tv Private Prisons CSPAN August 29, 2017 6:46pm-8:01pm EDT
prisons. last year "mother jones" magazine sent reporter shane bauer to louisiana as a prison guard to investigate the for-profit institution. mr. bauer was part of a form at the commonwealth club of california looking at private m. public prisons. >> good evening everyone. my name is mina kim. i'm on the friday host of forum and i'm really glad that marissa is not my editor. i had to keep my question to 15 words, my gosh. welcome to tonight's program at the commonwealth club. tonight's program tackles the questions surrounding and whether private prisons help or harm the functioning of our criminal justice system. this is an important question because private prisons have been making a comeback under
president trump. they are poised grow under his law and order approach to things and also his immigration policies. already in february the tenth administration reversed last year's obama administration directive to phase out privately run federal prisons and the two biggest private prison companies since election day. those companies are the geogroup and course attack formerly corrections of americorps cca. we have an incredible panel joining us tonight. shane bauer is a senior reporter for "mother jones" that he spent or months as a private recent guard and brought us a first-hand account of what happens in these prisons. he's also the author of liver of life about his -- welcome shane bauer. [applause] next to shane is jeanne woodford
former undersecretary of the california department of corrections and rehabilitation and a strong opponent of the death penalty. jeanne woodford thanks for coming. [applause] and alysia santo flew in from new york for this. she's investigative journalist for the martial projects and nonprofit news organization covering the u.s. criminal justice system. she recently wrote an extensive piece on the business of private transport in some of the horrific literally horrific conditions of people face as they are driven thousands of miles so thanks for coming alysia santo. >> thanks for having me. [applause] i want to start by giving the audience some context alysia santo at the u.s. prison populations of the total prison population is about 2 million.
what proportion of that is private? >> the 2 million includes people in jail so that's about 600,000 people not including the total population you have 15 million who are in state or federal prison and end out of those 126,000 or so based on 2015 numbers are held in a private facility either a facility operated by one of the 29 states that operate those types of state prisons. about 80% of the total prison population but those numbers don't include the number of people held in private immigration detention facilities those numbers are somewhere around 30,000 people total with about two-thirds held in private facility so the majority people in immigration detention or in a private facility. >> jeanne you know the numbers in california in terms of how many california prisons are private citizens? >> when i was in rehabilitation we had a instated 4500 and as a
result of the three-judge panel's decision that the department of corrections had reduced the number of inmates being held in california prisons the state contracted with prisons out of state to have inmates in excess of the and that number has been coming down but i believe they are still a couple thousand or maybe a little bit more housed in private prisons in other states. >> shane bauer what is the appeal of private prisons for states and local communities? what do they promise? >> private prisons their main argument for their existence is they make money and generally they are cheaper although there was recently a federal study by the department of justice that basically shows that the cost is comparable. it's not much and there are a
lot of conflicting studies about this. some say it causes more in the end and their issues in california where private prison companies won't take prisoners with serious medical issues so that cost is offset to the public prison. it's part of the conflict that when you see the number how much they are saving. >> they save $17 per inmate per day. it's a little fuzzy. >> the main way they save money is through what they pay their staff so generally they are cutting a lot of corners generally. staffing is the main cost of running a prison. >> you know that from working in private prison that they forget to that i did want to flush out a little bit how private prisons get paid. alysia santo is it true that they get paid per inmate day house and also they have
occupancy requirements that they put on states or local government? >> as far as i'm aware the contract in which there are often or have been in the past year and it went that population is going to remain at so obviously that leads to lobbying for certain types of laws that would keep that level the same and maybe not reducing mandatory minimums. you will have a more steady population of people or lowering certain criminal penalties so that is how they have often been structured. >> what would happen if governments don't meet the occupancy requirement? what kind of penalties are their shane bauer? >> generally the contractor person -- prison i worked at there's a guaranteed occupancy rate. the government will pay the rate
of 95% of the prisoners were their. >> so essentially taxpayers. >> right. >> basically what you are describing alysia santo is an industry that is incentivized to have as many people or the demand for inmates to keep the demand for inmates high and it sounds like you are saying fight against laws that would reduce that prison population fighting against reducing mandatory minimums or reformer leniency and things like that. jeanne you are nodding. >> included in the annual. reporter: the record those statements. changes in drug enforcement laws, changes in immigration status would
