It’s not too hard to find out why the United States is #1 in the percentage of the population that is incarcerated… just follow the money. The boom in the prison industry in the last 15 years has followed a growth in private prisons that receive public reimbursement per prisoner, per day… which has (surprise!) led to tougher sentencing guidelines, and tougher immigration enforcement.
For a sense of scale, lobbying by just two of the large private prison corporations, Corrections Corporation of America, and GEO Group, easily top $1 million per year. And frighteningly, 6 of the 8 Senators known as the “Gang of Eight” responsible for coming up with an immigration reform proposal in 2013 received significant contributions from the private prison lobby. Think that might have an impact on the way policy is decided?
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (This article from The Nation from earlier this year is a good place to start if you want to delve deeper.)
But wait! Before you lose all hope, we wanted to share a couple of links highlighting work being done here in Oregon, spearheaded by ROP’s friends at Enlace International. They have a unique strategy of defunding the private prison industry through a nationwide Divestment campaign, at the same time as they raise awareness about the role of large banks like Wells Fargo in propping up this unjust for-profit prison system.
And just last week they captured media attention for an action targeting the City of Portland. Go Portland Private Prison Divestment Campaign!
· ABC News covered the event: Immigration Activists Focus on Prison Divestment
· The Portland Occupier has a more in-depth article: Portland Tax Dollars Supporting For-Profit Prisons; Group Demands Divestment
ROP is an endorser of the Prison Divestment Campaign. And yes, there are actions that you can take in your small town to make a big impact! Now is a perfect time to submit Letters to the Editor or Op-Eds to your local paper, or talk with your city council, union, or faith community about divesting YOUR local resources from the private prison industry. Get in touch with ROP, or with Enlace themselves for ideas about how to plug in.