74 Nat'l Law. Guild Rev. 19 (2017-2018)
Sessions' Reversal of the Private Prison Phase-out

handle is hein.journals/guild74 and id is 21 raw text is: 




Laura  Riley
                                       SESSIONS'   REVERSAL OF THE
                                       PRIVATE   PRISON   PHASE-OUT

 The degree of civilization in a society can be judged
 by entering its prisons
                                        - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

     No more than a month after President Donald J. Trump came into office,
his newly appointed Attorney General, Jeff Sessions reversed' an executive
policy established by the Obama  Administration2 only six months prior,
reducing federal use of private prisons. Around the same time, two classes
of what could be 60,000 immigrant  detainees sued one of the federal gov-
ernment's biggest private prison contractors for using them as forced labor
and other abuses. Sessions' reversal of the private prison phase-out makes
it clear that the current administration does not acknowledge a link between
private prisons and civil rights violations. Indeed, Sessions' reversal ensures
continued harm' by continuing to fund such abuses.
     The Trump  Administration's about-face brings the humanitarian crisis
underlying the private corrections industry into plain view-or, at least it
should. With the current administration's refusal to deal with civil rights viola-
tions in private prisons it is up to the people of the United States to notice and
respond to the civil rights abuses that occur within the privatized criminal
justice system-a system rooted in our country's racism and anti-immigrant
sentiment. If we don't, we will soon arrive at a new height of injustice.
     This article presents a brief history of the United States' use of private
prisons, which has been relatively short in duration when compared to its
other longstanding penal schemes and systems. It will also introduce the major
private prison corporations and analyze their market share and strategies, with
particular focus on how these corporations' political contributions affect that
market share. Next, it looks at the human toll wrought by these companies
over the past decade, examining the various civil rights violations that have
occurred at private prisons as well as the litigation ensuing from those abuses.
     It will then examine and compare the Obama Administration's phase-out
policy with the Trump Administration's revised stance. These approaches
will be viewed side-by-side with stock price comparisons of the major private
prison companies, which will reveal the effects that certain political mile-

Laura Riley is a Lecturer-in-Law at the University of Southern California Gould School
of Law, Los Angeles, California.

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