The conventional wisdom here at DailyKos with regard to Clinton’s support among persons of color is that she has that demographic all sewn up. But will she be able to maintain support if persons of color feel that their issues aren't really a priority for her? Take, for example, the subject of criminal justice reform.
Back in April, Clinton delivered a speech on the topic of criminal justice reform, the entirety of which can be read here.
On the topic of the disproportionate number of persons of color incarcerated in our for-profit prison system, she stated:
There is something profoundly wrong when African American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts.
There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes. And an estimated 1.5 million black men are "missing" from their families and communities because of incarceration and premature death.
There's more, it's not a bad speech, and it should be read in its entirely. But the one glaring omission I found was any mention of how the privatized prison system, which encourages judicial corruption (we've seen judges who have taken kickbacks from the for-profit prison industry and doling out draconian sentences to juvenile offenders, and the like) and fosters the type of system where people are, once again, viewed as a product or commodity to meet bottom line corporate profits.
How can such a system be even remotely fair and just?
Perhaps one of the reasons Clinton didn't mention the for-profit prison industry in her speech about criminal justice reform is because she is a recipient of campaign funds originating from the for-profit prison industry, and therefore, it could be a big conflict of interest to bring it up. But if she can't even bring up the for-profit prison industry, and the corruption it engenders, how will she be able to act on it?
If people are to believe that Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to represent persons of color, then she should make persons of color a real priority, not just lip service.
With Deep Ties to Politicians, Private Prisons Have Exploded As Profit Centers
Prisoners can’t vote in the United States and as a result they don’t have much sway over public policy decisions. But private, for-profit prison companies do, their voices amplified by big campaign contributions and millions spent on lobbying. Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, some of the candidates’ ties to the prison-industrial complex raise a lot of questions.
For example, the GEO Group has contributed heavily to campaigns of Florida senator and Republican contender Marco Rubio. And Republican candidate Jeb Bush’s support of for-profit prisons goes back to the 1990s, when he oversaw prison privatization as Florida governor.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is calling for criminal justice reform, which would reduce profits for private prisons and reduce mass incarceration. The election offers voters a choice between candidates who support the current system that allows corporations to profit from the misery of the inmates and those committed to fundamental reform, which includes changing inflexible sentencing laws and ending the for-profit prison system.
I applaud Clinton for speaking out on this issue. But I was really disappointed when I read that Private prison lobbyists serving as bundlers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign
Today, Lee Fang at The Intercept reported that a number of these bundlers are either lobbyists for or lawyers hired by lobbyists for the private prison industry.
Richard Sullivan, of the lobbying firm Capitol Counsel, is a bundler for the Clinton campaign, bringing in $44,859 in contributions in a few short months. Sullivan is also a registeredlobbyist for Geo Group, a company that operates a number of jails, including immigrant detention centers, for profit.
Given Hillary Clinton’s record on criminal justice, the funds coming from the private prison industry are hardly surprising. Clinton championed her husband’s tough-on-crime agenda in the early ’90s, advocating “three strikes and you’re out” sentencing laws and larger police forces. As Fang noted, Clinton has made a number of moves to the left on a number of criminal justice issues since launching her 2016 bid, but recently indicated that she is willing to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” a move that would lead to more immigrants detained in the very private prisons that are raising money for her campaign.
As we reported yesterday, fully five Clinton bunders work for the lobbying and law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. The Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in America, paid Akin Gump $240,000 in lobbying fees last year. The firm also serves as a law firm for the prison giant, representing the company in court.
Akin Gump lobbyist and Clinton bundler Brian Popper disclosed that he previously helped Corrections Corporation defeat efforts to compel private prisons to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests.
It's no secret than I'm a Sanders supporter. But if Clinton should clinch the nomination, and I am expected to get in line and support her in the general election, then I'd like to see her address this glaring inconsistency.
I suggest that any campaign contributions Clinton receives from the for-profit prison industry and/or their lobbyists and lobbyist law firms should be publicly returned with a statement. I would like to see Hillary Clinton tell the for-profit prison bundlers "Thanks, but no thanks!" and show us that important issues that affect persons of color really are a priority for her, and not just campaign rhetoric. In order for us to take her seriously on the issue of criminal justice reform, we need assurances that she won't be beholden to the for-profit prison industry which profits by unjustly putting and keeping people of color in cages.