Private prisons proliferated under Trump — Fortunately Elizabeth Warren has a plan to kill them

Warren has private prisons in her sights
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a plan to ban private prisons if she's elected. Screen capture by The Young Turks via YouTube video

Private prisons are profiting from human suffering and presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says she hopes to put a stop to this if she’s elected President.

In an essay appearing on Medium, Warren unveiled her plan Friday to end the government’s ties to private prison if she’s elected, Mother Jones reports.

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As president, she would abolish all federal contracts with the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security have with private detention providers, CNN reports.

Warren noted that private prisons have proliferated and profited massively under the Trump administration.

“We need significant reform in both criminal justice and in immigration to end mass incarceration and all of the unnecessary, cruel, and punitive forms of immigration detention that have taken root in the Trump administration,” she added.

State and local governments will also feel the heat to encourage them to stop working with private prison companies. Warren wants to do this by connecting the receipt of federal public safety funding to their use of public facilities.

“There should be no place in America for profiting off putting more people behind bars or in detention,” she noted.

Warren also intends to stop contractors from charging inmates and detained individuals “for basic services they need, like phone calls, bank transfers, and healthcare.”

“Washington works hand-in-hand with private prison companies, who spend millions on lobbyists, campaign contributions, and revolving-door hires — all to turn our criminal and immigration policies into ones that prioritize making them rich instead of keeping us safe,” she wrote.

Shares of private prison operators tumbled after her remarks were released, but that didn’t faze her campaign said campaign spokeswoman and director of communications Kristen Orthman.

“They shouldn’t have a share price because they shouldn’t exist,” she said.

Warren also zeroed in on former White House chief of staff John Kelly for becoming a member of the board of directors for Caliburn International, the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services. This company runs shelters for unaccompanied migrant children.

Kelly’s career move is “corruption at its absolute worst,” she said at one point in the past.

“John Kelly oversaw many of the Trump admin’s most morally repugnant immigration policies,” she tweeted last May. “Now he could be making big bucks serving on the board of a company that’s profiting from the same cruel plans he put in place.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) announced similar views on private prisons and detention centers in a May essay, citing proposals from the Justice Is Not For Sale Act, legislation he introduced that aimed to prohibit federal, state, and local governments from contracting with private prison corporations.

And Sanders and Warren aren’t alone. Other Democratic presidential contenders such as Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg are beginning to address this issue as well.

These ideas are encouraging, especially since the U.S. has the world’s largest private prison population (as of 2016) The Sentencing Project reports. Out of the 1.5 million people incarcerated in state and federal prisons, 8.5 percent (128,063) were being held in private prisons. The news was also distressing for those being held in immigration detention, with 26,249 people or 73 percent being incarcerated in private facilities every day during the fiscal year 2017. With all of the Trump administration hysteria over the influx of undocumented immigrants that number is almost certainly higher now.

So it’s good news that Democrats like Warren, Sanders, and others are seeking to change this and we must continue to hope Trump isn’t reelected. Because if he is, these numbers will continue to grow.

Screenshot courtesy of the video above