Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) on September 17 introduced bills to ban private prisons, reinstate the federal parole system and eliminate quotas for the number of immigrants held in detention.
Of the nearly 1.6 million people in federal and state prisons in 2013, 8.4 percent were in private prisons. That includes over 41,159 federal prisoners in private facilities and 91,885 state prisoners in private facilities. The U.S. Marshal Service held 20 percent of its detainees in private facilities and Immigration and Customs Enforcement held 62 percent of its detainees in private facilities in 2014. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is mandated to detain and maintain an average of 34,000 individuals at any given time.
Justice should not, and can not be for sale. The for-profit prison industry trades on the stock exchange and increases the value of their stock by locking people behind bars, very often, for decades at a time. The federal government, my government, your government pays these corporations to house inmates convicted of a variety of crimes.
Very often, these crimes are non-violent drug offenses.
America’s failed war on drugs supplies an almost endless stream of inmates to these corporations. The more people these companies incarcerate, the more money these companies make. There is something fundamentally wrong with all of this. When companies have a monetary incentive to lock people away, they lobby for stiffer sentencing and short cuts to law enforcement, making it easier to arrest, convict and sentence offenders.
Our corrections system exists to uphold justice – not to house innocent refugees or feed the greed of corporate interests,” Grijalva said. By an ever increasing number of inmates, who often do not receive the basic staples of life, and are forced to live in overcrowded facilities, our corrections systems are collapsing under their own weight as the prison industry gets rich and countless innocent men, women and children are ensnared in their trap.
In the United States of America (a free nation) this is an abomination, a true travesty of justice.
The current for-profit prison systems, and the failed war on drugs is ruining the lives of not only these inmates and detainees, it devastates families for years to come.
Once again, large corporations profit while American citizens suffer. Once again, the rich get richer at the expense of the poor and unfortunate. We must ask ourselves how these things are possible in a free and democratic society.
This abomination hurts us all in the end and must be stopped. Thank goodness for rational, compassionate and principled people like Senator Sanders and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, and Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Bobby L. Rush.
Yes, there are some criminals, really bad people who need to be locked away, but there are far too many, doing far too much time, for non-violent offenses and nobody should be able to profit from this. In my opinion this is a form of modern day slavery and should be abolished just as the horrendous practice of owning and selling human beings was abolished over one hundred and fifty years ago.