Hillary / DNC: Cut ties with private prisons!
Here's the message we sent to our members. After you've read it, please add your voice.
“We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America...[as a young lawyer] I saw repeatedly how our legal system can be and all too often is stacked against those who have the least power, who are the most vulnerable…It's time to change our approach. It's time to end the era of mass incarceration.” -- Secretary Hillary Clinton
During her well-regarded speech on the criminal justice system last month, Secretary Hillary Clinton laid out a bold critique of mass incarceration, but neglected to mention that the private prison industry is helping to bankroll her presidential campaign by using industry lobbyists as "money bundlers".1
Private prison companies make billions from our broken and discriminatory criminal justice system by disproportionately locking up Black and brown people in the country's most dangerous prisons, for profit.2 Furthermore, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is required to keep at least 34,000 immigrants locked up to meet a draconian federal quota at a cost to taxpayers of $2 billion per year,3 much of this going to enrich private prison companies. And nearly 20% of immigrant detainees are locked up for traffic offences.4 Imagine the devastation we'll suffer if the industry's lobbying power determines and influences the next president.
'Bundlers' are fundraisers who raise money from their wealthy friends for a candidate. Candidates love them because bundlers do most of the work, raising more money in less time. Bundlers are also increasingly powerful because they are the gatekeepers to huge sums of money for a candidate.5
The Clinton campaign recently engaged two sets of such bundlers from the private prison industry's lobbyists. Richard Sullivan, a registered lobbyist for the GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies in America, pulled in almost $45,000 as a 'bundler' for the Clinton campaign. At the same time, a team of lobbyist from Akin Gump, the primary lobbyists for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the US, bundled almost $130,000 for Clinton in the first six months of 2015.6 How can we trust politicians who seek massive campaign cash from incarceration profits?
There is a great deal at stake. Because of private prison industry influence, the Department of Homeland Security is required to keep a minimum of 33,400 immigrants in detention, regardless of the immigrant population or crimes committed.7 No other law enforcement agency operates under a Congressionally mandated lock-up quota, giving many of the incarceration contracts to private prison corporations. The percentage of immigrants held in private facilities, particularly those owned by CCA and the GEO Group -- the 2 largest for-profit prison companies -- rose from 49% in 2009 to 62% today.8
Federal, state and local governments are busting their budgets to pay for all the people we incarcerate, while these companies successfully lobby to expand failed criminal justice policies responsible for today's mass incarceration crisis.
We expect more from those who seek our votes. And while the same kinds of lobbyists are also raising money for several Republican candidates, this practice cannot be allowed to enter the mainstream of the Democratic party or politics in general.
Thanks and ¡adelante!
— Arturo, Matt, Erick, and the rest of the Presente.org Team
P.S. Can you donate $5 to support our work? We rely on contributions from people like you to see campaigns like this through.
1. Private Prison Lobbyists Are Raising Cash for Hillary Clinton, The Intercept, July 23, 2015
2. Private Prisons Spend $45 Million On Lobbying, Rake In $5.1 Billion For Immigrant Detention Alone, Think Progress, August 3, 2012.
3. The US Keeps 34,000 Immigrants in Detention Each Day Simply to Meet a Quota, The Nation, August 13, 2015
4. The Math of Immigrant Detention, National Immigration Forum, August 22, 2013
5. Lobbyists Fundraising for Clinton, Bush, Rubio and Kasich Are Coworkers, The Intercept, July 22, 2015
6. See source #1.
7. Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, Grassroots Leadership Report, April 2015
8. See source #7.