Private Prisons are Operating in the Shadows, Let’s Shine The Light on Them

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Did you know the U.S. has the largest private prison population in the world (you already knew we lock up more people than any other country)?

And did you know that the vast majority of immigrants and refugees in detention are held in private prisons?

Private prisons are caging children for profit, denying them basic human rights and bare necessities. It’s unconscionable.And yet, we may not even know the worst of it, because private prisons are able to operate in the shadows, shielded from accountability by a loophole in the law.

Help us fix that.

Please take action to support the Private Prison Information Act, which would require private prisons to provide the information necessary for the government to respond to FOIA requests.

The billion dollar private prison industry is expected to reap massive profits as a result of the administration’s proposal to spend billions more in federal taxpayer dollars to warehouse children and their families.

The American people, meanwhile, are left in the dark about the conditions inside these detention centers. That must change.

Congress needs to act immediately. We must demand accountability from the private prison industry, as well as federal agencies that support it.

This issue becomes ever more urgent with each passing month. In June, NBC News reported, “Almost 300 migrant children have been removed from a border patrol facility in Texas after media reports of lawyers describing ‘appalling’ and potentially dangerous conditions.” Clearly, we need more information and accountability.

There is no time to waste. Congress must start by passing legislation to force private contractors to adhere to the same public disclosure laws as their federal counterparts.

The Department of Justice Inspector General has found that federal prisons run by private companies are substantially less safe and secure than ones run by the Bureau of Prisons, making this legislation more important than ever.

As it stands, private prison companies exploit a loophole to dodge the Freedom of Information Act. That means violations of the law or abuse or mistreatment of detainees may remain hidden from public scrutiny. The lack of transparency also makes it harder to guard against waste of taxpayer dollars.

The Private Prison Information Act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), would strengthen the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act by requiring federal government agencies to comply with FOIA requests relating to private prisons, jails, or detention facilities that detain or incarcerate people for the federal government, in the same way that those agencies must comply with such requests relating to federally run facilities.

The Private Prison Information Act would create a critically important mechanism forcing non-federal entities to provide the information necessary for the government to respond to FOIA requests relating to prison and detention facilities, while still allowing for the protection of confidential information.

Act today! Help us pass the Private Prison Information Act to shine on a light on the type of conditions people are being held in throughout the United States. Demand Congress pass legislation to address this now.