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tv   Washington Journal Carl Takei Discusses Private Prisons  CSPAN  March 4, 2017 8:03am-8:35am EST

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one. we had a big blowout and then he went to michigan. in michigan it was thrown together last-minute, the last rally of the campaign and he landed back at laguardia because he wanted to stop one more time in michigan. we knew if we could just make a for themodel that people who have not been engaged in the election process, who are fed up with the broken washington, they showed up and voted and we won. hillary clinton did not connect with the african-american community. donald trump got 80% which i know does not sound great but it is a historic number four a republican. -- for a republican. donald trump one with evangelicals and across the board. that is what nobody else saw. everybody else said he lost the day he announced and it cnn they
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are laughing at us at 5:00 in the afternoon. >> washington journal continues. us fromrl takei is with the american civil liberties aclu, better known as the here to discuss the recent justice department decision to reverse course on an obama administration directive to phase out the use of private prisons. why did the trump administration make this change and what substantively is it? guest: is a total reversal from the obama administration. in 2016 they announced a regard to phase out the use of private grisons after a damin department of justice inspector general report showing that private prisons performed worse than regular public prisons, and they could not find evidence of cost savings. the findings were terrible, i have to emphasize that. they found there were more lockdowns, nine times more
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lockdowns, excessive use of solitary confinement, poor medical care. in one case there was a private prison that went without a full-time doctor for eight months, apparently because it saved them more money to do that, then paying the fines for the understaffing that you pay the doctor. that is where the obama administration directive came from. and then when attorney general sessions was confirmed shortly thereafter, he announced he was reversing the obama administration's directive. it is not based on any new information. it is based on the ideology of the trump administration. host: we have a full screen of that statement. it says -- i hereby rescind the memorandum sent to you by former jeopardy attorney sally q you hates entitled reducing our use of private prisons. the memorandum changed
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long-standing practices. i direct the bureau to return to its previous reproach -- approach. what are your thoughts on that argument and a suggested that the future needs of the federal correction system will not be meet, suggesting there will be more enforcement? guest: the future needs part is the key to give the obama administration directive is based on the findings from the inspector general, finding that the conditions were terrible in private prisons, and two, the determination that because federal prison populations have been falling for years and they expect them to continue falling, that they will be able to do this just by slowly starting to move people from private prisons into regular federal prisons that would not cause overcrowding. if the sessions justice department is planning on putting a lot more people in prison, then that imperils that assumption. ,ost: carl takei is our guest talking about the use of the
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private prison system. if you have experience we are asking you to call (202) 748-8000. where did the obama administration plan to put the 20,000 plus prisoners who were in the private system? on thethis is premised idea that federal prison populations would continue falling as they have been. contrary to some of the statements by the attorney general, crime is at an all-time historic low across the country and has been for the past several years. 2013, thee, in federal prison population was more than 220,000 people. today it is less than 190,000. the idea behind the obama administrative directive -- and obama -- obama administrative directive, as the population begins to fall they can shut the prisons down. host: homeland security through immigrations and customs enforcement also uses the private prison system. explain that.
