Yesterday, Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced that she will no longer accept campaign contributions from lobbyists who represent private prison companies. The former secretary of state, who is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency, also pledged to end the government’s contracting with private facilities.
“Hillary Clinton has said we must end the era of mass incarceration, and as president, she will end private prisons and private immigrant detention centers,” campaign spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement. “She believes that we should not contract out this core responsibility of the federal government, and when we’re dealing with a mass incarceration crisis, we don’t need private industry incentives that may contribute—or have the appearance of contributing—to over-incarceration.”
Vice reported earlier this month that the Ready for Hillary PAC has already collected more than $133,000 in donations from private prison lobbyists. The two major companies whose interests they represent—GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America—operate several detention centers, including those that house immigrants. Clinton said that money her campaign has received directly from lobbyists and PACs affiliated with the prison industry will be donated to an unnamed cause. The change has already been added to her campaign website. From the page titled “Criminal Justice Reform”:
As president, Hillary will work to reform our criminal justice system by changing the way we approach punishment and prison. She will reform mandatory minimum sentences for low-level nonviolent offenses, increase support for mental health and drug treatment, pursue alternative punishments for low-level offenders, and end private prisons. The campaign does not accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists or PACs for private prison companies, and will donate any such direct contributions to charity.
The other Democratic candidates have also spoken out on mass incarceration and criminal justice reform. Bernie Sanders recently introduced a bill that would ban the federal government from contracting with private prisons. And Martin O’Malley’s criminal justice reform policy also calls for eliminating federal contracts.