During all the minutia we were inundated with last night, Hillary said something in particular that should have elicited raucous laughter from everyone who heard it, and knows any better.
“I’m glad that we’re ending private prisons in the federal system; I want to see them ended in the state system. You shouldn’t have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans.” said Clinton.
Let’s go over why this is hilarious.
Firstly, the reason private prisons were created in the first place was to deal with the sudden tidal wave of incoming prisoners due to Clinton’s Three-Strikes laws and the Clinton Crime Bill. As the New York Times notes:
“A generation ago, amid a rise in crime rates, state and federal lawmakers began passing ‘tough on crime’ laws, including mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession. That led to a huge increase in incarceration rates; at the federal level, the inmate population swelled nearly 800 percent from 1980 to 2013, when it peaked at 220,000.”
It should be noted that, federal and state prison populations rose more under President Bill Clinton than any under any other president. And guess who championed those policies and crime bill? That’s right, kids. Hillary Rodham Clinton. In fact, it was in a 1994 speech that Hillary talked up “Three Strikes And You’re Out policies and called for tougher prison sentencing for repeat offenders.
“We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. The three strikes and you’re out for violent offenders has to be part of the plan. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets,” she said.
This policy carried with it some very hefty punishments. For instance, in California, on the “3rd strike” you would get a life sentence for pretty much any crime, no matter how minor that crime was so long as the two prior crimes were serious or violent. These are the kinds of laws First Lady Clinton lobbied for; allowing states to enact harsher sentencing statutes and expansion of the list of crimes you could get the death penalty for.
“We will finally be able to say, loudly and clearly, that for repeat violent, criminal offenders – three strikes and you’re out. We are tired of putting you back in through the revolving door.” said Clinton at the NYPD’s 9th Annual ‘Women In Policing’ Awards.
She even said in a 1994 interview on ABC’s Home, ”I really think we should have much harsher, longer sentences for violent offenders, keep them put away longer,” the first lady said.
But wait! There’s more!
As Ann Althouse points out on her blog, Hillary has received contributions from private prison lobbies in the recent past, only stopping when she got called out on it by Sanders and activist groups. To make sure her base stayed nice and happy with her, Clinton flipped without a second thought.
Ah, so it’s really on the “the appearance of contributing” to over-incarceration that matters. Too bad Trump had absolutely no instinct to jump on this issue: She took contributions, Bernie and racial justice groups slammed her on it, she flipped her position for political appearance, and she doesn’t see the need to talk straight about the economics of it; she says nothing about anything abusive happening in these private prison; her only reason is an economic point that makes no sense.
In the end, what Hillary likely considers criminal justice reform, and ending private prisons is all dog and pony for the sake of votes. She had no intention of doing away with for-profit prisons, and even had a cozy relationship with them from 1994 to recently.