Ohio State Representative candidate Kim McCarthy opposes the incarceration of prisoners for private profit. McCarthy says that the recent JPay prison company scandal in Iowa reminds us that the private prison industry is bad for Ohio and the nation. JPay is a company that transfers money, and provides access to tablet computers. Prisoners in Iowa used a flaw in the system to transfer a quarter of a million dollars into their accounts. Ironically, one of the reasons for contracting with JPay and similar companies was security. JPay operates in multiple states, including Ohio.
McCarthy pointed out that private prison industries make huge profits because they have monopoly access to their captive clientele, prisoners and their families. If a person in prison needs anything, family members have to use companies like JPay, which take a substantial cut from every transaction. Private companies even control prisoners’ access to soap and toothpaste. If prisoners are deemed to owe the court any money, cash sent to them by family members is diverted to the state, after a percentage is taken by JPay. Worse, McCarthy says, are private prisons, which expand profits when states decide to imprison more people and keep them in prison longer. The prison industry lobbies and donates heavily and generously to promote longer sentences, for increasingly minor offenses.
Ohio has three private prison facilities:
– Lake Erie Correctional Institution, and Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (operated by CoreCivic)
– North Central Correctional Complex (operated by Management and Training Corporation)
“People across the political spectrum are realizing that we cannot continue to support the cost of mass imprisonment. People as different as Rand Paul and Corey Booker are demanding common sense reforms,” McCarthy said. McCarthy supports a four point reform plan:
1. End private prisons in Ohio. If the State of Ohio takes a person’s freedom the State of Ohio will manage their detention.
2. Review and audit prison industries such as phone services, food sales to prisoners, and money transfers, and the costs these impose on families of imprisoned people.
3. Work with members of ALL parties in the Ohio House to change the Ohio Revised Code, reduce needless and unjust confinement, and focus primarily on violent offenders.
4. Since Greene County is deciding whether to build a new jail, it should look at ways to reduce counterproductive imprisonment. “When people are in jail because they can’t afford bail, they often lose their jobs and can’t provide for their families. Bail is supposed to ensure that an accused person shows up for trial. The current alternative to bail is jail. In 2018, we have better ways to protect the public without ruining the lives of people who haven’t even been convicted of a crime, just because they can’t afford to pay. It is time for the Greene County Courts to take a fresh look at bail issues with the community as a whole. I want to work with the courts, law enforcement, and citizens of Greene County to offer alternatives, such as electronic monitoring, and take our ideas to Columbus.”
Image from TPM Features’ The True Cost: Why the Private Prison Industry is About so Much More Than Prisons
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