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Prison Reform under Trump?

<> on November 8, 2016 in New York City.

What do we know about our future president’s policies on prison reform. We do know that private prison’s stocks sky rocketed the day after he was elected. CoreCivic’s (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) shares increased 43 percent. Private prison’s stocks had fallen over the last 18 months after government reports revealed inadequate services for insubstantial savings. Under the Obama administration, the government was eliminating federal private prisons.

The Office of Inspector General released a report in August which stated:

“Our analysis of data on safety and security indicators found that contract prisons had more incidents per capita than BOP institutions in three quarters of the categories we examined…” The Justice Department concluded that federal private prisons were less safe, secure, and did not save substantial money. This decision does not apply yet to immigration detention facilities or private state prisons.

State private prisons were also having problems. Ohio is an example of the ineffectiveness of state private prisons. In 2011, Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the United States, started managing the Lake Erie Correctional Institution. By 2012, Ohio state audits revealed inadequate staffing, negligent medical treatment, and “unacceptable living conditions” inside the prison. The deplorable conditions included inmates lacking access to running water and toilets. Because of the violations,Ohio docked the company nearly $500,000.

Colorado and Mississippi are ending their use of private prisons.

“I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better,” Trump told MSNBC in March.

We do know that President elect Trump campaigned on deporting millions of illegal immigrants which means more prisoners and more prisons.

We already have almost 2.4 million inmates in our local, state, and federal jails-prisons. During the last decade, studies have shown too many low level drug offenders received lengthy sentences under harsh laws that started with our so called, “War on Drugs.” Excessive sentences was one factor creating our mass incarceration crisis.

President-elect Trump picked Alabama Senator Sessions for attorney general. Senator Sessions was one of the few Republican senators who blocked a bipartisan bill that would reduce lengthy sentences for low-level drug offenders.

It has only been 3 weeks since the election, but the signs do not look good for criminal justice reform.

By: Brad Schwartz
Founder of

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10 Responses to Prison Reform under Trump?

  1. PrisonPath December 5, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

    William— It is an insider trading conspiracy Brad! The comparative empirical studies that exist on Private/Public facilities are just plain minuscule in size. There are usually no control comparisons for jurisdiction size, level of crowding, inmate age mix, inmate health mix, and immigration status and facility design. When you use small comparisons, you get bad results. These places have been around for 30 years but no real data exists. I too can site studies that say there is little difference between private and public. The DOJ compared and did an “apples and oranges” false comparison. For anyone that actually works in one of our nation’s jails and prisons, they know the difference in clientele. This was nothing but pandering to the pressure of reformers.

  2. PrisonPath December 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    William– And mind you I have repeatedly stated I am not a fan of private prisons but they are necessary. Even the Federal GAO agrees there is no baseline or fair comparison. The comparability problem boils down to differences in inmate populations; difficult populations, luck of draw, the most common restriction in contracts is on inmates with special medical mental health needs and of course immigration. We also do not have data on costs and quality measured together at the same time. One may cost less but cut quality and vice versa. But until a better solution is found, private will be around for awhile.

  3. PrisonPath December 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    And that is a shame!

  4. PrisonPath December 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    Richard–We need to put policies and a vision before trump when it comes to prisons, sentences, reducing recidivism, and getting them into jobs.
    Unfortunately , prisons have become a holding pen and a money maker for government and private companies .
    Real rehabilitation has vanished over the years

  5. PrisonPath December 5, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

    Todd– Like anything else there are very good public facilities and some that have opportunity to do better. There are some very good private facilities and some that line there public partners that have opportunity to do better. This is true across all local, state and federal agencies. If anything the private facilities operate to a higher standard because of the scrutiny and multiple audits they face, monthly , quarterly and annually. A issue in a private facility makes the front page in every paper across the U. S. The same type issue in a public facility get three lines on page 6 in the local paper. Public safety is everyone’s goal. Security is a must but in addition to that you must have a vibrant education program, mental health program and re-entry services to prepare offenders for release. I would encourage people to visit facilities and or volunteer before forming opinions based on media rhetoric. You may be surprised to find them running better than your local high school.

  6. PrisonPath December 5, 2016 at 5:46 pm #

    ron– I have never worked in a private run prison,but I did work in a state run prison for 13+ years(in Ohio)I recall the private run”mistake by the lake”!They pay the officers& all the staff very little and expect a lot from them.This is a tough job,prison work is hard on the staff,very stressful.2010 the private prison’s claimed they could feed an inmate for $.68 per day, what it comes down to you get what you pay for.Especially staff wages & benefits,remember all inmates are not poor when they are locked up,(it is easy to bribe an officer who only makes$12.75 an hour and no retirement benifits)compared to a state correction officer making$24-26 an hour and they have a very stable retirement.You really do get what you pay for!Show less

  7. PrisonPath December 5, 2016 at 5:46 pm #

    Harold– There would be no need for private prisons if State and Federal prisons were funded. There need to be an overhaul of the sentencing process for non-violent crimes. The War On Drugs have overloaded the jails and prisons. There need to be a shift in policy. Instead of criminalize our non-violent offenders, offer them help, instead of locking up our mentally ill provide them medical treatment. Private prisons are for profit and that means keeping the beds full.

  8. PrisonPath December 5, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

    Alawode– Reformation of Prison inmates in very important

  9. PrisonPath December 5, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

    Keven– I agree with Mr. Samson, in that we need to get informed persons in front of President Elect Trump to educate him quickly, before he makes serious life changing mistakes with tax dollars.

  10. PrisonPath December 5, 2016 at 5:49 pm #

    Sherri–There is a lot of talk here about educating the president elect, and that’s great. But how about educating the public and advocates alike, who seem to be woefully misinformed about how prisons are run and what crimes the inmates are actually convicted of? I am consistently stunned by the number of people who seem to think the prisons are full of harmless pot-smokers.

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