Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders alleged that President Donald Trump received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for his presidential campaign from private prison companies and is now paying them back by “opening the floodgates” for them to make huge profits.
“This is how our corrupt political and campaign finance system works,” Sanders said in a press release Thursday.
Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday rolled back former President Barack Obama’s administrative memorandum that called for the gradual phasing out of private prisons. The Department of Justice had announced in August last year that it will limit private prisons as they were less safe than government facilities.
“Private prison companies invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and today they got their reward: the Trump administration reversed the Obama administration’s directive to reduce the Justice Department’s use of private prisons,” Sanders said, adding that “Trump just opened the floodgates for private prisons to make huge profits by building more prisons and keeping even more Americans in jail.”
GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies, donated at least $100,000 to a Super PAC supporting Trump, and another $5,000 to a nonprofit handling Trump’s transition. Along with another for-profit prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, GEO also gave over $1.6 million to the Republican Governors Association. This organization funded Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign for the post of the governor of Indiana.
Sanders has been a vocal critic of private prisons and in 2015, introduced a bill to ban such facilities.
“We cannot fix our criminal justice system if corporations are allowed to profit from mass incarceration,” he said at the time. “Keeping human beings in jail for long periods of time must no longer be an acceptable business model in America.”
Looking to end the “private prison racket” in the country, Sanders on Thursday reiterated: "Corporations should not be profiting by incarcerating our fellow Americans.”