Published: September 2015

End the private prison racket in America

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) introduced bills to ban private prisons, reinstate the federal parole system and eliminate quotas for the number of immigrants held in detention. Under the plan, 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.

Consumer Action joins consumer advocates in supporting The Justice Is Not for Sale Act, which bars the federal government from contracting with private companies starting two years after the bill is passed. The bill seeks to reinstate the federal parole system, which was abolished in 1984 and increases the oversight over companies that provide banking and telephone services for inmates. The legislation also ends the requirement that Immigration and Customs Enforcement maintain a level of 34,000 detention beds.

“In a society dedicated to liberty and justice, for-profit prisons offend our bedrock principles. Depriving someone of their freedom is the most severe punishment the federal government can levy – the sole incentive must be justice, never profit,” Rep. Ellison said. “Private prison corporations spend millions of dollars lobbying government for harsher sentencing laws and immigration policy that serves their bottom line, while taxpayers foot the $80 billion dollar a year bill to incarcerate 2.3 million people. Incarceration should be about rehabilitation, not profit. Now, more than ever, we need to restore confidence in our criminal justice system. Step one is taking the profit out of the punishment.”

Other Organizations

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees | California Reinvestment Coalition | Campaign for America’s Future | Center for Community | Change Action | Consumer Action | Credo | Demand Progress | Democracy for America | Detention Watch Network | Dream Action Coalition | Grassroots Leadership | Immigrant Legal Resource Center | Immigration Equality Action Fund | In the Public Interest | Justice Strategies | Labor Council for Latin American Advancement | LatinoJustice PRLDEF | League of United Latin American Citizens | Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund | Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity | MoveOn | National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd | National Religious Campaign Against Torture | NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby | PICO | National Network Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services

More Information

For more information, please see a summary of the bill here.

Please click here for a fact sheet on the bill.

To read the press release, please click here.

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