Lauren-Brooke Eisen on Inside Private Prisons with Vincent Schiraldi
ABOUT THE EVENT
Lauren-Brooke Eisen and Vincent Schiraldi will discuss Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration, a new book on the private prison system in the United States published by Columbia University Press.
When the tough-on-crime politics of the 1980s overcrowded state prisons, private companies saw potential profit in building and operating correctional facilities. Today more than a hundred thousand of the 1.5 million incarcerated Americans are held in private prisons in twenty-nine states and federal corrections. Private prisons are criticized for making money off mass incarceration–to the tune of $5 billion in annual revenue. Based on Lauren-Brooke Eisen’s work as a prosecutor, journalist, and attorney at policy think tanks, Inside Private Prisons blends investigative reportage and quantitative and historical research to analyze privatized corrections in America.
From divestment campaigns to boardrooms to private immigration-detention centers across the Southwest, Eisen examines private prisons through the eyes of inmates, their families, correctional staff, policymakers, activists, Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees, undocumented immigrants, and the executives of America’s largest private prison corporations. Private prisons have become ground zero in the anti-mass-incarceration movement. Universities have divested from these companies, political candidates hesitate to accept their campaign donations, and the Department of Justice tried to phase out its contracts with them. On the other side, impoverished rural towns often try to lure the for-profit prison industry to build facilities and create new jobs. Neither an endorsement or a demonization, Inside Private Prisons details the complicated and perverse incentives rooted in the industry, from mandatory bed occupancy to vested interests in mass incarceration. If private prisons are here to stay, how can we fix them? This book is a blueprint for policymakers to reform practices and for concerned citizens to understand our changing carceral landscape.
ABOUT THE PRESENTERS
Lauren-Brooke Eisen is senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, where she focuses on changing financial incentives in the criminal-justice system. Previously she was a senior program associate at the Vera Institute of Justice in the Center on Sentencing and Corrections, served as an assistant district attorney in New York City, and taught criminal justice at Yale College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Vincent Schiraldi is a Senior Research Fellow directing the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management (PCJ) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). Schiraldi arrives at HKS with long experience in public life, first coming to prominence as founder of the policy think tank, the Justice Policy Institute, then moving to government as director of the juvenile corrections in Washington, DC, and then as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation. Most recently Schiraldi served as Senior Advisor to the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.