“The current cash bail system is the modern equivalent of a debtor’s prison,” says California State Senator Bob Hertzberg. “It criminalizes poverty, pure and simple.” BY JIM CROGAN
Earlier this month, the Seattle City Council voted not to renew its contract with Wells Fargo, pulling more than $3 billion in city funds from the Wall Street giant. And rightly so—Wells Fargo defrauded over two million of its own customers.
If you thought Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal was bad, get a load of this. Wells Fargo is one of six banks keeping the private prison industry in business.
Since the Justice Department announced in mid-August that it will phase out its use of private facilities for Bureau of Prisons (BOP) prisoners, the stocks of the country’s two largest private prison companies have plummeted. But the companies already have a plan—in fact, they’ve been following it for years.
Vivian Rothstein reports on a theater program for California inmates.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) just announced its plans to end its use of privately operated, for-profit prisons to incarcerate federal prisoners.
Two weeks ago, the country’s second largest private prison company told its investors it had some bad news…
Sometimes knowing where someone stands on an issue is pretty straightforward. We can be sure about this: the private prison industry doesn’t share our goal of ending mass incarceration.
Private prison companies are extremely secretive, but in the last few weeks we’ve gotten two powerful glimpses of how these companies harm prisoners and the people that work for them.
When Grammy Award-winning singer John Legend covered “Redemption Song” last week, his audience—hundreds of prisoners at the women’s prison in Washington State—may have the most grateful ears for such a liberating song.
Remember when maggots were found in potatoes about to be served at a Michigan prison? That was just the tip of the iceberg. A new report released this week details widespread cost-cutting by the food service company Aramark, whose contract was terminated by that state last year. Kitchens were not only unsanitary but dangerous. The company hired inexperienced […]
Last Monday the U.S. Department of Justice announced a powerful new effort to stop local practices that unfairly target poor people by trapping them in “cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape.” Courts across the country are requiring people arrested with minor misdemeanor charges—like driving with a suspended license—to pay fines before […]
As many as five million undocumented immigrants are waiting in limbo as the Supreme Court reviews challenges to President Obama’s 2014 executive actions, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). But there’s one group that’s more than happy with the status quo. A new look under the hood of the nation’s […]
In the Public Interest is happy to be kicking off 2016 with good news. Pushed by students and workers, the University of California has announced it will divest from private prison companies such as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group. This is yet another win for criminal justice reform—Columbia University divested from CCA last […]
It’s unusual for a private contractor to terminate its own contract, especially a contract for $1.2 billion. But that just happened in Florida. After two years of controversy, Corizon, America’s largest for-profit prison health care provider, just decided to end its care of 74,000 prisoners in the state. The company—which is owned by a private equity firm—says […]
Two court orders and the most expensive wrongful death settlement in California history should be enough. But not for Corizon, a corrections health care company owned by a private equity firm. For seven months earlier this year, Mario Martinez, a prisoner in Corizon’s care at the Dublin, California Santa Rita Jail, suffered from asthma that […]
Last week, in a powerful affirmation of the common good, commissioners in Tennessee’s Johnson County unanimously opposed the privatization of the state prison within their county’s limits. A response to fears that the state government could soon outsource management of the Northeast State Correctional Complex, the resolution reads like a checklist of what democracy and public […]
As public officials across the country continue to manage shrinking budgets, experiments for funding public services are emerging. One new idea, the Social Impact Bond, has been advertised as a “win-win” for private investors and the public, but the reality is beginning to look a little different. The results are in from the first SIB […]
This week, the American Correctional Association (ACA) will hold its annual conference in Indianapolis, where thousands of government corrections officials, including wardens, jail administrators and sheriffs, will attend workshops and connect with their peers from across the country. Workshops include best practices for successful reentry programs for released inmates and working in corrections across generations. […]
By now, you have probably heard about the riot at the for-profit Kingman Prison in Arizona. Days of unrest at the prison, run by the privately-held Management Training Corporation, left 15 wounded and forced nearly 1,000 incarcerated people to be transferred to other facilities. The same facility also suffered from a major riot in 2010. Similarly, people […]
Tristain Frye’s success in life is important not just to her – it’s important to all of us. Frye, who recently worked on a new building at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, did not have an easy road to becoming a carpenter’s apprentice. When she was 22, she was sentenced to 12 years in state […]
California voters passed a groundbreaking ballot measure this month that reduces penalties and sentences for nonviolent, “nonserious” crimes. Now, the private industry is responding to these changes in public attitudes and declining prison populations by opening up new lines of business. A new report released by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Grassroots Leadership and the Southern Center […]
Readers of Gary Cohn’s coverage of Proposition 47 and Donald Cohen’s report on the privatizing of America’s jails and prisons will be interested in two events held in sequence this weekend. Off the Cuff is a “criminal justice community teach-in and roundtable.” Its panel discussions will drill down into such topics as Civilian Oversight, Immigrant […]
Introducing for-profit companies into America’s criminal justice system has been a bad deal for governments across the country. During the past several years, a movement opposed to profit incentives in our criminal justice system has grown. Private prison corporations such as Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group have come under increasing scrutiny and pressure […]
When New York rapper Jay-Z played the Rose Bowl last summer, he surprised 90,000 concertgoers by making a political statement. Before launching into his hit “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” he urged fans to vote for a California ballot initiative that would dramatically reduce the state’s prison population and re-direct money into education and treatment […]
Detainees at the Northwest Detention Center, an immigrant detention center operated by GEO Group in Tacoma, Washington, initiated the first of repeated hunger strikes on March 7, 2014. A note from one of the hunger strikers passed to his lawyer read, “Please contact the local news. There’s 1,200 people not eating—better food, better treatment, better […]
In a scene right out of Orange Is the New Black, 1,000 inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio dumped their food in protest last week after maggots were found in the kitchen and dining areas. The prison’s food service program had been outsourced to the massive Aramark corporation. Watch this video […]
Whenever I hear something that sounds a little fishy, I always follow my mom’s advice to consider the source. So when two professors from Temple University touted a study praising the quality and cost effectiveness of private prisons, advocates wanted to know who funded it. Not surprisingly, it turned out that the private prison industry paid for the study, a […]
The U.S. prison population has grown more than 700 percent between 1970 and 2009. We’re locking people up left and right, including thousands of non-violent immigrants whose only crime is crossing the border without documentation. They are now trapped in private prisons with no voice. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has just released the […]
As the saying goes, it takes a village. And when corporations spend vast resources to gain control of public services, it takes a village of smart, savvy and nimble people and organizations to beat them back. That’s exactly what happened in Arizona this week. Last Friday, Arizona House Appropriations Chairman John Kavanagh snuck $900,000 into […]