"On the Draft": How Prisoners Suffer During and After Prison Transfers

July 14, 2015

Out-of-state prison transfers are also a key factor enabling the growth of the private prison industry, according to Grassroots Leadership, an organization based in Austin, Texas, that opposes profit from human incarceration. In November 2013, Grassroots Leadership's criminal justice organizer, Holly Kirby, compiled a report called Locked Up and Shipped Away, which documented the extent to which prisoners from state prisons were being sent to out-of-state private prisons.

Kirby found a total of four states, Vermont, Idaho, Hawai'i and California, that contracted with out-of-state private prisons to receive a portion of the population from their overflowing facilities, adding up to over 10,500 prisoners at the time of writing. Overall, she found that there are few laws governing interstate transfers and little oversight over the extent of the practice. ...

In a conversation with Truthout, Kirby used Vermont as an example of the ways transfers enable the growth of private prisons while simultaneously allowing states to put off fixing the issues that lead to over-incarceration.

"It's a tiny state; it's known as a progressive state, but for 20 years they've been sending prisoners out of state," she told me. "If they couldn't send prisoners out of state, they'd be forced to make real reforms, but because private prisons offer this option, it really allows the states to delay doing anything."