In an article published on Medium.com, presidential candidate and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spelled out her plans to combat the privatization of prisons and detention facilities.
In the article, she explains that, if elected, she will take steps to ban the federal use of private prisons and detention facilities all together by ending all contracts that the Bureau of Prisons and ICE have with private detention centers.
In addition, she will try to stop contractors from charging inmates for basic services such as phone calls, bank transfers, and healthcare.
“President Obama took steps to lower the incarceration rate and wind down private prisons, but these companies got their biggest break yet when Donald Trump landed in the White House. With Trump, private prison companies saw their chance to run the same playbook for our immigration system,” Warren wrote.
According to a study conducted by Worth Rise, prison phone companies like Securus and Keefe charge incarcerated individuals up to $20 for a 15-minute call. Warren maps out how these costs can have a significant impact on the support systems of people who are incarcerated.
Warren also makes the point that commissary contractors need to be addressed for overpriced goods. Many prisoners are making are making less than a dollar a day but are being charged over three dollars for things like a can of tuna and deodorant, according to Reuters report. Some contractors also charge for extra supervision like ankle monitors and probation services.
Warren claims that if she takes the oval office in 2020, she will work to dismantle the financial exploitation of prisoners and newly freed inmates. In her Medium article, she cites that at least 4,000 companies are profiting off of the prison industrial complex, according to Worth Rise, a non-profit dedicated to dismantling the prison industrial complex.
Lastly, Warren outlines how she will keep these companies accountable by introducing an independent Prison Conditions Monitor within the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General. This monitor program will make sure that contractors are adhering to quality standards. Contractors who violate the law and still exploited inmates will be prosecuted, according to Warren’s article.
“Washington hands billions over to corporations profiting off of inhumane detention and incarceration policies while ignoring the families that are destroyed in the process. We need to call that out for what it is: corruption. Incarcerating and detaining millions for profit doesn’t keep us safe. It’s time to do better,” she said.