Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill That Would Ban Private Prisons   ... back >
Sept. 17, 2015 - Senators running for president must balance their campaigns and their work in the Senate, but at the same the are able to introduce legislation and advance policies which reinforce their messages on the campaign trail.  Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) announced the Justice Is Not for Sale Act, which would prevent federal, state and local governments from contracting with private prison companies within two years of its enactment.   The bill would also reinstate the U.S. Parole Commission.  It would ensure inmates are charged reasonable rates for phone and video services.  Further, the bill would end the immigration detention "bed quota," which requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold an average of 34,000 detainees daily (+).  Sanders acknowledged that this bill would not address the underlying problems of crime, but said it would do away with the "perverse incentive" of private prison companies.  According to Sanders' office, in 2013 8.4 percent of the 1.6 million peope incarcerated in federal and state prisons in 2013 were in private facilities. [press release / statement]

Criminal justice reform has gained currency as a topic in the 2016 presidential campaign.  Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has made criminal justice reform one of his signature issues, and has introduced a variety of legislation; for example to address overly harsh sentencing non-violent offenses.  Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton focused on criminal justice reform in her first policy speech of the campaign (+).
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