|Yet perhaps the most troubling rhetoric coming out of some divestment campaigns is the ethical argument – that our society should not deal with private companies simply because they profit from holding prisoners. Whether intentionally or not, this implies that “imprisonment is OK as long as a corporation isn’t profiting.” In other words, the vastly larger numbers of non-private, state-run cages becomes legitimized. And unfortunately, this is exactly the type of logic that has made its way from some divestment campaigns to the top of the chain:“Hillary believes we should move away from contracting out this core responsibility of the federal government to private corporations, and from creating private industry incentives that may contribute—or have the appearance of contributing—to over-incarceration.”
– A spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign
February 1, 2016
Clinton’s defense of imprisonment as a “core responsibility” of the government came after some groups pressured her and demanded that she cut ties with private prison companies. Victory? Not at all. This is but one example of the dangers that Ruthie Gilmore, among others, has cautioned anti-prison activists of in her powerful piece “The Worrying State of the Anti-Prison Movement.” Again, we want to bring down the PIC, not allow it to dance around our efforts to challenge it. Let’s fight imprisonment – not because in few cases corporations are making a buck– but because we want to end the violence of cages.
Let’s be strategic. Let’s win, not for the sake of claiming a victory, but to get people free.