in the same types of horrific conditions. >> which then raises the question jeanne what are state run institutions better than private prisons? >> absolutely depends on the state as to how much you put into the prisons that make a person good or bad silly think we are fortunate in california to have the governor have the governor we have and we have and the governor cares about public safety who believes that we do inside of her prisons matter to our communities and so there is an emphasis on rehabilitation. i know that you mentioned earlier he had just been in san quentin and saw the many programs that are there and with our current governor and our legislature those programs are being put into place all over california. they are a lot other than other
states that it really depends on the public getting involved and interested in what happens. >> as the work of san quentin and you were really focused on what you believe should be the mission of prisons and the rehabilitative function, correct? what would the interesting the private prison and what impact do you think they have on the rehabilitative function of the present? >> i think there bottom line is profit. i have actually been in some private prisons and they only do what's in the contract. if their contract provide certain services that's all they are going to provided they are not looking to improve public alosi. they are not looking to evolve to make it better for the individuals who are in it which in turn makes it better for public safety and general. from my point of view as a public servant having spent 30
years in the criminal justice system in california i always out of public safety more broadly and i was believed what we did inside of her prisons had an impact in our communities. i also believe we needed to follow the science in the data. that's why implemented dated driven decision-making in the department of corrections. that's what i think public policy should be about, evolving to follow the criminal justice and as a result of california's attitude towards that, we have seen some vast improvements in our sentencing laws here in the state. as an example keeping non- violent sex offenders at the local level. we have a lot more to do and that was a huge step in california towards that system. >> also we shouldn't totally create the dichotomy between the
state and the private because the states run, the states are contracting these private companies and they are overseeing them and from what i've seen a lot of companies are doing with the contract requires. they don't even do that a lot of times and they don't have much of a means to force the contract i don't know of an example of them writing into the contract penalties. they will say that they follow the contract that they don't do that. they will close the prison down so it's still the responsibility of the state that these prisons are running this way ultimately. >> there was an inspector general report that basically found in private prisons there was a higher rate of assault on prison staff between inmates and you were in a prison in the
nguyen medium security prison. did that play out in your experience? were then save? >> it did. the prison i was in was very violent. there were stabbings every week. i witnessed stabbings and there are stabbings and all prison. there is violence at all prisons but when i left and looked at the data, there was not just more violence but more use of force and it comes down to the issue that it's way understaffed for one. there were very minimal educational programs. >> when you say and her staff what was the ratio? ..
in all. >> guards are trying to make ends meet by selling drugs. on top of that, when i was there i was noting whenever there was a stabbing i'd write down the date, when i left i texted the department of corrections to see how many the company reported. the reef choir to report all of them. was like in a two-month time i witnessed were our new about ten
or so, and a ten-month time they reported five. as journalists, we look for these documents, but if the people writing the documents are line minutes worthless. we can't know that les were there. >> just a few things and what you're saying, part of the reason the staffing level is so low, as why? >> because it's $9 per hour. >> you get paid $9 nor to be a prison guard. >> and i was in a very poor town in louisiana. really run down. but still, even though is poor there was not a lot of people who worked there for $9 an hour. a lot of people who did work there a lot were single moms who needed insurance for their kids. the job paid like 50 cents more than mcdonald's and walmart. >> in this was a prison run --
so, what you're saying is they page you very little and cap staffing levels low to maximize their profits? >> the prison them selves wanted to hire more people but they don't get to set the pay, that's done in the corporate office in nashville. it creates is culture were everybody who works there is frustrated with corporation. everyone i met other than the top-level staff hated the company. they just felt like their all been used in some way so these people they never meet can make money. the warden was trying to get a raise, there was a 1 dollar raise laser that when up to ten. the people come in and the turnover so great because people
think it's just not worth it it's a dangerous job. >> what did you have to do on a 9-dollar per hour wage? >> we work 12 hour shifts, sometimes it turned into 14, 16 hour shifts because there weren't enough people to work or we would come extra days. my job was basically to work in the unit a deal with the prisoners, what them back in, lock them up, when they need something they call for me and then i have to tell whoever it is were supposed to count the multiple times a day. also every half-hour were supposed to go through these storms and check on people. but that didn't happen, nobody did that.
