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Private Prisons Spend Millions Pushing Bad Policy

Every good idea criminal justice experts have come up with over the past twenty years to reduce prison costs and the devastating social impact of mass incarceration on marginalized communities, from non-custodial sentencing to reforming drug laws to innovation in parole and probation, hurts the prison-industrial complex’s bottom line and it’s in their financial interest to oppose any change that might lead to fewer people being locked up.

By Adam Serwer – Adam Serwer’s blog

I meant to link to the Justice Policy Institute’s report on private prisons last week, but Andrea Nill Sanchez has a good summary of the report’s conclusions about tremendous influence private prison companies have amassed by throwing money around:

According to JPI, the private prison industry uses three strategies to influence public policy: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and networking. The three main companies have contributed $835,514 to federal candidates and over $6 million to state politicians. They have also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on direct lobbying efforts. [Corporation of America] CCA has spent over $900,000 on federal lobbying and GEO spent anywhere from $120,000 to $199,992 in Florida alone during a short three-month span this year. Meanwhile, “the relationship between government officials and private prison companies has been part of the fabric of the industry from the start,” notes the report. The cofounder of CCA himself used to be the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Private prison companies are well aware of the impact of tough sentencing laws on their bottom line. The JPI report cites the Corrections Corporation of America’s Annual Report, which notes that:

The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior. Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly, reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities 

See Adam Serwer – Adam Serwer’s blog for more.

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Posted by on June 28, 2011, With 0 Reads, Filed under Civil Liberties, Corruption, Government. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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