Buried amid Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton‘s numerous accolades last week, including owning the Benghazi panel and winning the first Democratic presidential debate, was a decision to cut ties with the multi-billion dollar private prison industry that profits off the imprisonment of Black and brown people.
The Clinton campaign and online civil rights group Color Of Change announced the decision last week after about two months of negotiations.
A Clinton aide confirmed the agreement for NewsOne in an email statement, saying that her campaign will no longer accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists or PACs for private prison companies, and will donate any previous direct contributions to charity. The amount was not disclosed.
The agreement comes amid intense scrutiny of the private prison industry. Companies have been accused of “making profits for its shareholders by cutting corners on critical health, and rehabilitative services, creating some of the worst conditions in the country,” according to Color Of Change.
“The decision speaks to the waning influence of the private prison industry, whose goal is solely to make money,” Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color Of Change, told NewsOne in an interview. “You insert profit into what is happening inside this industry and many people are getting hurt and few are reaping profits.”
This is only one of many ways that Hillary believes we need to rebalance our criminal justice and immigration systems, the Clinton aide said.
Clinton has long argued that the federal government should not contract out this core responsibility. “And when we’re dealing with a mass incarceration crisis, we don’t need private industry incentives that may contribute or have the appearance of contributing to over-incarceration,” the aide said.
Two of the largest for-profit prison companies, GEO and Corrections Corporation of America, take in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the private federal prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to a 2011 report by the Justice Policy Institute.
And most private prison contracts mandate that state and local governments maintain a certain occupancy rate, or taxpayers are forced to pay for empty beds. Activists complain that the mandate leads law enforcement to target poor, Black, and brown people who are most likely unable to fight the charges.
“We’re pleased with Clinton’s decision,” Robinson said. “The goal of the private prison industry is to make money. When you insert profit into the prison industrial complex, many people get hurt and just a few reap the benefits.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform
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