Corporations are making a profit by locking up and detaining our community members. And in the wake of the highly contagious coronavirus, incarcerating even more people is both unconscionable and irresponsible. But private prison corporations are constantly pushing policies that ensure more people will be locked up to increase corporate profits. Most contracts with private prisons even include quotas for how many people must be locked up.
Two of the largest private prison profiteers, GEO Group and CoreCivic Inc., are making money by incarcerating disproportionate numbers of Black and brown people, and so further perpetuating forms of systemic racism. And our government is using our tax dollars to bankroll these profiteers. More and more of our community members are falling prey to the vicious prison industrial complex further fueled by the Trump administration’s anti-Black and anti-immigrant agenda.
Black people comprise only 13 percent of the total U.S. population, but are close to 40 percent of the total U.S. prison population. With the expansion of private prisons and immigration detention centers, the prison industrial complex depends on growth based on local and state police departments and federal law enforcement agencies targeting Black and brown communities.
You might recognize the name GEO Group because it has been a nominee in our annual Corporate Hall of Shame for the past two years. And now we’re joining a coalition of allies to demand that the U.S. state and federal governments stop funding private prisons, so many of whom are notorious for overcrowding, medical negligence, inhumane living conditions, and physical and sexual abuse of inmates, especially in light of the global pandemic we’re all dealing with. Add your name now!
With several prisons now reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths, the conditions in these prisons not only violate human rights, but also pose major public health risks for inmates and staff, and for larger communities throughout the U.S. Now is especially not the time to let corporations profit from incarceration.
Fortunately, human rights activists have seen big wins with major banks like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo committing to end financing of the private prison industry. Lawmakers in several states like California, Nevada, and Illinois have banned private prisons, and some courts in other countries are ordering the release of inmates from detention centers in the wake of the coronavirus.
But, we need to put pressure on all state and federal lawmakers until private prisons and jails are a thing of the past and all incarcerated people are afforded protections in the wake of COVID-19.