Locked Up & Shipped Away: New report exposes private prisons profiting from sending prisons far from home
by Holly Kirby, Grassroots Leadership, November 20, 2013
Today, Grassroots Leadership is proud to announce a new report, Locked Up and Shipped Away: Interstate Prisoner Transfer and the Private Prison Industry. The exposé examines the shameful practice of shipping incarcerated people across state lines to for-profit private prisons.
Currently, four states - California, Idaho, Vermont, and Hawai'i - collectively ship 10,500 prisoners to for-profit prisons outside their home states. West Virginia is developing a plan to do the same. This practice is often devastating for families of those incarcerated. One family member of a California prisoner incarcerated out of state told us:
"Families feel helpless, their hands are tied. I spoke to my son's counselor ... and he assured me that my son was going to be moved to Sacramento, closer to home. But when we drove four hours to visit, that very week, he wasn't there, he was involuntarily moved to Arizona."
While shipping prisoners away hurts families, it also funnels hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars every year into the for-profit prison industry. Today conducted a telefonic press conference with advocates in all four states that send prisoners out-of-state along with family members of those incarcerated calling for the end of this shameful practice. Here's what they have shared on the practice of shipping prisoners from their states across state lines:
“When he is released into society we are the one who will be his support, we are the ones who will encourage him to finish college, get a job and never go back to prison. But we are losing touch, we are losing the battle.” - Danielle Rigney whose incarcerated son was involuntarily transferred from California to Arizona
“Our people and their families have been moved around like chess pieces -- sold to the lowest bidder, in essence. I hear the anguish of families, of children who miss their daddies, of wives struggling to keep their families together and the desperation of people trying to locate their loved ones.” - Kat Brady of the Community Alliance on Prisons in Hawai’i
"Idaho's experience with transferring incarcerated people to private prisons both in Idaho and out of state should serve as a cautionary tale. The solution to Idaho's prison crisis is to reduce our prison population, not to ship people away to be incarcerated for profit in another state." - Monica Hopkins, ACLU of Idaho
“Transferring prisoners out of the state of California has been an ineffective band-aid for our state’s overcrowded prison crisis. In a moment when we have an opportunity to demand sustainable prison population reduction strategies that would actually shrink the prisoner population, our ability to house prisoners in other states creates an 'out' and a distraction from the root of the problem and moves us away from real reform.” - Diana Zuniga of Californians United for a Responsible Budget.
Related: Abercrombie Administration Solicits Plans for Seven New Prisons