Investigative journalist Ruth Hopkins exposes the reality of prison privatisation in The Misery Merchants
More about the book!
The Misery Merchants: Life and Death in a Private South African Prison by Ruth Hopkins is a hard-hitting exposé of G4S, the company running a private prison in Mangaung, South Africa.
Hopkins presents up-close encounters with prison gang members who run the prison, frank and revealing interviews with prisoners, and a unique insight into the minds of the warders on the torture squad.
This work was produced under the auspices of the Wits Justice Project (WJP), an investigative journalism project of the Journalism Department at Wits University.
The WJP investigates miscarriages of justice within the South African criminal justice system such as wrongful convictions, torture in prisons, prison conditions and other human rights abuses. The WJP’s objective is to contribute towards the improvement of the criminal justice system in South Africa and its conformity with the Constitution and international law.
Watch a short trailer of the documentary Prison for Profit, which exposes the same facts as revealed in this book:
The Mangaung Prison opened in 2001 as South Africa’s first privately run penitentiary. Its operator, the multi-billion-dollar British security firm G4S, promised the most humane treatment and the best facilities for its nearly 3,000 prisoners – and naturally at the lowest cost.
It soon became clear that this was mostly sales talk. Leaked surveillance videos and testimonies from guards and former prisoners reveal stories of excessive violence, neglect and unimaginable forms of torture.
Testimonials from whistleblowers and former prisoners, and the findings of investigative journalist Ruth Hopkins expose the reality of prison privatisation. Guards are underpaid, overworked and fear every day for their lives. Prisoners are a source of income, so rehabilitation isn’t a priority.
Prison for Profit shows how this profit maximisation system works, and what happens when governmental tasks like detention are outsourced to powerful international corporations. And what are the negative consequences for society at large?