TUCSON – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today released statements responding to the Department of Justice announcement that it will end its use of private prison.
“The Department of Justice announcement that it is ending its reliance on for-profit prison corporations is welcome news, but it is long overdue,” Rep. Grijalva said. “It is not breaking news that these facilities that have fueled mass incarceration in our country are more costly, less effective and more dangerous than those run by the government. I’m glad that DOJ has finally recognized these facts, but their actions alone are not enough. Until DHS and state governments around the country break ties with these corporations, justice in this country will continue to be undermined by private profit motives, and innocent people will continue to suffer.
“This isn’t simply unjust detainment – this is the exploitation of human captivity – including young children – for the sake of money. People die in these facilities because companies refuse to pay for adequate medical care. People starve because they have no other means of taking a stand against the injustices inmates face besides hunger strikes. These corporations are eroding the moral fabric of our nation. I urge all government actors with ties to this morally bankrupt industry to follow DOJ’s lead and end their contracts without delay.”
Grijalva and Sanders joined forces to introduce the Justice Is Not For Sale Act in September of 2015, which would ban private prisons, end family detention and remove Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) daily mandate to fill 34,000 beds with detainees. In addition, the bill would reinstate the federal parole system, require ICE to improve monitoring of detention facilities, require ICE to use Alternatives to Detention, and increase oversight to prevent companies from overcharging inmates and their families for services like banking and telephone calls.
“Our criminal justice system is broken and in need of major reforms,” Senator Sanders said. “The Justice Department’s plan to end its use of private prisons is an important step in the right direction. It is exactly what I campaigned on as a candidate for president.
“It is an international embarrassment that we put more people behind bars than any other country on earth. Due in large part to private prisons, incarceration has been a source of major profits to private corporations. Study after study after study has shown private prisons are not cheaper, they are not safer, and they do not provide better outcomes for either the prisoners or the state.
“We have got to end the private prison racket in America as quickly as possible. Our focus should be on keeping people out of jail and making sure they stay out when they are released. This means funding jobs and education not more jails and incarceration.”