

Among those "outside sources" was The Nation, in which I quoted Friedmann in my January 5 cover story on C.C.A., "Prisons for Profit." Company officials refused to let Friedmann see the article, as he explained in the March 16 Nation Letters column, on the grounds that it "could incite disobedience to law enforcement officials or prison staff." Friedmann appealed the decision with the support of Nation publisher Victor Navasky, who urged state prison officials to heed the First Amendment, "which teaches us that the way to combat ideas and information we don't like is not through censorship but rather with better ideas and information."

A state prison official overruled C.C.A. But before Friedmann could see the story, the company transferred him to a prison run by the state. Tennessee officials upheld the move, describing Friedmann in an official document as making "a deliberate effort to disseminate material which is negatively oriented to the prison operating company. …

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