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Is Now The Time To End Private-Run Prisons?

How's this for the war against the young: two judges in Pennsylvania who took $2.6 million in kickbacks to send young offenders to two privately run "youth detention centers" plead guilty to wire fraud and tax fraud and got just 87 months in Federal Prison.

That's right 87 months, not years.

Ordinarily I think that our justice system is too harsh. We send far too many people to prison for far too long because, at least in my view, Americans are nearly-psychotic when it comes to punishment, and now apparently because some of our judges take kick-backs. But how are people not up in arms about the fact that these two judges are only getting a little more than seven years in prison?

Usually we collectively flip-out as a nation when any child-related scandal breaks, so let's flip out about this one. These judges sentenced hundreds of kids, many of whom did not have legal representation, and they were getting paid to fill up the cells at a couple if privately-run juvies. How do they get away with anything less than life without parole? Preferably on that island in No Escape with Ray Liotta, Lance Hendriksen, and the well remembered Stuart Wilson. If that's not available then we finally have a good use for Gitmo.

Now I have to wonder if this kind of thing isn't more widespread.

There are a lot of privately run juvenile detention centers, not to mention privately run prisons. Who's to say there aren't dozens of judges across the country taking kickbacks to send more prisoners to these for-profit facilities?

One more reason to send these two guys away for as long as possible. And a reason to put an end to privately run prisons. These two judges in Pennsylvania just represent the under the table stuff. Imagine what the prison industry can do legally by lobbying congress, to say nothing of state legislatures, even in states that aren't notorious for their corruption?

As long as there are firms with a financial incentive to pressure politicians and judges to send more people to prison, through legal or illegal methods, I'm pretty sure we're going to have a problem, human nature being what it is. So while everyone's talking about nationalizing the banks, why not nationalize the prisons, given that historically that's actually something the state is supposed to run?

Questions? Comments? Send them to millennialmoney@cnbc.com