December 10, 2007 -- Washington, DC – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today co-sponsored the Private Prison Information Act of 2007, legislation introduced by Senator Joe Lieberman to increase transparency and accountability at private prisons. The Private Prison Information Act of 2007 will help to prevent abuse and neglect at private prisons by requiring public disclosure of information about their operations.
“As the federal government continues to contract out the incarceration of federal prisoners, it is essential that there be public disclosure about the operation of these private prisons,” Senator Clinton said. “Right now, the public does not have the same right of access to information about private prisons as it has for federal prisons. There is a lack of accountability into how tax dollars are being spent, which can place the safety of correctional officers, surrounding communities, and prisoners at risk. This legislation will help to ensure that citizens and elected officials can properly assess the performance of private prisons and, if necessary, hold them accountable for misconduct.”
Currently, federal law does not require private prisons that house federal prisoners to disclose information to the public about the daily operation of their facilities, and many private prisons do not submit reports to the federal government. This legislation will require private prisons that house federal prisoners to provide the same information available to the public that federal prisons are required to provide under the Freedom of Information Act.
Approximately 27,000 federal criminal prisoners are serving time in private prison facilities. Additionally, more than 40,000 of the immigrants and asylum seekers that Immigration and Customs Enforcement detains each year are held in private detention centers. Studies have shown that correctional officers at privately run prisons are paid less, receive less training, and experience higher turnover rates than those at prisons run by government agencies. These differences can lead to greater rates of assaults on staff, inmate on inmate assaults, and escape attempts.
The bill is supported by a broad coalition of associations representing correctional officers and law enforcement officers and public interest and advocacy groups, including Corrections USA; the Sheriff Officers Association of Nassau County, NY.; the Suffolk County Correctional Officers Association, N.Y.; the Westchester County Correctional Superior Officers Association, N.Y.; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE); Amnesty International USA, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.All American