Sunday, February 22, 2015

Left And Right Have Worked Together For More Humane Prisons

Left and right uniting on prison reform is in the news.  This story in the New York Times is about the unlikely alliance of usually bitter adversaries Koch Industries and the Center For American Progress.
Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the conservative Koch brothers, and the center, a Washington-based liberal issues group, are coming together to back a new organization called the Coalition for Public Safety. The coalition plans a multimillion-dollar campaign on behalf of emerging proposals to reduce prison populations, overhaul sentencing, reduce recidivism and take on similar initiatives. Other groups from both the left and right — the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Tea Party-oriented FreedomWorks — are also part of the coalition, reflecting its unusually bipartisan approach.
This is great.  The reason I can say that with such confidence is that I have seen it happen before and it really worked.  Here is a picture of left and right sharing common ground on a prison issue.

The picture there has Ted Kennedy watching while my friend Tom Cahill congratulates George W. Busch on his signing of the Prison Rape Elimination Act .  Not very long before that Tom had been in Iraq serving as human shield, possibly the only US Air Force veteran to do that.

In my nearly 20 years working with Justice Detention International (formerly Stop Prisoner Rape), support for the effort to end sexual abuse in detention has come from across the ideological spectrum.
When Kent Hovind, who is about as far right as you could conceivably published a book calling for prison reform, I asked Tom Cahill for his comments.  Tom had high praise.

Fixing the prison industrial complex is something that both left and right can embrace.  It should be interesting.

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