OP-ED: The end of the private prisons racket?
The sickening prisons for profit business could –finally--be coming to an end. The news couldn’t be better, but it’s sure not to be well received by the GOP’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
“We can do a lot of privatizations, and private prisons it seems to work a lot better,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last May when asked what were President Trump’s plans to reform the country’s prison system.
No surprise here, after all Trump’s ideology –if it can be called that—is one of racism and intolerance and, hey, there are billions to be made by keeping as many people of color, as well as immigrant mothers and children behind bars as possible.
Last week, after an Inspector General’s report found dangerous deficiencies in those facilities, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would begin phasing out federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) contracts with private prisons.
This decision “has shaken the perverse notion of profiteering from imprisonment,” said Daniel Carrillo, executive director of Enlace, a group that defines its mission as one of working to stop criminalization of immigrants and people of color and end mass incarceration in the U.S.
The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 40 Latino advocacy organizations, wants the announced measure to go further. The group just sent a letter to President Obama asking him to order the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement to stop using private prisons to detain immigrants.
“If (private prisons) conditions are deemed inadequate for criminals, how can we justify them for individuals who have not been charged with or committed any crimes? The Department of Homeland Security should follow the example of the Department of Justice and immediately begin phasing out the use of private contractors in immigration detention cases,” stated Hispanic Federation’s President José Calderón.
How can the Obama administration, justifiably worried about the fate of Syrian refugees, take the opposite point of view when it comes to Central American immigrants, many of them women, children, and families, a great number of whom are seeking asylum in this country and deprive them of their freedom sometimes for as long as a year?
“Your administration’s recognition that the private prison companies ‘compare poorly’ to and do not provide the ‘same level of safety and security’ as facilities run by the Bureau of Prisons is in stark contrast to the increased amount of business between the government and these contractors in the immigration context,” the letter to Obama read in part. “The continued use of private prison companies to run immigration detention centers would reflect deplorable and deliberate indifference in the face of DOJ’s critical findings in the related BOP context.
“We urge you to direct DHS to end privately-operated immigration detention facilities by ceasing direct contracting with private prison operators and ceasing contracting with states or localities that subcontract with private prison operators,” the letter added.
Yes, the Obama administration should totally and completely do away with this despicable monument to human greed that should have never existed. The sooner the better.