“Profit” is a dirty word to most progressives. By their reckoning, if something makes a profit it must be greedy, and if it’s greedy it must be bad. Therefore, profits must be bad. This logic flies in the face of the facts, and few examples of this make the point better than prisons.
Private prisons allow states and federal agencies to house inmates more affordably than at state-run institutions. They are usually considered to be better operated with lower recidivism rates and better conditions for inmates. They also act as a buffer to prevent prison overpopulation. But there’s a stigma attached to them that makes no sense. Opponents say the profit-incentive means they want prisoners to stay longer or for them to return after release. These are silly arguments as these prisons have very little control over who resides in their facilities, and as noted before, the recidivism rate is generally lower.
But if profit is being made, progressives assume there must be something nefarious behind the operations. Such is the case in California, whose state legislature just passed AB32 with a signature expected from Governor Newsom soon enough.
The private prison industry is set to be upended after California lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday banning the facilities from operating in the state. The move will probably also close down four large immigration detention facilities that can hold up to 4,500 people at a time.
The legislation is being hailed as a major victory for criminal justice reform because it removes the profit motive from incarceration. It also marks a dramatic departure from California’s past, when private prisons were relied on to reduce crowding in state-run facilities.
A major policy point for Democrats recently has been criminal justice reform. Their goal is to reduce the time spent by criminals in jail, a goal that defies its own logic. Lighter sentencing has never been shown to reduce crime. If anything, it makes it more enticing for criminals to commit more crimes while putting them back on the streets sooner. One of the arguments for criminal justice reform is our prisons being overcrowded. This bill seems to contradict that notion as it will only exacerbate the problem.
“When California’s prison system capacity was at 200% and conditions were so challenging as to be deemed unconstitutional, companies like ours were one of the solutions the state turned to,” said Brandon Bissel, a CoreCivic spokesperson.
It isn’t just criminals who are going to be affected. Illegal immigrants are currently being detained in private facilities in California, and the bill was amended to include them for banning. ICE currently contracts with two facilities in the state that house illegal aliens set for deportation. The facilities that will be affected by the bill are in even more dire straits than other private prisons because their contracts end next year. This will cause tremendous problems for ICE as they must relocate or expedite the deportation of thousands of illegal immigrants.
No, that’s not a good thing. Currently the budgets are designed to remove illegal immigrants in ways that make fiscal sense. By forcing them to act more quickly, it will increase costs dramatically.
As usual, Democrats in California are passing legislation from the heart without taking into account logic, analysis, or common sense. This decision will come back to bite the state as prison overpopulation and premature release become rampant.
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