>> they didn't actually follow through? >> no, the thing is, they're making $9 northern i can get fired unless they do something really egregious. the attitude is like, there's no incentive to do this work. so it's like why bother. the write it down in the book that it was done, auditors will come and look at the book, the books are in order so it just perpetuates. >> is what you are describing a unique experience? or do you think it's representative of what happens in private prisons? >> it's hard to say, i did not have the experience that shane had, i would guess it's quite typical when we wrote about prison transport companies it's similar the sense that people are severely underpaid and people are taken a jobs out of desperation. a lot of bad things happen, but
as you report more and more you have a sympathy for everyone involved, the people working them being held in custody. >> talk about prison transportation, what is it and why is it privatize? in my set so appealing to states? >> let's say you live in florida and fell behind in your child support in ohio and the district attorney wants to bring it back. to get you in florida and bring it back would be a large venture that someone who look works fore law-enforcement company would do but instead they contracted out to someone who doesn't for low rate. these companies they drive all around the country, they zigzag across picking up people. sometimes they drive for weeks on end and nobody gets out of the van except to go to the bathroom, the entire time.
that leads to really horrible things happening to people, medical crisis, sexual of salt, multiple deaths. the guards are driving and hardly get to stop. they are tired, we documented over 50 crashes. twelve a people died. we saw many times women were housed right next to mend even under federal regulations they're supposed to be separate. so many scapes. we found 50 escape since 2000. eighteen went on to commit new crimes. if you don't feel sympathy for the people in the van, maybe it would concerned that people are getting out and committing the crime when they skate the van. it was a big undertaking to figure this out because unlike private prisons which you can see in you know exist they drive across state state lines which makes it hard to pin who is
liable. is it the place that asked for the pickup of the company itself. the people are government agencies that hire these companies, they're not saying we want any sort of standard on how these people are brought back toward custody. they hire the cheapest company and the company does it the cheapest way possible and nobody is at fault. it's similar in a lot of ways. >> can you describe one of the suspicious death of the transport vehicles? >> who one person we were doing is stephen, father of three with a home remodeling business. he said succumb to an opiate addiction for some time and fell behind on child support payments. that's why he brought him up as a kind of person who might end up on a van. he was on the van.
>> and he died under mysterious circumstances in the sense that there are multiple on the van he said he died from a beating that was from the two guards driving, but the medical examiner came back with inconclusive autopsy and they are currently litigation is ongoing. he was one of our main stories because we had so much detail about what happened, we could figure out the route and he could see how it crisscross all over. he had been begging for help for quite a long time. >> there are multiple people who-year-old about who is say they were experiencing stomach pains or medical issue, but the people who are driving the van's that they're faking it a lot of times? >> sometimes are denise isaac, a woman in her 40s come also mother who had been complaining for long time basically a lot of
people on medications get put on the van and then their medication is stopped so it's not like they're having a lot of medical distress father on the van, that's the kind of thing where in that case the guards actually wanted to bring her to the hospital under their company policy they have to call and ask. the company said no. they kept driving. i did this with my coworker, took us eight months to figure all this out, but that's just to say that's how much resource it can take to figure this information out. the two guards we finally found them and they were really upset that this had happened and they didn't want it to happen. you could say they should just
went to the hospital anyway and that would've been a valid argument. we talked over 50 people, it's people in desperate situations taking a job that pays eight or $9 an hour to drive two weeks on ends. >> and their discouraged from using hotels because i have to pay out-of-pocket? because there's been some reform of the. >> supposedly, the biggest obstacles the need to find a jail to bring all the people in the jail two. they need a jail to volunteer to take other people. >> what kind of training to the drivers received? >> they said they beefed up the training and so maybe they have. at the time working for people that said they had anywhere from two days until two weeks. >> when you describe your
training as a private prison guard, you wrote about being teargas, can you describe your training? >> it people bring this up and i think it's one of the more reasonable things, because the idea is that if teargas is use they want you to know what it's like see don't freak out in the first time you're experiencing it is inside a prison. >> what was it like? >> it's awful. it feels like you're going to die. but a lot of training was watching videotapes and we had maybe two days of physical self-defense training. but a lot of days we sat there and there were no instructors. we literally stood all day long and it counts as a day training. so we had four weeks. or, most days there be like two hours and the rest we would sit around.