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guest: immigration and customs enforcement is heavily dependent on private prisons, more so than the justice department. for the two thirds of people are held in facilities run by private prison companies. this is something that under the obama administration, the department of homeland security's advisory council looked at, and actually there was a pretty contentious vote. in the end, the advisory council in december advised the department to begin a measured but deliberate phaseout of its reliance on private prisons, much in the same way as the justice department. of course that no longer applies to this administration. host: is someone undocumented is picked up by ice and put in one of these private prison corporations, what kind of setting to they encounter? guest: it is essentially indistinguishable from a prison
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or jail. all of the immigration system for thea model where company, it does not really matter for them who is occupying their prison beds. a could be somebody serving sentence or somebody there waiting for their immigration case to be adjudicated, but either way, they are staffed by the same guards come at the same company with the same physical layout inside. host: how is the determination made? how will the system determine whether or not someone goes to a federal or private prison? yout: it depends on whether are talking about the justice department or ice. for the justice department, have actually set up a sort of separate shadow system where in the 1990's, the justice department determined they would begin sending non-us citizens
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the private prisons and u.s. citizens to regular federal prisons. the reasoning behind that was non-us citizens who have committed federal crimes can expect to be deported after their sentence so they bureau of prisons felt that even if the private prison failed to rehabilitate the person, it would not matter for u.s. communities in the end is the person would be deported. our guest takei is and we are taking your calls about private prisons. the number to call is (202) 748-8000. and we have more information about the federal contracts with the private resin system. the bureau of prisons currently has contracts with 12 private prisons. contract prisons held roughly 22,000 people, about 12% of the bureau of prisons total in that population. total expenditures was $639
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million in fiscal year 2014, so this is big business and we have seen the stock prices of these corporations rallying. both of thetened to quarterly earnings reports for corrections corporation of just rebranded itself to obscure its connection to caging human beings, and geo group. these are publicly traded companies. both of them are expected to make about $2 billion a year or more in 2017. ,heir stock prices have shot up first with the election of donald trump as president, then ofh the announcements various immigration policies from the administration, and with the sessions announcement that he was resending the prior phaseout. made then candidate trump the point that private prisons tend to work better than public ones. what do you make of that? guest: there is no evidence behind that like much of the other things that canada trump said.
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what he said seem to be from a general position of liking privatization, but prison privatization is especially fraught, even within the category of privatizing government services. 2016 nobelof the prize in economics said that private prisons are one of the worst areas to try to privatize for a number of reasons. one of those is it is not a competitive environment. cca tells its shareholders they are good investments because there are very high barriers and few competitors. host: let's go to the phones, we have steffen calling in from linktone, puerto rico on the independent line. rincon i am calling from , puerto rico. thank you for accepting my call. i have had friends who are
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incarcerated in the states and here. so many of the prisons are in deplorable conditions. when you talk about private prisons, if you go out to rikers island in new york -- and i did volunteer work with father lawrence lucas who is very well known in the prison system and rikers island -- and if you see the deplorable conditions, i remember when i was living in new york we used to have a free prison program where we could visit relatives and friends. the governor cut that off where we could not even go to visit our loved ones in the prisons. my question to you, sir, is this -- i know that wall street from what i understand is making billions and billions of dollars , and it is quite unfortunate that the majority of people that i visit in prison of black and latino backgrounds, and the exploitation. why is it that when we have
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these programs where we could we could bring, out children and grandchildren to these prisons but the governor, and they cut these programs off. when we do go to visit our loved ones, many times we cannot even they visit them because are in solitary confinement. solitary confinement, as you isw, by the geneva accord considered unacceptable punishment. i will hang up and listen to your response, and c-span, thank you for taking my call. puerto rico is so beautiful and i hope you can come and visit. host: how we have norm from cleveland, ohio. caller: i do not understand the big controversy with private versus the federal prison system , or even state prison system.
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i have had friends of mine who have served in both, both in private, and i can tell you this much. i go to a federal prison to visit them and i can tell you they dress better than i do with all of the stuff they have available. as far as who is making what money, what matter does it make? if they are in to do time, let them do time and that's it. from your caller in puerto rico, what billions of dollars are we talking about? of $648put a price million that we spend on private prisons. thank you. host: care to weigh in? guest: for the caller who talked about visiting friends and family and rikers, i think that is incredibly important because the fact that private prisons are terrible and have an inhumane business model does not exonerate public -- public prisons.
