Vote Charlie!

End mass incarceration

Posted at age 28.

Mandatory minimum sentences are too high, resulting in too many people being in prison for too long and thus being less able to rejoin society after serving and being more likely to be arrested again. The problem has been compounded by the rise of private prisons, which has proven to be a disgusting perversion of our democracy’s justice system. They must be shut down. Corporate incentives simply do not align with fair sentencing and efficient rehabilitation.

The U.S. prison population has exploded in recent decades, largely due to the drug war, rising from 300,000 inmates in 1972 to 2 million in 2000. Around 1998 there were five private prisons holding a total of 2,000 inmates, but that grew to 100 private prisons with 62,000 inmates in just 10 years. The number continues to grow, and the companies running the prisons have an obvious interest in lobbying for more and longer jail sentences, not just to expand their business, but to expand their supply of cheap labor. Between 2002 and 2012, three prison organizations spent $45 million lobbying state and federal governments and also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to election campaigns for governors, legislators and judges. Private prisons also have abysmal quality and safety records.

Today the US is home to 5% of the world’s population but a quarter of the world’s prisoners. It also has the highest rate of youth imprisonment and on any given day there are more than 70,000 youths in detention. And the biggest winners of this mass incarceration? The for-profit prison companies whose business models essentially depend on locking more and more people up.

Bernie Sanders will be introducing legislation to ban private prisons. Private prisons have spent millions lobbying the government to change the laws to lock more people up, with longer sentences. Cenk Uygur, host of the The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

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Forbes: The case for outlawing for profit prisons