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NAACP Opposes the For-Profit Prison Industry

WHEREAS, the U.S. has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world, with 2.3 million people behind bars. At year-end 2009, almost 3 million adults, or 743 out of every 100,000 in our nation's population were incarcerated and another 4,933,667 were on probation or parole; and

WHEREAS, over the past four decades, the number of people incarcerated in our country quadrupled from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million; and

WHEREAS, racial and ethnic minority Americans are disproportionately overrepresented in America's prison population; 60% of America's prisoners are non-white; and

WHEREAS, as was so clearly demonstrated in the April 2011 NAACP Report Misplaced Priorities, escalating investments in incarceration over the past 30 years have undermined educational opportunities and are currently causing tremendous strain on several states' budgets; and

WHEREAS, in 2005, the average annual cost of incarceration was $23,876 per state prisoner with variations of $13,000 in Louisiana to $45,000 in Rhode Island; and

WHEREAS, as of 2011, we spent nearly $70 billion each year to incarcerate people in prisons and jails, to imprison young people in detention centers and "youth jails" and to keep 7.3 million people under watch on parole or probation in our communities; and

WHEREAS, private prisons are even more costly; the cost on average $56 per prisoner per day compared to state prisons which cost an average of $48 per prisoner per day; and

WHEREAS, private prisons are less safe; inmate-on-inmate violence is 66% higher in private prisons than in state-owned prisons and violence toward staff 49% higher in private prisons; and

WHEREAS, private prison corporations have a long record of mismanagement, abuse and corruption and are not accountable to the public but to shareholders; and

WHEREAS, private prisons have, in general, lower pay and much higher turnover among employees; and

WHEREAS, private prisons profit through the incarceration of others; the more people who are imprisoned in the United States, the more money private prison owners and operators make; and

WHEREAS, Corrections Corporations of America (CCA)- the nation's largest owner and operator of privatized correctional and detention facilities and one of the largest prison operators in the United States, behind only the federal government and three states, which currently owns and operates more than 60 facilities including 44 company-owned facilities, with a design capacity of more than 85,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia- recently sent a letter to 48 U.S. Governors announcing the "Investment Initiative," a new plan to spend up to $250 million to buy prisons from state, local, and federal government entities on conditions of a minimum commitment of 20 years for the facility and maintaining 90% capacity over the twenty year period; and

WHEREAS, by requiring a minimum prisoner capacity, CCA removes any incentive for a reduction in the number of people incarcerated including sentencing reform or a decrease in crime; and

WHEREAS, the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, Southern Catholic Bishops and Catholic Bishops, and Episcopal Diocese of Newark have all joined the NAACP in declaring their opposition to profit-making from the punishment of human beings and an abdication of our responsibility to care for our sisters and brothers.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will strongly advocate for the abolishment of private, for-profit prisons and urge transparency and accountability for those that are in existence; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP is opposed to the selling of a federal, state or local prison facility to any private company; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP and its Units support legislation that prevents the sale of any federal, state or local prison or jail to any for-profit entity.

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