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rikers has a long-standing problem with a culture of violence among the staff, and that has been an ongoing issue for years. as for the question of why we should care about who is making money off of prisons, it is important because if you have a public prison, then public money is going to pay public employees. there is nobody who is making a profit off of that. but none ofoblems, the problems are caused by somebody funneling off money in order to create profits for shareholders and the way that exists for private prisons. this is something that has deep historical resonances. if you look at the contracts for private prisons, for example it says for a 1500 bed prison that the government will deliver 1500 units to the prison. those units are human beings. are talking with carl
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takei about the private prison system and taking your calls. democrats, please call (202) 748-8000. the line for republicans is (202) 748-8001. , (202)e for independents 748-8002. if you have personal experience you should feel free to call in. matthew from stockton, california, has experience. guest: a correctional facility teacher at san juan key county -- san juan -- san joaquin county prison facility. it really comes down to is the education system, and honestly, mental health. we are not really receiving through the government what we should be receiving. when a mentalrder
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health was shut down a long time ago and then from now, working as a prison correctional trying to getr, them their ged's. /a is really a dangerous job job that you really learn to love. it is a job that really i've seen a lot of guards that come too the job not trained well de-escalate the violence and what not. psychiatrist take training for officers and guards and whatnot, and also to get them out of the incarceration and into the rehabilitation. host: anything to add? guest: i think he raises some
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important points about community mental health. we have systematically underinvested in providing mental health system -- services for people who need them, and a lot of people end up in the criminal justice system because of mental health issues. it is really important to have people who are working on mental health education for people who are inside the system, because the vast majority of people who are in prison today are going to return to our communities, and we want them to return in a condition where they can lead beenives and not have broken inside prison. host: joe calling in from rego park, new york. caller: good morning, c-span, america, and all ships at sea. i spent 30 years in the criminal justice system and back in the 1990's came judges and mandatory
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minimums imposed on them. that with the private prisons is operationecame an to chris guarantee owners -- prisoners and corporations, to guarantee a return on their investment. the criminal justice system and the prisons, because the prisons cannot operate without the criminal justice system, and the judges that impose sentences on defendants, we all know that america incarcerates far too many people. the reason for it is all about money. it is disgusting but it is true. i spent over 30 years in the criminal justice system and i have worked with many judges over the years who had their hands tied by what is called editorial minimums. we realized the reason for that is to keep these prisons populated, and of course with
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the privatization of prisons, that reduces the federal government or the public government's involvement in prisons. is with aend, as it lot of things, it really is all about money and it is awful, because you are incarcerating so many people that should not be incarcerated for the amounts of time for the offenses committed. it is about the money and ensuring that these corporations see a return on their investment. thank you. i think the caller raises a really important point about people being unnecessarily incarcerated. the reason why we are the midst of a mask incarceration epidemic -- mass incarceration epidemic is over the last couple of decades we have continuously ratcheted up the number of
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people who enter prisons, the amount of time that they spend in prison. that is one of the things we are especially concerned about what the priorities of this justice department. host: we have constants calling from warfield, virginia, a democrat who has experience with the system. caller: i agree totally with the person who spoke before me. when you consider where all the jobs are, corporations that have these private prisons, they have the prisoners working for like $.35 an hour, and that is the top salary. an hource it, $7.25 versus $.35 an hour for a prisoner. guest: labor exploitation is a major issue. actually, just this past week, there was a federal court case one classo that
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certification, challenging the use of detainee labor in immigration detention. there's a private prison company there, geo group, that uses ice detainees to basically run the facility. they maintain it, and they are paid a dollar a day for it, and if they do not work they are thrown into solitary good time -- solitary confinement. host: amy from ingram, texas on the independent line. good morning. caller: i read an article in the intercept not too long ago and it has really started bothering me. it is not just the prison companies, it is the offshoots from the different things that are offered. calls from prisoners to their family, back and forth are outrageously expensive. i was reading about pilot programs where in order to make start,they want to
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instead of using physical visits or face-to-face visits they want to start using this sort of videoconferencing, video visit sort of thing, which the inmates and their families would pay for. oft is just, to me, a symbol one of the worst things about privatizing something like that. i do not think anyone should be able to control another person's body unless you are absolutely government, state, county, not just some basically bounty hunter type person. that is what i wanted to know about, the money made from not just the prison but the ancillary things. thank you. guest: there are a whole range of companies that make money off of prisoners and their families.
