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Let's Pretend Justice Department's Reversal On Private Prisons Isn't Just Big Payoff For Campaign Cash
Gosh, here's a heck of a surprise, and yet another phase-in of the New Cruelty: Attorney General Jeff Sessions (sorry, just had to wipe some vomit off the keyboard) announced Thursday night the Justice Department would reverse the Obama administration's decision -- announced last summer before we crossed over into this alternative crapsack universe we're now stuck in -- to stop contracting with private prisons. But now the bonanza for federal dollars is back on, thanks to Sessions, who actually rescinded the policy February 21, but for some reason didn't announce it until two days later.
[wonkbar]<a href="https: //wonkette.substack.com/p/justice-department-to-ditch-private-prisons-we-should-probably-send-mother-jones-a-pie"></a>[/wonkbar]The original Obama decision to move away from private prisons was memo-ed out to the world by then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who we had no idea at the time would become a hero for doing her job as acting attorney general really good and telling the DOJ it shouldn't defend Donald Trump's unconstitutional immigration order, and also advising Trump that Mike Flynn was a possible target of Russian blackmail, not that the Great Yam did anything with the information. Yates sent the memo following a DOJ inspector general's report which determined private prisons were more likely to have “safety and security incidents” than government-run institutions. Coincidentally, it also came not long after Shane Bauer's outstanding investigative piece for Mother Jones in which he got a job as a guard at a private prison and documented firsthand how shitty they can be.
The Daily Beast notes that Yates's memo hadn't yet resulted in significant reductions in the number of federal prisoners in private prisons (only about 1,600 prisoners since December) because These Things Take Time, but that it was nonetheless important since it "signified that the federal government had serious reservations about contracting with private companies to incarcerate people, and was gradually trying to change." Ah, but we now live in Trump's America, so all good things must be systematically undone. Sessions argued that the main reason for reversing the policy was to prevent future overcrowding, saying the Yates memo "changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system,” which we suppose could be true, considering how the Trump administration wants to lock up as many Americans as possible.
Oh, but there may have been some other considerations as well, like the $150,000 contribution made in August by private prison company GEO Group to the pro-Trump super-PAC "Rebuild America Now," conveniently timed right after the new DOJ policy was announced. GEO Group would eventually contribute a total of $225,000 to Rebuild America Now, and then after the election it generously helped out the Trump inaugural committee to the tune of another $250,000. On top of that, a completely different private prison company, CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, which got such terrible media attention it rebranded itself like a cigarette company or Blackwater), also kicked in $250,000 for Trump’s inauguration, which may be why Trump thought he saw so many people there. They were just all wearing leg irons.
[wonkbar]<a href="https: //wonkette.substack.com/p/donald-trump-fixin-to-deport-all-yall-but-very-compassionately"></a>[/wonkbar]Private prisons are also expected to make plenty of bank off the New Cruelty's orders on immigration: While the DOJ had eschewed the use of private prisons, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- which are both under Homeland Security, not Justice -- never gave private prisons up in the first place.USA Today notes that roughly "65% of Homeland Security detainees last year were held in privately run facilities," and that percentage seems likely to only expand under DHS's plan to add more detention facilities for the mass deportations it denies are on the way but that it's hiring 10,000 new agents to handle.
Oh, you'll be delighted to know that corporate spokes-drones for both companies insist they're not actively lobbying for policy changes that will increase their profits. They're simply glad they can provide a needed service at a reasonable cost to the federal government, don't you know. But even if they're not pushing for new policies, they smell
blood in the waterprofits in the near future:
In recent conference calls with investors and analysts, the leaders of both firms noted the potential for growth under the new administration. After Trump signed executive orders to increase immigration enforcement, CoreCivic CEO Damon Hininger told investors that his Nashville, Tenn., company expected a boost in business.
And stock prices for all private prisons have gone through the roof since the election. Imagine that!
CoreCivic [...] is up 140% since Trump won in November. Geo Group stock has risen 98%.
Trump has been even better for private prison stocks than he has for big banks like Goldman Sachs.
For what it's worth, another outfit that's seen a surge in revenues since the election, the ACLU, isn't especially bullish on the move:
Handing control of prisons over to for-profit companies is a recipe for abuse and neglect,” said David Fathi, who heads the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “The memo from Attorney General Sessions ignores this fact. Additionally, this memo is a further sign that under President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, the United States may be headed for a new federal prison boom, fueled in part by criminal prosecutions of immigrants for entering the country.”
What is it with these people thinking Americans still have "rights"? Don't they know Trump won, and that settles all policy questions for all time?
California Rep. Karen Bass is pretty sure she knows what's going on here:
Just imagine the profit potential for private re-education camps!
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