Locked up and Shipped Away: Interstate Prisoner Transfers & the Private Prison IndustryHolly Kirby / Grassroots Leadership / November 18, 2013
Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- The Private For-Profit Prison Industry Thrives on Overcrowded Prisons
- Private Prison Companies Enable and Profit from Interstate Transfers of Prisoners
- Today’s Interstate Prisoner Transfer Landscape
- Interstate Prisoner Transfers Undermine Family Connections and the Right to Rehabilitation
- Oversight and Liability
Executive SummaryGrassroots Leadership is a 33-year-old Southern-based national social justice organization that works to end for-profit incarceration and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention through direct action, organizing, research, and public education. For the past 13 years, Grassroots Leadership has worked with criminal justice reform, faith, labor, social justice, human rights, civil liberties, and student organizations to build bridges between communities to increase the capacity of local leaders and coalitions, mobilize opposition to privatization of prisons, and transform the immigration and justice systems.
As part of the ongoing efforts to create truly just public safety policy, this report examines state governments’ practice of transferring incarcerated people out of their home states to for-profit private prisons across the United States.
- Interstate transfer of prisoners, or the practice of transferring incarcerated people to out-of-state prisons, is detrimental criminal justice policy that hurts families. The practice impedes prisoner rehabilitation by diminishing prisoners’ ties to family and community, compromising rather than enhancing the public good.
- Interstate transfers of prisoners to private for-profit prisons serve the interests of an industry that views prisoners as commodities and perpetuate our nation’s mass incarceration crisis.
- Today there are more than 10,500 state prisoners incarcerated in private for-profit prisons outside of their home states.
- Currently, four states – California, Vermont, Idaho, and Hawai’i – house prisoners in out-of-state private prisons, while West Virginia is moving forward with a plan that could move up to 400 prisoners to private out-of-state prisons.
- With little public scrutiny, state officials have pointed to overcrowding as justification for sending incarcerated people to out-of-state prisons, rather than prioritizing decarceration and sustainable alternatives to incarceration to address prison overcrowding.
- The lack of state laws regulating interstate transfers of prisoners has allowed state officials to send incarcerated people to out-of-state private prisons en masse without their consent.
- Currently, prisoners in out-of-state private facilities are held approximately 450 miles to nearly 3,000 miles from their home states.
- Using the most recent available contracts and government reports, we estimate that states will collectively spend hundreds of millions of dollars this year incarcerating state prisoners in private prisons outside of their home states.