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this includes phone companies that are specific to prisons and caller said.he it includes financial services that cater only to prisoners and their families, and because of monopoly contracts are the only source for sending money to a family member who is inside. it even extends to people who are released from jail, now there are a lot of jails that instead of getting your money back in your wallet they put it on to what is called a release card, a debit card, it has fees to maintain it and close the account and withdraw money from the account. host: mindy is calling in from st. paul on the republican line, what is on your mind? caller: i hope this was not addressed already but you have the public and the privatized. theyon't they take, where are taking and sending back the immigrants, why don't they take the prisoners and have them do
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their jobs and we pay them to pay for their own care? and save the whole united states money. well, the system that we have in the united states today actually comes from the loophole in the 13th amendment. slavery, except for slavery and indentured servitude that is part of the sentence for a crime. that is why across the country there is an enormous labor force of prisoners, they maintain the prisons where they live for no pay or very little pay, and that is unjust. host: we have a tweet from private prisons pay guards less money than other prisons and hire less qualified people with little training in that capacity. it's go back to the phones, we michigan,om detroit,
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on the independent line. caller: god bless you, my friend, for your honesty and pulling the curtain back on the wizard because there is a disproportionate number of young black men who are incarcerated, and the recidivism rate is actually -- absolutely abysmal. these conditions have to stop. shawshank redemption is a fairytale compared to the actual conditions inside prisons. , here inthe same michigan it costs $5 million plus a day to incarcerate young black men who have gone to jail for selling an herb. that is my bias, i admit. god bless you for speaking out, and let us reduce the recidivism rate. let us give people a trade inside so they have a fighting chance when they hit the street to make an actual living, and reincorporate themselves into society.
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i will take my answer off the air. thank you. host: let's go do ronald calling in from toledo, ohio on the democrat line. caller: good morning, how are you? host: great, what is on your mind? caller: i would like to reiterate with the gentleman was just talking about. we have a lot of young black men who are there for things that should not technically would be a provisional kind of thing. i happen to have experience on both sides. i have a son who has been incarcerated and a daughter who works at a prison so she is always telling me about the people that is there that do not need to be there. there are so many mentally ill people that do not need to be in prison, they need to be somewhere else. we are not educating our young men. a lot of the young men are not going to high school.
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they definitely are not going to college like black females. we are spending too much money on the wrong end. we need to spend more money on education, education, education. he has cities like detroit, cleveland, chicago, the inner cities have been suffering for three to four decades. butne wants to invest everyone wants to invest in these private prisons. if you go to a private prison, there is nonunion. they do not treat their population with any respect. the due diligence under the constitution. this must stop and this needs to stop immediately. host: what is your response to those lasted two callers? guest: i think it points to the larger issue which is we are incarcerating far too many people in this country.
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rather than incarcerating people, should be providing services. we should be investing in what are called million-dollar blocks where people have been taken away from theirpeople have beenm their communities to be sent to prison and it cost a million dollars a year to remove these people from their communities. why are we not investing in the communities and putting this money to a better use? call for thisl segment is kevin from our turkey, new mexico on the democratic line. caller: we should ban for profit prisons and colleges. both take advantage of the young. voice,ple there have no the inmates and the students. we should been for profit colleges and for-profit prisons.
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bye. host: final word? these last three callers really point to the problem with the way that the system works right now. our justice system should not be running on a profit motive. yet, this administration is turning back towards private prisons and putting more people and -- in prison without good reason. all of that is very alarming. host: thank you so much for being here. guest: thank you. host: earlier this week, president trump signed into law the rollback of a gun-control law signed by president obama. john lott will join us to talk about what this means for gun owners. coming up, we will take look at big data and how it is being used with chelsea barabas.
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stay with us. ♪ >> sunday night on q&a, wall street investigative reporter speaks about his front page story about the career and downfall of evan morris, a lobbyist forrmer one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. >> i heard a lot about this guys lifestyle, so i wanted to watch and wait and see to see if anything more public be came out
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more publicuy -- came out about this guy. so, i started watching his spending and what made him so profitable. that is sunday night on c-span's "q&a." sunday, in-depth will feature a live conversation with pulitzer prize winner dave barry. fromll be joining us live florida. we will take your calls, tweets, and emails about his literary career. >> i moved to miami, and i had been there ever sense. colorado is a good place if you want to be a humor writer. an excellent place to go. >> dave barry has published over 30 books. in-depth live on sunday.
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