Why Don’t You Stay Awhile? The Private Prison Business and Trump’s Presidency

Your banks, like Wells Fargo and Bank of America, are invested in the business of keeping inmates behind bars.

*This is a re-post from a piece I wrote back in October, but this is a better forum to host my opinion. It’s also provided time for supporting evidence to emerge regarding the argument that private prisons are loving 45’s time in office.*

According to this NBC News article in October, shares in the two largest private prison stocks jumped sharply the morning after Donald J. Trump was elected president. The Corrections Corporation of America surged by 60 percent before falling back to a 34 percent jump and GEO Group Inc. was up by 18 percent. As Ben Popken stated in this piece for NBC News, “Trump is supposed to be good for business and one of those businesses is the prison business.”

Under Obama, we saw the Department of Justice move towards discontinuing the use of private contractors to run federal prisons, but a Trump presidency likely indicates a reversal of this progressive policy.

Trump’s pro-deportation rhetoric gives way to a high potential for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to become more aggressive with arrests across the country. Consequently, this also increases the need more for more real estate to house illegal immigrants before being forced to leave the country. This is great news for companies like Corrections Corp. and the GEO Group, who are tied up in the business of keeping prison cells full. (see image below)

As we’ve seen, and as identified by the United States Bureau of Prisons, immigrant-only prisons have been found to be exhibiting “full scale medical neglect,” likely leading to premature deaths of inmates with cancer, AIDS, mental illness, and liver or heart problems. If you need proof, read this article. So essentially, we’re going to up the ante on filling on our privately-run prisons, make a quick buck, and leave them to die? Yeah, pretty much.

Private prisons have housed close to 23,000 non-citizens convicted of federal crimes. I’m just as much of an advocate for arresting federal criminals as you are, but take a minute to understand who would profit from importing hundreds of thousands illegal (but probably hard-working, God-fearing individuals) into privately-operated prisons: banks, mutual fund management companies and private equity firms – as well as public employee retirement systems. Need proof of that, as well? Follow this link.

Your banks, like Wells Fargo and Bank of America, are invested in the business of keeping inmates behind bars.

2013_09_PrivatePrisons

All of this, in tandem with the likelihood that a Trump presidency will do next to nothing to curb recidivism (rate of re-arrest)/minimum prison sentences, is bad news. American corporations should not be in the business of making profits from incarceration, especially since some of those who influence policy are advocates of harsher punishments and/or are failing to alleviate consequences for things like minor/first-time drug offenses.

Our correctional system should be aimed toward repairing the lives of its inmates to once again become productive citizens of society.

There is little to no effort on the federal level (that I’m aware of) to re-integrate former prisoners into society. We are investing minimal capital into the education and training of people who will be expected to find their footing upon being released–in a sociopolitical environment that’s looking to cut welfare programs.

Considering who typically occupies our prisons, knowing that there are “quotas” for those which are privately operated, and seeing hardly any spending on human capital for successful assimilation upon release, it’s clear that systemic and institutionalized barriers are real.

Don’t kid yourself.

Economic and Social Vigilantism: Philanthropy or Policy-Making?

“Their influence is growing in tandem with their largess, shifting power away from democratic institutions.”

An opinion piece by David Callahan recently published in the New York Times (READ HERE) brought this question to the forefront of my mind: Is private intervention–that’s publicly acknowledged–the future of how policy is shaped in our country?

I, for one, am not in favor of such a high degree of “economic or social vigilantism,” primarily because, as the article states, private funds report to no voters, and non-profit organizations generally represent “slivers of interest” from mega-givers seeking to influence public policy. There have been numerous (literally hundreds) of recent examples where private dollars look public outcry in the face and say “eh, too bad.” (Were you aware of Baltimore’s eye-in-the-sky? I bet not! Follow this link to read more.)

It’s as if America is Gotham, and people like Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates are being depicted in a Batman-esque fashion; what we “need but do not deserve” to intervene in a broken system. Initiatives taken on by private entities or individuals, for example, to donate to clean water resources in Flint, MI, are obviously great/necessary, but thinking beyond the relief effort–what are the negative consequences?

Increased public distrust of the government because they slash funding instead of simply providing clean, freaking water?

Increased power (it’s already superior) of the private dollar versus the public one?

Will democratic institutions ENTIRELY erode and instead succumb to the sociopolitical views of the wealthy few?

Will dollars from private donors, despite being tabbed as “progressive” or “conservative,” ultimately just lead to more ideological subterfuge?

Imagine a socialist reliance on Mark Zuckerberg and a conservative party overtly led by the Koch brothers. “Dark money” would be unveiled from the shadows and instead be called upon to advance either side’s agenda and govern the political atmosphere. Politics in America have never NOT been influenced by crooked dollars (thanks Boss Tweed), but it may already be at the point where our citizens would rather see those dollars go at it in the public forum, unabashedly, Ali v. Frazier style. The argument could be made, surely, that this would be more favorable [or effective?] than our current system.


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Philanthropy not tied to political influence/advancement of an agenda (this may be my naivety allowing such a notion to exist) is something I encourage. Maybe there is no such thing as non-political philanthropy. But giving for a return (e.g. tax breaks), is becoming all too common. A careful balance, and more transparency, must be struck on private giving. It could give way to a much bigger problem–although I’m sure anyone could be better at playing Batman than Ben Affleck.