Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to introduce his prison reform plan in the Senate next week, calling for an end to privatized prisons.
The democratic presidential hopeful, who has been gaining ground on Hillary Clinton, said the current criminal justice system is “broken” and has made it a key issue in his campaign.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 8 percent of the total prison population is held in private prisons as of 2013. A large portion of those held in the facilities were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Vermont politician’s campaign claims.
“My legislation will eliminate federal, state and local contracts for privately run prisons within 2 years. It will reinstate the federal parole system. It will increase oversight and eliminate the overcharging of prisoners by private companies for banking and other services,” Sanders said in a statement.
Critics of the senator’s legislation argue eliminating for-profit prisons could take its toll on the American taxpayer and question the legality of Congress’ ability to abolish privatized prisons on a state and local level.
David Muhlhausen, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said unionization of correctional employees drives up the costs of federal facilities.
“The efficiency of private prisons has been studied for decades, private prisons save the taxpayer 10 percent,” he said. “As far as the taxpayer is concerned, it’s a possibility eliminating private prisons will drive up taxes.”
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