So I’m looking over at Open Secrets (as I sometimes do) just to see who Corrections Corporation of America is paying off, politically speaking. And sure enough, they’re loyal contributors to Bob Goodlatte, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who won’t schedule hearings on the Smarter Sentencing Act.
Which would reduce the prison population. Which would be bad for CCA’s business model. As CCA says in their 2013 10K filing (PDF):
The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.
Well, I give them credit for one thing, they don’t beat around the bush. They come right out and say it — the war on drugs and immigrants makes them rich.
Now their policy is not to lobby on any legislation that would affect sentencing or length of incarceration. But I think ol’ Bob Goodlatte can read the tea leaves on that one.
Anyway, as long as I’m over at Open Secrets, I decide to look at who contributes to their PAC. And right there on the list, I find THURGOOD MARSHALL JR., who maxed out at $5000. And I’m like, that can’t be right. There must be two Thurgood Marshall Jr’s.
Yes, in fact, it is right. Thurgood Marshall Jr., son of the late Supreme Court Justice famous for Brown v Board of Education, joined the board of CCA in 2003. Not only is he on the Board, he’s an enthusiastic PAC contributor.
So I’m thinking, I can’t be the only person who ever noticed this. And, as it turns out, I’m not — I’m just late to the party. I find Kim Morgan over at the Black Youth Project actually penned a letter to the aforementioned Mr. Marshall last year, and it’s well worth reading in its entirety, but here is an excerpt:
At this point I’m not sure what’s more disturbing, the fact that Thurgood Marshall Jr has been on CCA’s board since 2003 or his statement in 2004 regarding his father in which he said, “I also like to think of his legacy as one of encouraging lawyers of every color to contribute their skills to society.” I wasn’t aware that this meant using your skills to contribute to the mass incarceration of black men throughout the U.S. As an attorney, and one whose father helped set the tone for civil rights, I would think this meant using your skills to help fight AGAINST the prison industrial complex and the devastating toll it’s taken on the black family, not aid it.
Having all this information, carrying your fathers last name and legacy, I must ask, are you betting on or against black men?
At this point, I’m telling myself “well everybody has to make a living.” (Not really, but let’s suspend disbelief for a moment and pretend I do.) Then it gets worse. I find that in 2012, Alex Friedmann of Prison Legal News bought just enough shares in CCA to allow him to introduce a shareholder’s resolution (PDF), to the effect that CCA would have to report to their shareholders on a regular basis on their efforts to reduce rape and sexual assault in their prisons.
Side note: good on you, Alex Friedmann.
The CCA board (including Thurgood Marshall Jr.) objected to the resolution with the SEC, and the SEC sided with Friedmann. So the motion was heard at the regular CCA shareholder’s meeting in Nashville. Unsurprisingly it failed. And Marshall, as a member of the Board, voted against it.
Now you may ask, Dennis DiConcinni is on the CCA board, why don’t you care about him? Because Dennis DeConcinni is a long time hack-for-hire who (along with Rahm Emanuel) helped Freddie Mac execs loot like wild boars when he was on their board. He’s always wearing the “for sale” sign. Nobody expects any better.
But Thurgood Marshall Jr. I’m sorry. That just makes me sad.
Photo by Dept. of Labor