BREAKING: United States Will Stop Using For-Profit Prisons

(Photo Credit: Stephen Lam / Reuters)
(Photo Credit: Stephen Lam / Reuters)

The Justice Department announced today that the United States will stop using for-profit prisons. The decision comes just a week after a report revealed that private prisons are less cost-effective and less safe than public prisons.

For those of us committed to fighting America’s “carceral state” — where nearly 1 in every 100 Americans are in jail —  this is an important step in the right direction. Private prisons — where roughly 12% of all American prisoners are held — accrue a disproportionately high number of safety and security incidents each year compared to their public counterparts, in part because regulatory oversight of the day-to-day goings-on in these prisons is minimal.

People of colour are vastly overrepresented in our nation’s prison population. But, studies also show that people of colour — defined as “Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and non-white Hispanic or Latino” are even more overrepresented in our nation’s for-profit prisons. In California, where for-profit prisons picked up additional inmates after the state faced overcrowding of its public facilities, 89% of prisoners in a private facility are non-White, compared to 76% in a public prison.

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Donate to support education of API prisoners!

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I’m a runner, and I write an AAPI political advocacy blog. How could I not be all about this campaign?

In California, the API prisoner community has more than doubled in the last twenty years, and men and women of several Asian American and Pacific Islander ethnicities — including Samoans, Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians — have particularly high arrest rates in California. Yet, many of these men and women are racially classified as “Other” in that state, resulting in our community’s high incarceration rate being often overlooked in social programs aimed at preventing recidivism (all information from APSC website).

The Asian Prisoner Support Committee — supported by Chinese for Affirmative Action — is in the final days of a crowdsourced campaign to raise money for their program, ROOTS (Restoring Our Original Selves). ROOTS is a weekly class held in San Quentin (and also includes an offshoot program held in Oakland) for current and formerly incarcerated AAPI men and women; it seeks to improve knowledge and awareness of AAPI history and culture through guest lectures, leadership classes, and workshops. The purpose of ROOTS is to improve integration of current and former AAPI prisoners into the community through education and healing.

A team of eight runners are running at a local race to try and raise awareness and funds to buy teaching materials for the ROOTS program. They have two days to raise an additional $2000.

Running for heart health and to advance the education of Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies and to address mass incarceration and recidivism rates? Where is the down-side?

If you have a few extra dollars kicking around, please donate to this campaign. Why? Because it is awesome.