Feds Should Address the ‘Scourge’ of Private Prisons

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Photo by Anthony Albright via Flickr

The federal government should create a federal agency to oversee the administration of private prisons and give inmates in these prisons limited constitutional protections, in addition to taking legislative steps to end the War on Drugs, according to a paper forthcoming in the Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy.

While the authors of the proposal, entitled “Private Prisons and the Marketplace for Crime,” recommend eliminating private prisons altogether, they concede that “outright elimination” is currently unlikely.

“A saner and safer prison policy in the United States begins by ending the scourge of the private prison corporation and returning crime and punishment to public function. We continue by radically reimagining our sentencing policies and reducing them significantly for non-violent crimes,” argue authors Andre Douglas Pond Cummings and Adam Lamparello, who are associate deans and law professors at Indiana Tech Law School. “At their core, private prisons reflect a continuation of policies that have tainted the criminal justice system with perceptions of arbitrariness, unfairness, and injustice.”

Their suggestions include:

·        Legalizing and regulating marijuana use.

·        Providing health services to users of harder drugs.

·        Ending the criminalization of immigration.

·        Paying prisoners a fair working wage while incarcerated, and giving them access to this money—via a reentry account—upon release.

Read the proposal here.

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