Congressmen Cleaver and Gutiérrez Announce Major Criminal Justice Reform Victory
(Washington, D.C.) - Congressmen Emanuel Cleaver, II and Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) applaud the news today that one of the largest private prison systems in the United States has agreed to their request to support criminal justice reform efforts.
Earlier this year, Congressman Cleaver (D-MO) and Congressmen Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) sent a letter to the CEO's of Core Civic and The Geo Group, INC urging the private prison CEO’s to back national criminal justice reform efforts. In the letter, which can be found here, to CEO Damon Hininger and CEO George Zoley, the Congressmen stated,
"Your organizations have often publicly said that you do not support positions that lead to enhanced incarceration, but in supporting a President who is implementing policies designed to increase the populations of individuals in both criminal and immigration detention, you are advocating for policies that deprive people of their liberty in order for you to increase your profits," "We believe this is immoral and unjust,"...
Today, Core Civic responded to the letter announcing a stepped-up effort to lobby for government programs and policies to keep former inmates from returning behind bars. Core Civic listed several steps to achieve this goal on their website. Among the concrete steps, the company said it will advocate for "ban the box" policies to keep employers from asking about a job applicant's criminal history until after an initial interview. "Ban the box" policies have been put in place for state workers in 29 states. Nine states have removed the conviction history question from private employer job applications, according to the National Employment Law Project. Of the 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005, 77 percent were re-arrested within five years, and more than half returned to prison, a federal study found. Roughly 70 million Americans have an arrest or a conviction record.
Other steps announced by Core Civic;
• It will spend $250 million on a network of community corrections centers to help keep people out of prison.
• The company said it also will lobby to protect employers who hire former inmates from negligent-hiring lawsuits; to support re-entry programs and their funding; and to support private recidivism programs in which governments only have to pay contractors if certain goals are met.
“We hope our support for these policies sends a powerful message to state capitals and our nation’s capital that there is broad consensus around tackling our country’s recidivism crisis,” said Tony Grande, CoreCivic executive vice president and chief development officer.
“We just wanted to put these companies on notice that the American people are watching and that profiting from incarceration has moral consequences,” Congressman Gutiérrez said.
“I am pleased that Core Civic heeded our call for change. As members of large African American and Latino districts, this affects our communities greatly. Reducing the recidivism rate will not only improve our communities but will help strengthen our economy by putting people to work,” said Congressman Cleaver.
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