They’re able to get away with it because the details of their government contracts and life behind their walls is kept out of the public eye. If we hope to fight this injustice, we must drag the for-profit prison industry into the light.
We’ve recently begun what we call the Prison Reporting Project, to investigate mass incarceration and the private prison industry — but we need your help covering the filing fees and reporting costs.
This new project in independent journalism has already uncovered a Department of Justice memo showing that lowering mandatory sentences through the Smarter Sentencing Act would save the federal government nearly $24 billion, blowing previous estimates out of the water.
This powerful memo has been reprinted and shared by a large swath of news outlets, activist groups and members of congress– a testament to the power of disclosure for movements like ours.
We’ve already filed dozens of records requests to corrections departments across the country and we’re nowhere near finished. We’re also encouraging private prison employees to come forward with their stories using our SecureDrop whistleblower submission system.
We believe there is significant need for a public reckoning with our use of for-profit prisons. In recent years, reports of private prison abuses including maggot-ridden food, immigrant tent cities and violence akin to “gladiator school,” have shocked the nation, intensifying calls for action.
If we don’t heed that call, our mass incarceration crisis will only get much, much worse. The industry is becoming increasingly powerful in politics, spending their taxpayer-funded profits on campaign contributions and lobbying for policies that will fill their beds.
Thousands of Americans have joined Firedoglake to lower mandatory minimum sentencing, stop the renewal of CCA’s for-profit immigrant prison in Ohio, and end the senseless policy of shipping inmates to for-profit prisons in other states. By educating the public about the goings-on of private prisons, we hope to encourage more to take action.
Thanks for your continued work to reform our shameful prison system. We’ll be sure to share the results of our investigation(s) as soon as possible.