Last week, democratic candidate Bernie Sanders introduced the “Justice Is Not for Sale Act,” a powerful bill to ban private prisons. The bill would prohibit the federal government from entering contracts with private prison corporations within two years of the bill’s enactment.
Sanders and supporters of the bill argue that privately-held prisons are more expensive, far more dangerous and “they do not provide better outcomes for either the prisoners or the state.”
According to ThinkProgress, in 2013, 8.4 percent of the 1.6 million inmates in federal and state prisons were locked away in prisons managed by private entities. Because corporations profit off of inmate labor, and the number of inmates, they have incentive to keep their prisons filled, which leaves to overcrowding and incentivizing the incarceration of people who commit low-level offenses.
People who are behind bars are often denied medical services and are subject to inhumane treatment. Additionally, according to ThinkProgress, “because they are driven by profit, private prisons are less inclined to invest in rehabilitative services for inmates.”
Sanders argues that eliminating private prisons is the first significant step toward transforming America’s criminal justice system.
“In my view, we need bold change in our criminal justice system,” Sanders said during a press conference. “As a first step, we need to start treating prisoners like human beings. Private companies should not be profiting from their incarceration. Our emphasis must be on rehabilitation, not incarceration and longer prison sentences. The basic decisions regarding criminal justice and public safety must be the responsibility of the citizens of our country and not the investors in private corporations. It is morally repugnant and a national tragedy that we have privatized prisons all over America. In my view, corporations should not be allowed to make a profit by building more jails and keeping more Americans behind bars. We have got to end the private-for-profit prison racket in America.”
Last Wednesday, Sanders met with Campaign Zero activists, DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Samuel Sinyangwe and Brittany Packnett and others to candidly discuss policing reforms and racial justice.
Hillary Clinton, has also shown interest in reforming criminal justice but she has yet to present a plan or policy platform.