Episode Nine: The United States Prison System.

Top of the show 

Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us. This is valid arguments. A show about three people with a beginners grasp on the English language, discussing topics that require a doctorate in philosophy. I’m Jeremy Horton, and Today were going to be talking about The United States Prison system, and by the end hopefully we won’t be a part of it. We will also be arguing about a well-balanced breakfast, and Nickelback. Joining me today is Mr. Milo Mordhorst. (Milo intro). And Mr. Joel Barkley. (Joel intro). And our special guest Serj Tankian of SOAD Thank you both, now I want to start by getting your initial takes on prisons, and which people walking the street today, you would most like to see there. 

Questions I will ask: 

  •  My first question is for Joel, our resident arguer that loves to bring up the fact that the US leads the world in incarcerated prisoners. According to the most recent data just over 600k people are sent to prison each year. My question is, do you think we rely on incarceration too much? joel 
  •  Here’s a fun fact that may surprise you. Most people enter prisons poor. The median income of recent prisoners is usually around $10,000 per year. And in 49 states, inmates are charged for the costs of their own incarceration. That means, when you are released from prison, there is a bill waiting for you. In some states failure to pay these bills is the number one reason for incarceration. The reason I mention it is because I’m wondering if you guys think that’s part of their debt to society, or if time served should also mean debt served. milo 
  • Palette cleanser/segment – Is cereal soup
  •  In May of 2014 the federal bureau of prisons changed the program policy regarding mental health among the inmates. We here at Valid Arguments had previously reported that all inmates receive mental health when needed. Turns out that was false. Approximately 20-40% were classified as needing regular mental care. After the change in 2014, the scope of that treatment was narrowed down to just 3% of inmates. So, this is a simple question, did the new policy work? -joel 
  •  One of the bigger issues I wanted to touch on was the brutality of our prison system. It’s not brutal in the way that like a third world country is where the prison itself is brutal. Here in America we are brutal to each other. Our indifference to the violent conditions aside, do you guys think if the prisons were nicer, that the inmates would be nicer
  •  Palette cleanser/segment – Going along with our prison theme. What’s the worst form of torture
  • Arguably the single biggest issue in our prison system today is Overpopulation. Over half of our nations prison systems are at double capacity or more. This issue obviously leads to more violence, territory disputes, and I don’t know if you guys know this, but beds are actually a part of the prison economy with people trading smokes and other valuables in order to sleep in a bed for the night. My question in all this is, do you guys think a bed is a right? 
  •  Palette cleanser/segment 
  •  It’s estimated that every incarcerated worker there saves taxpayers $5,000 and generates around 50 million in revenue per state with the help of inmate labor programs, state funding, and various investments from companies that benefit from cheap labor. With this sort of offender funded business model, my last question for you guys is. Y’all wanna buy a prison

Argument for: 

  •  They are in prison because they’re not nice. They could be held in the Taj mahal and there would still be riots and cruelty.  
  •  There’s plenty of people who aren’t in prison that don’t have beds. I say it’s not a right if you have to buy it. With money.  
  •  fuck ya, those things make a ton of money! And they help a good cause…. keeping criminals off the whatnot. 


Key groups: 

Key people: 

Key Movies:  

Argument Against 

  •   The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 109 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories. That’s way too many numbers for the answer to be no. 
  •  Today, you cannot go to prison for failing to pay for a “civil debt” like a credit card, loan, or hospital bill. You can, however, be forced to go to jail if you don’t pay your taxes or child support. … In that way, if you fail to pay these fines, you may go to jail. And that’s wrong. 
  •  although the Bureau of Prisons changed its rules, officials did not add the staffing or resources needed to implement them, creating an incentive for employees to downgrade inmates to lower care levels because at the lowest levels of care they have access to more mental health drugs rather than psychology. Basically, they doubled the workload and kept the resources the same.  
  •  Not having a bed can lead to mental disorders, restless leg syndome, back problems, and other health issues. Not to mention being in a crowded prison and fighting over beds can lead to territory disputes and violence over something as simple as a bed. It may not be a right, but it seems like a simple solution to a lot of problems. That’s probably why so many people have them.  
  •  Fuuuuuuuck no I don’t want to contribute to the current system which only serves to create more criminals within our society. Fuck outta here. 


Key people: 

Key groups: 

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Outro: *summarize Joel and Milo end arguments* I think that both sides have………………Valid Arguments. Money will determine whether the accused goes to prison or walks out of the courtroom a free man. Johnny Cochran ladies and gentleman. I’d like to thank you all for joining us, and thanks milo and Joel for your thoughts on the subject. We here valid arguments value opinions and think everyone should have one. So if you’re the type of person who knows your voice matters and would like us to help amplify that voice for you, then get at us on social media @argumentsvalid on twitter and valid arguments on Facebook or if you think social media is just as evil as people who think it’s ok for bicyclists to ignore traffic lights, then please feel free to call and leave us a voicemail, the number is 309-340-9431. Please join us next week for more arguments and if you like the show please leave us a rating and review on iTunes. We hope to disagree with you soon. 

Now on our last episode we had a lot of fun facts about animals in cages. So I thought It would be good if we had some fun facts about people in cages on this episode. Unfortunately, this is a pretty bleak subject so I think I’m going to go with fun things to do in prison!  

Read books. 

 work on writing your novel 



Develop a hobby. 


make an escape plan 

pretend to be someone else 

 guess people’s crimes 

 imagine what the worlds like on the outside.  

Prison gets a bum rap. 

Companies that use prison labor 

  • Victorias Secret – inmates usually made about 45 cents per garment sewn together. 
  • Whole foods – sells stuff gotten from other companies that use prison labor 
  • Walmart – contracts companies that use prison labor to dispose of returns and excess inventory. 
  • Microsoft – uses prisoners to package software and accessories. 
  • Starbucks – uses inmates to package in store items. 
  • BP – remember that oil spill? Prisoners cleaned it up. 
  • Nintendo – the sub-contractor that packages game boys use prison labor 
  • AT&T & Verizon use prison labor for their call centers 
  • Target – uses suppliers that keep their prices low through prison labor 
  • Dell – recycled pc’s. Were forced to stop when prisoners were exposed to toxins. 
  • Eddie Bauer – made cheap clothes 
  • Boeing – used sub-contractor that cuts airplane parts with prisoners to undercut unions 
  • Macy’s – same as the other clothing companies 
  • Wendy’s – prisoners process Wendy’s meat.

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