Below is an email I received from ColorofChange.org. I share because of its relevance to the burgeoning problem of #racialprofiling and #policebrutality and violence against people of color. Moreover, this letter provides insight into financial incentives underlying our system of false justice that targets those with pigment as well as motive to arrest and frame innocent people of color, most of whom are youths, mentally ill or homeless.
ColorofChange.org petition to Temple University President Theobald:
Two Temple University professors released an inaccurate study praising private prisons without revealing a major conflict of interest — private prisons funded the study.1
Unsurprisingly, the research argued in favor of for-profit imprisonment based on a number of dangerous myths — exactly the kind of inaccuracies that give the industry cover to keep exploiting Black communities for profit.
Private prisons are making a killing off the anti-black racism, abuse, and inhumanity of mass incarceration. In order to stop this shameful industry, we must expose any attempts to bolster its credibility among the public and state officials. Temple has agreed to look into a pending ethics complaint against the study, but it’s been a year and still no investigation.
Tell Temple President Neil Theobald to thoroughly investigate the pending ethics complaint, hold the authors of the study accountable, and create a new policy requiring researchers to reveal corporate funding at all stages of the research publication process. It just takes a moment.
Temple’s study was funded by the nation’s top three private prison companies: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), GEO Group, and Management Training Corp (MTC). When initially released, Professors Simon Hakim and Erwin Blackstone included no information on its private prison funding.2 It was only after advocates filed an ethics complaint that the professors were forced to reveal their funding sources,3 but the damage had already been done. Public opinion had been influenced by a number of editorials by Professors Hakim and Blackstone published in newspapers nationwide, most of which did not mention their private prison funding.4
CCA, the country’s largest private prison company, was established after its founders decided managing prisons was just like “selling cars, or real estate, or hamburgers.”5
Since then, the industry has exploded, with the number of people in private prisons increasing by 1,664%.6 These corrupt companies have played a key role in lobbying for policies that increase imprisonment and worsen today’s mass incarceration crisis, fueled by the discriminatory War On Drugs.7 Due to continued prejudice in the justice system, Black people are the most likely to be incarcerated for profit in abusive private prisons.8 In order to increase profits, for-profit prisons cut costs on key services — meaning lower staffing levels, less training for guards, abysmal health care, and increased rates of violence.9
The Temple Study is dishonest and filled with inaccuracies, which the private prison industry leverages to deflect public outrage around its unethical business practices and human rights violations.
Both CCA and GEO Group reference the Temple study in promotional materials as “independent” confirmation of the benefits of private prisons.10
A recent letter published by the ACLU reveals that Hakim and Blackstone’s methodology is deeply flawed.11 Their claims that private prison save states money fail to take into account increased state costs associated with higher recidivism rates found at private prisons, and the fact that companies get to “cherry pick” who they lock up — allowing them to choose healthier, less costly, people.
Temple University has an obligation to enforce its ethics policies and prevent corporations from funding “independent” research in secret. Please ask your friends and family to join in order to increase the power of our voices.
Thanks and Peace,
—Matt, Rashad, Arisha, Lyla, Jamar and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
July 7th, 2014
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1. “University to review ethics complaint regarding two professors,” The Temple News, 06-13-2014
2. “PLN managing editor’s Temple University ethics complaint profiled,” Prison Legal News, 06-11-2014
3. “Ethics Complaint vs. Professors Hakim and Blackstone,” Human Rights Defense Center, 06-25-2013
4. See reference 2.
5. “The Dirty Thirty: Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation of America,” Grassroots Leadership, 01-30-2013
6.”The Number of People in Private Prisons Has Grown By 1,664% in the Last 19 Years,” Policy Mic, 01-25-2013
7. “Private Prison Companies Want You Locked Up,” Justice Policy, 06-22-2011
8. “Too Good to be True: Private Prisons in America,” Sentencing Project, 01-2012
9. “The Color of Corporate Corrections, Part II: Contractual Exemptions and the Overrepresentation of People of Color in Private Prisons,” Journal of Radical Criminology, 09-2013
10. “The Case For Private Prisons,” Politico, 02-28-2014
11. “An Open Letter to the Corrections Corporation of America,” ACLU 07-1-2014