Locked Up and #ShippedAway Campaign


The for-profit prison industry enables states with overcrowded prisons to ship prisoners across state lines, rather than prioritize addressing root causes of mass incarceration.  Today, four states collectively lock up nearly 10,000 prisoners in for-profit prisons far from home.  We strive for a system that keeps families together and provides opportunities for rehabilitation, not one that is motivated by corporate profit. Our Locked Up and #ShippedAway Campaign is about elevating the voices of people directly affected by out-of-state incarceration and challenging the idea that shipping prisoners out-of-state is an acceptable remedy for prison overcrowding. We are supporting advocates to push state leaders to reduce the number of people behind bars instead of shipping them away — out of sight and out of mind.

Click HERE to check out our campaign page on Nation Inside and ADD YOUR NAME to join the fight against sending prisoners far from home for profit!

Related Posts

Sep 12, 2017
Texas Observer

The Road to Huntsville by Jorge Antonio Renaud

Jorge Renaud, community organizer with the Texas Advocates for Justice at Grassroots, published an essay in the Texas Observer titled "The Road to Huntsville" on his experience riding "chain buses" over fifteen times to the Huntsville prison. Renaud writes with profundity and clarity on the absurd treatment of prisoners by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and the resilience he claimed for his own transformation. "There is no mystery or romance to prison, not to the iron or stink or violent hopelessness that seeps into its very air, and certainly not to the means of transport by which people arrive or are transferred between the 110 or so TDCJ units... Still, despite all its cruelties, the 1,400-mile 'bus therapy' meant to punish me had the opposite effect. I was away from cages and cacophony when on the chain, and I always accepted the discomfort of bus rides as a welcome respite from the numbing monotony of prison, the rocking bus and green countryside rejuvenating my spirit. Transformation finds few footholds in steel. Life in a cage too often leads to self-pity, not self-improvement. People who are incarcerated understand and struggle with those truths. We seek spaces where the spirit does not recoil: a few moments in a library, a recreation yard quieted by the rain. For me it was the road; the fact that my wrists were bound by iron made little difference."
May 19, 2017
The VT Digger

Prisoners in Pennsylvania is not the solution


Vermont inmates are now going to Pennsylvania. That’s good news … or is it? Vermont recently signed a three-year contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to house Vermont inmates.

Let us not forget, too, the transportation of the inmates from Baldwin, Michigan, to Pennsylvania. There was areport by Grassroots Leadership in conjunction with Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform in 2013, in which an inmate describes the transportation process: “John, (who preferred we did not use his real name) was transferred to a private prison in Kentucky in 2006, said he had no clue what was happening when officers came into his Vermont cell in the middle of the night, told him to get up and grab his things, and refused to answer when asked where he was going. Shackled to the person next to him, he endured the 36-hour bus ride, still without any idea where he would end up …” The transport process sounds like an awful process, filled with inhumane treatment; in my view the only transport for these men should be back to Vermont. Other men soiled themselves because they could only use the facilities when allowed, even in emergencies. The report went on to state: “The transfer to Kentucky stripped John of access to rehabilitative programs, which simply did not exist at the private prison in Kentucky. Now out of prison and back in Vermont, John regularly advocates for prisoners’ rights, and said, ‘This practice of transferring inmates out-of-state is horrendous. You’re taking people who, whatever support network they may have, is gone. The truth of the matter is [that as an incarcerated person] you’re alone. You’re isolated.’”

Vermont is not only promoting this kind of treatment, in the transfer of inmates, but is continuously allowing inmates to be warehoused with little or no opportunity to work on programs that help them with the reintegration process. [node:read-more:link]

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]

Grassroots Leadership responds to private prison corporations' statements to investors

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Today, Grassroots Leadership responded to investor conference calls held last week by private prison corporations Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group.   In the calls, company executives reported on earnings from 2016’s second quarter and spoke of the financial outlook moving forward.

“These statements show that policy reforms that are good for immigrants, good for those tied up in the criminal justice system, and good for taxpayers are bad for private prison corporations,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership.   “Policy-makers should prioritize reforms that reduce the number of people behind bars and , not policies that line the pockets of private prison corporation executives.” [node:read-more:link]

Feb 2, 2016
The Crime Report

'Locked Up and Shipped Away'

The number of inmates transferred to private prisons outside their home states decreased by about 3,000 between 2013 and 2015, but for-profit prisons  continue to delay prison reform, according to a report published by the advocacy group Grassroots Leadership.

The January 2016 brief, entitled “Locked Up & Shipped Away: Interstate Prisoner Transfers and the Private Prison Industry,” is an update to a November 2013 report which found more than 10,500 inmates from Vermont, California, Idaho, and Hawaii were incarcerated outside their home states—a number which had declined to 7,300 by 2015 due to reforms implemented in some of the states. However, one additional state—Arkansas—started transferring inmates out-of-state within the last two years.

The decline in California prisoners being transferred out-of-state (a 37 percent drop over two years) can be attributed in part to the 2011 Public Safety Realignment, the author of the study, Holly Kirby, said in an email. She added that the decline in Vermont can be attributed in part to the work of advocacy groups such as Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform.

“While decreasing the number of prisoners sent to for-profit prisons across state lines is a step in the right direction, work remains to reduce incarceration and end the practice entirely. States should also avoid building new prisons, utilizing beds in local jails, or contracting with public facilities in other jurisdictions as strategies for addressing prison overcrowding,” Kirby writes in the conclusion. “These strategies do not aim to reduce reliance on criminalization and incarceration and they perpetuate the mass incarceration crisis, which disproportionately harms the poor and communities of color.” [node:read-more:link]

Sep 17, 2015
eNews Park Forest

'Justice Is Not For Sale': Bernie Sanders Leads Charge Against For-Profit Prisons

Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based national organization working to end prison profiteering and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention, hailed the legislation as "a major stride toward a justice system that is obliged to put human beings over private interests."

"As long as there are corporate financial incentives for locking people up and keeping them behind bars, reforming drug laws and other sentencing policies will produce limited results for  meaningfully decreasing the astronomical rate of incarceration in this country," said Kymberlie Quong Charles, criminal justice programs director for Grassroots Leadership. [node:read-more:link]

Sep 17, 2015
Huffington Post

Bernie Sanders Wants To End Private Prisons. That's Really Ambitious.

WASHINGTON -- Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation on Thursday that promises to ban government contracts for privately run prisons and jails within three years. Implementing such a plan would be an ambitious effort, as it would give authorities more than 100,000 additional inmates to manage -- the number held in private facilities as of 2013. The bill's immigration provisions are similarly bold.

"We have got to do everything that we can as a nation to end that reality of locking up so many people, and we have got to do it as rapidly as possible," Sanders said at a press conference on Thursday.

The Justice Is Not For Sale Act, introduced in the House by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and other lawmakers, would ban federal, state and local governments from contracting with private companies to run prisons and other detention facilities. Within three years, facilities housing prisoners must be under government control. 


The bed mandate and use of private prison contractors, in particular, are incentives for immigration agents to apprehend and detain as many people as possible, according to advocates for reform. The government is required to maintain 34,000 beds to hold immigrants who are undergoing deportation proceedings. 

Officials say they consider that mandate to refer to having the capacity to detain that number, not actually having those beds full at all times. But more people in detention means more money for the companies housing immigrants awaiting deportation, because 62 percent of beds are in privately run facilities, according to the civil rights group Grassroots Leadership. [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."