Aug 19, 2016
VT Digger

Suzi Wizowaty: DOJ makes right call on private prisons

By now you’ve heard the news: The U.S. Department of Justice will stop using private prisons. The price of stock in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and The GEO Group, the two largest private prison companies, plunged 25 percent within a few hours of the announcement Thursday. By the end of the day, the nonprofit group In the Public Interest listed CCA stock’s drop in value as 50 percent and GEO Group’s at 35 percent.

It’s wonderful news and may seem to come out of the blue. But it follows last week’s release of a report by the DOJ that reiterated what advocates have been documenting for years: Private prisons are both less safe and less effective than those run by the government.

Chief among those advocates is the Texas-based group, Grassroots Leadership, which over the past two years has also partnered with Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform to highlight Vermont’s practice of shipping men out of state to private prisons. (In July 2015, Vermont’s “overflow” prisoners were moved from a CCA-owned prison in Kentucky to a GEO Group prison in Baldwin, Michigan.) [node:read-more:link]

Jul 14, 2015

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

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."


A Tale of Two States: Washington and Vermont sign contracts to ship prisoners to Michigan

Two weeks ago we were disappointed to learn that both Washington state and Vermont awarded contracts to private prison corporation, GEO Group, to house overflow prisoners at the long-shuttered North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, MI.

This is concerning not only because of GEO’s particularly egregious history at the Baldwin private prison, but also because shipping prisoners out-of-state for profit is regressive and harmful criminal justice policy.

It allows state leaders to ignore root causes of prison overcrowding and delay desperately needed sustainable reform. Shipping prisoners far away severs critical ties to family and community, compounding the already devastating effects of isolation felt by people who experience incarceration. It places enormous emotional and financial burdens on the families and loved ones of those shipped away. All the while, private prison corporations rake in profits for every prison bed they can fill. 

Advocates Oppose New Private Prison Contract to House Vermonters Out-of-State

(Burlington, VT) — The Vermont Department of Corrections announced today the signing of a new contract with private, for-profit prison corporation, the GEO Group, to house Vermont prisoners at the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, MI. Vermont prisoners currently housed in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) prisons in KY and AZ will be transferred to the Baldwin facility this summer. [node:read-more:link]

Dec 10, 2014
The Commons Online

Prison-reform activists seek return of inmates Vermont, national grassroots organizations partner to bring prisoners closer to home

Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform and Grassroots Leadership, a national nonprofit based in Austin, Texas, is partnering on “Locked Up & Shipped Away,” a campaign that aims to halt the state’s practice of shipping prisoners out of state.

Grassroots Leadership released its report “Locked Up & Shipped Away: Paying the Price for Vermont’s Response to Prison Overcrowding,” on Dec. 3 at a press conference at the Marlboro College Graduate Center. [node:read-more:link]

Dec 3, 2014
Burlington Free Press

Report: Out-of-state inmates risk re-offense

Grassroots Leadership, a social justice group, released a report at the Statehouse press conference on the costs and consequences of sending inmates to private prisons in other states in response to prison overcrowding.

The report— "Locked Up & Shipped Away: Paying the Price for Vermont's Response to Prison Overcrowding" — says an over-reliance on out-of-state private prisons cuts ties between prisoners and families, which are critical to keeping inmates from reoffending. It also says shipping inmates out-of-state is costly to families, emotionally and financially. A little less than 500 Vermont inmates are currently incarcerated out of state, mostly in Kentucky. [node:read-more:link]

Dec 3, 2014
Valley News

Report released on housing inmates out-of-state

Criminal justice reform advocates and family members of inmates urged Vermont on Wednesday to stop sending inmates out-of-state to for-profit prisons.

Grassroots Leadership, a social justice group, released a report at the Statehouse press conference on the costs and consequences of sending inmates to private prisons in other states in response to prison overcrowding. [node:read-more:link]

Dec 3, 2014
The Barre Montpelier Times Argus

Report urges bringing Vt. prisoners home

A new report recommends taking steps to bring home Vermont’s out-of-state prison population. Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based group that advocates the end of for-profit prisons, released a study Wednesday calling for reforms to sentencing and supervision policies, expansion of drug and mental health treatment and a greater focus on transitional housing.

Dec 3, 2014

Advocates Identify Ways to Reduce Vermont’s Prison Population

VCJR is drafting a bill to reduce inmate populations, in hopes of getting a lawmaker to sponsor it. The group also released a study produced with Texas-based national group Grassroots Leadership, which is pushing for the end of private prisons across the country.

The study focuses on Vermont’s out-of-state prison population and advocates for an end to the practice. “This policy is a costly Band-Aid,” said Holly Kirby, who produced the study. [node:read-more:link]


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