According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013, there were 31,900 federal prisoners and 92,100 state prisoners in for-profit prisons. Based on these numbers, banning private prisons at the federal and state level would necessitate a significant 124,000 prison bed reduction. Taking these for-profit prison beds off-line and eliminating the option of privatization should spark lawmakers to prioritize efforts to reduce prison populations and minimize the demand for new prison beds. … Private prison corporations make their money off of human misery. The lack of respect for human dignity inherent in the industry is showcased in the egregious conditions in the prisons and detention centers they operate. The largest of these companies, Corrections Corporation of America, has a 30+ year legacy of medical neglect, sexual assault, riots, escapes, and financial scandals. This includes the Idaho Correctional Center, nicknamed the “Gladiator School” where guards allegedly allowed and even incited violent attacks as a tool of social control. Then there’s Management & Training Corp (MTC), which presided over riots in their Kingman and Willacy prisons, spurred by horrendous conditions and ill-trained staff. The GEO Group, another of the largest prison corporations, recently saw a hunger strike from moms at its Karnes family detention camp near San Antonio protesting deplorable food and medical care and the prolonged detention their children in a secure, prison environment.
Sanders to push a plan to ban private companies from running prisons
Source: John Wagner, The Washington Post, September 17, 2015
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will unveil a plan Thursday to ban privately run jails and prisons, which he says have a “perverse incentive” to increase the number of incarcerated people in the country. Under the proposal by the Democratic presidential hopeful, the federal government would have three years to end its practice of using private companies to keep people behind bars. The ban would also apply to state and local governments, which have increasingly turned to private contractors in a bid to save money. … More than 19 percent of federal prisoners are housed in private facilities, as are nearly 7 percent of state prisoners, according to statistics cited by Sanders in a two-page summary of his legislation. Meanwhile, Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds more than 60 percent of its detainees in private facilities.
Sanders to unveil sweeping prison reforms
Source: Mike Lillis, The Hill, September 16, 2015
Leading liberals in both chambers will introduce legislation Thursday promoting a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s prison system. Sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the package aims to reduce incarcerations nationwide by eliminating privately run prisons, reinstating the federal parole system to allow for more early releases, and ending the quota system governing immigrant detentions. …. Dubbed the Justice Is Not For Sale Act, the Sanders-Grijalva bill would bar federal, state and local governments from contracting with private companies to own or operate prisons within two years.
Bernie Sanders Adds to His Radical Justice Platform By Proposing to Close Down Private Prisons
Source: Kelsey Rupp, IJReview, August 21, 2015
Bernie Sanders promised Tuesday to take his racial justice platform from the campaign trail to the Congress by introducing legislation to end private prisons in the United States. … According to a 2012 report by the National Council on Crime & Delinquency:
- In 2010 alone, the three largest prison companies spent more than $1.5 million on federal lobbying;
- Between 2004 and 2010, the three largest companies donated over $3.7 million to individual political candidates, party committees, and ballot measure committees;
- In 2011, the combined revenue of the two largest companies totaled over $3 billion.
According to the report, over 400 private prisons held about 8 percent of all U.S. state and federal prisoners in 2010, including half of federal immigration detainees. That means, in 2010, private prisons held over 128,000 inmates.
Bernie Sanders To Introduce Legislation Abolishing Private Prisons When Congress Reconvenes
Source: Kira Lerner, Think Progress, August 20, 2015
Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that he will introduce legislation to abolish private prisons, one piece of his comprehensive racial justice reform package that has won praise from Black Lives Matter activists. … Black Americans are imprisoned at six times the rate of whites, Sanders notes on his campaign website, and if the trend continues, one in four black males born today can expect to spend time in prison. One of the methods Sanders proposes to address mass incarceration is eliminating the private prison industry. … Private prison companies have been the target of countless lawsuits over their rampant corruption, mistreatment of inmates, and inhumane conditions which have even led to the death of prisoners. Because the corporations are profit-driven, they have an incentive to cut corners on the care of their inmates and detainees to save money. Currently, 16 percent of federal prisoners are housed in private prisons. The two largest prison corporations, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, together take in $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the industry doubled in size between 2000 and 2010. While several states including New York and Illinois have banned private prisons, it’s a tough battle for lawmakers to take up because of the massive amount of money the corporations pour into politics.