The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Worth Rises and Color Of Change Demand Biden-Harris Administration End Prison Profiteering

Advocates release a new policy blueprint with key recommendations to end prison profiteering in all aspects of the criminal legal system

Today, Worth Rises and Color Of Change released a new policy blueprint calling on the Biden-Harris administration to stop corporations from profiteering off of incarceration. Corporate exploitation throughout the carceral system harms incarcerated people, their loved ones and communities, and taxpayers and public safety at large. On the campaign trail and throughout his administration, President Biden committed to “stop[ping] corporations from profiteering off of incarceration.” On January 26, 2021, the Biden-Harris administration took the first step in fulfilling this commitment by issuing an executive order to end the Department of Justice’s reliance on private prisons. But the 14,000 people incarcerated in federal private prisons represent a small fraction of the nearly 155,000 people currently detained across all federal prisons. Further, this guidance does not apply to state and local facilities or immigration detention centers, which house the majority of the 2 million people incarcerated in the United States.

“Prisons and jails are a business — one that is threatening our families, communities, and public safety,” said Bianca Tylek, executive director of Worth Rises, the nation’s leading organization working to dismantle the prison industry. “Over the last 40 years, the carceral system has grown into a vast network of corporations that use public-private partnerships to profit from the incarceration of our grandparents, parents, siblings, children, and other loved ones. They have created a carceral crisis and collected the windfalls on the taxpayers’ dime while the rest of us suffered. This policy blueprint provides the clearest roadmap for fulfilling the promise of justice that the Biden-Harris administration made and many expect it to meet.”

Whether confined in private or government-run facilities, incarcerated individuals and their families are vulnerable to exploitation by corporations operating in every sector of the carceral system. Two years after President Biden’s commitment, the scale of the exploitation remains tremendous and demonstrates why this administration must take more aggressive measures toward ending this injustice.

The Policy Blueprint for Ending Carceral Profiteering released by Worth Rises and Color Of Change details system-wide policy changes and administration actions within the following carceral sectors: healthcare, food and commissary, telecommunications, financial services, electronic monitoring, and labor. Demands include:

  • Eliminate the use of private profiteers from Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities and the federal immigration detention system
  • Issue guidance to states to end profiteering at the state and local level and publicly support relevant legislation that eliminates private profiteering within the prison system
  • Condition grants and funding on the implementation of best practices to avoid profiteering at the state and local level
  • Use its investigatory and regulatory powers to hold corporations profiting off of incarcerated persons and their loved ones accountable
  • Improve research and reporting to increase transparency and determine the extent of corporate profiteering in the carceral system

“Every year, politicians choose to protect corporations as they gouge, fleece and scam incarcerated people and their families," said Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change. “Government policies protect blatantly abusive profiteering instead of helping to end it, which enables corporations like Securus, Aramark, Corizon, and JPAY to use the criminal justice system as a cash cow, stealing billions of dollars from our communities. People ask what structural racism is. This is it. Our Blueprint provides a clear path of action for President Biden and all public officials who believe these financial attacks on our communities must end. We outline a clear set of steps for eliminating superfluous and inflated fees, revising the terms of government contracts with corporations to prevent gouging, and more. The incarcerated people and families that corporations have targeted with these profiteering practices know all their tricks, inside and out. This Blueprint reflects their unique knowledge about what is happening and how to stop it."

Color Of Change is the nation's largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over one million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.