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Photograph by Thomas Hawk

Dear Mr. President,

Today I call on you to take action and reform the criminal justice system in the United States.

Here are a couple of things to consider:

Both parties have recognized the disproportions and biases of the system towards people of color and low socioeconomic status. Mike Pence said, “We have to do a better job recognizing and correcting the errors in the system that reflect an institutional bias in criminal justice.” Why are you not doing anything about it?

There are 2.2 million prisoners in this country, one of the largest numbers in the world per capita, and research, including a study by the New York University School of Law, has proven that the current criminal justice system has no impact on the crime rate. Why don’t you do something about it?

Sustaining jails and prisons is exorbitantly expensive. Federal and private prisons both receive tax payer money. Why?

The private system is unfairly profiting on slave labor, and those ill-gained profits are not being used to benefit our communities. They are used for private gain.

The Correctional Corporation of America, now CoreCivic, and the GEO Group own and manage private prisons and detention centers, and operate others on a concession basis. These corporations sell products and services provided by inmates earning ten cents an hour, and in exchange make killer profits for their investors. This money, funded by federal aid and taxpayer money, does not trickle down; it stays in that elite circle. It is very convenient and profitable to have those jails full. More inmates mean more federal funds and more profit due to increased “production.“

Instead of reforming this system, why has your administration expanded private prison use? Why did Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdraw an Obama administration order that set a goal of reducing and ending the Justice Department’s use of private prisons?

Could it be because private prisons, mass incarceration and you, Donald Trump, are linked?

According to various publications, CoreCivic and GEO Group poured millions of dollars into your campaign or supported it somehow. Is this how you pay back their favor, justifying it with the amount of immigrants that your broadened executive order is sending to prison – which is why private prisons will be needed? I don’t think so. I don’t believe what you said this week about all the drug lords that have been caught in these raids either. If they were drug lords, we would know their names and you would be bragging about how you caught them. You would be praising your administration and staff for catching such drug lords. El Chapo Guzman and Pablo Escobar: those are or were drug lords. I don’t think you or your administration understand or want to understand that drug lords have visas to come into the USA and do so for vacation or business meetings with those who run their operations here. These people include legal residents and American-born individuals, which also include caucasian non-hispanics. I can understand how hard this must be for you to admit.

It seems like it all ties into one big conspiracy theory of power, money and hate. Prison stocks are rebounding. And the people you promised would not be ignored or forgotten any longer are not going to benefit from any of this.

You are in a position to fix this broken and corrupt system – even if it doesn’t improve your bottom line.



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