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Prison for Profit

Prison for Profit

South Africa’s Mangaung Prison was supposed to be a model facility. The first privately run prison in the country would be a place where the most hardened inmates could be rehabilitated through humane treatment and given access to programming and educational opportunities. Instead, run by global security giant G4S, Maungaung prison has been the focus of repeated complaints of violence, torture, abuse, and neglect.

PRISONS FOR PROFIT follows investigative journalist Ruth Hopkins as she uncovers the truth about Mangaung. The film features leaked footage from within the prison—some shot by guards themselves—and interviews with former prisoners who left Mangaung with permanent physical and psychological damage.

Prisoners speak about being beaten, repeatedly stunned with electric shocks, and involuntary injected with powerful anti-psychotic drugs. And life is not great for the guards either. With G4S failing to create a safe environment, they regularly fear for their lives. In some of the most powerful sequences of the film, former guards admit to brutal treatment of inmates while also recognizing the toll their job has taken and the mistreatment they have faced at the hands of the company.

PRISONS FOR PROFIT is not only an investigation into the shocking conditions at Mangaung. It is also a condemnation of the conditions that result when the state contracts out core functions to companies driven by profit—and when prisoners become just another revenue stream.

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Main credits

Velzen, Ilse van (film director)
Velzen, Ilse van (film producer)
Velzen, Ilse van (screenwriter)
Velzen, Femke van (film director)
Velzen, Femke van (film producer)
Velzen, Femke van (screenwriter)
Hopkins, Ruth (screenwriter)

Other credits

Directors of photography, Hans Bouma, NSC & Rogier Timmermans; music & sounddesign, Jeroen Goeijers; editor, Paul de Heer, NCE.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

South Africa
Criminal Justice


; "Prison for Profit"; Icarus Films; privatization; prison; jail; South Africa; corporations; documentary; abuse; ; "Prison for Profit"; Icarus Films

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