>> did you feel equipped to handle? >> no. mean everybody who started the job they like now you can actually learn how to do this, because sometimes a new guard will come in and try to follow the rules and you can't. you literally cannot do all the things you're supposed to so you have to make to, which often means you have to use prisoners to supplement, there's one prisoner we would let out of his storm so he could go to the dorm and see what other prisoners knee. he would get kickback like potato chips or something and it made our lives easier. >> because you are so shortstaffed. >> right. and i really was in initiating this, but i would mention the medical stuff, really similar issue in the private prisons because medical costs a lot of
money. so if an inmate has a serious condition that the prison cannot take care of they have to send them out. by the contract the company had to pay that cost, so they were very reluctant to do that. there's a huge cost, there make and 30 some dollars a day for inmates and thousands of dollars at the hospital. there's one man i met who had gangrene and he was making repeated complaints and this is on his records that i reviewed other telling him that he was line and giving him motrin and sending him back. he couldn't sleep anymore so he was sitting upright in the chair and the other inmates got man and said they were going to beat him up if he didn't go to sleep.
so conflict directed and from that he was taken to the hospital and had his legs amputated. i met him and he had no fingers or legs. there's so many of the stories. people who had heart failure going to the infirmary and they just weren't going to the hospital. >> you also wrote about how correction officers or guards experience higher rates of job-related stress. >> what effect does that have on a guard? how does this high stress position like that been so acutely understaffed, what effect does that have on the treatment of prisoners? >> you are describing your academy and i started in 1978
when there weren't many standards in my academy was nine days long. we've come a long way since then, the snow 16 weeks and staffing standards and all the things which have really brought down the violence level in our prisons, that's what you need. if you don't have enough staff, everybody is scared. everybody overreacts. they're hypervigilant and when you're at home your down here in your relationship with your family, children, and neighbors they become destroyed over time. that's why correction officers have the highest suicide rate, highest divorce rate, there's a story where correctional officers had a higher posttraumatic stress rate than people in the military. that is really from being in the situations you mentioned which
neither only a private businesses better in some states, places like california are different because they have such high standards for staffing and medical care for the courts. every aspect of california prisons and that's what's really made them who they are today. >> in terms of how that level of stress and the way inmates are treated, do you think that's a direct link? >> i was there for just four months, the journalists the reason i was in there i was just gonna try to be a nice guard, as best i could, but that didn't last very long. i got worn down really fast and
i started having a much shorter temper, and i would find myself shouting at people sometimes unintentionally, everybody does, everybody loses it at different times. and so i had this experience where i would try to be easy-going and then people would take advantage of me and then i realized i would have that line and then you can't manage everything and it's so stressful that it's hard not to see yourself surrounded by these people and you forget that they're just wanting to get what they need and make it, but you can't give it all of them and you are there first point of contact so you get worn down. >> 's he found it had a psychological effect. >> did. >> being in that environment
again, did you ever find that, coming back on your dollars a guard? >> is hard to answer that, i'm just me, i found actually that i felt the experience as a guard was so intense and i was so present to all of the time that i wasn't necessarily thinking of my experience before, but i did find myself sometimes there's an example that comes to mind when i have been in prison my friend josh and i would take extra food, like when they passed it out we get extra trades. this one guard did not want to see that he went off, he almost beat me and then when i was a guard the prison was locked down
which often was because of a violent incident or because there were not enough guards to run it, so when the prisoners locked up you have to bring food to the units, size passing a few cherries and the guy took a next to trey and i was like give me that tray back and i like dram. >> and when you are in things like that it just intensifies the anger that they have towards the staff, then i think it's a corporations fall, the thinking it's your fault and they're so depend on you for everything. >> actually did think that things were the corporations fall. they would say, we know this isn't your fault but at the same time, the way think of it is that soldiers in a war they don't believe in, they're still there they still have to fight
each other, even if they recognize maybe the people are their enemy they still have to she back. >> what is the oversight like a private entities like prison transportation systems or what is the name of the company? their expedition companies. >> but the one you specifically was prison transportation services that the largest prison transportation company and. >> what is the oversight of the corporation? >> zero. they're supposed to be oversight, there's a law passed in 2000, it's pretty vague but it's meant to give the federal government an opportunity to prosecute mistreatment but mostly to prevent escapes.
it was passed after somebody had escaped in a prison van, he was found he escaped in this may people upset, this law got passed in 2000, while we found is that have been enforced one time in the course of 16 years. since our story, the attorney loretta lynch was asked about it by florida congressman what they're going to do after story came out. they promised to investigate and then the news and bad news, bill investigated and in this past march i got a phone call from a woman who had been on the van ran by a subsidiary of transportation services when she said that she watched a man die in the van and her was a bus, 26 passengers had taken a burger king wrapper and passed it around and rocked on their name
and contact information so they could find each other when their off the vehicle. now they did this before the guy died on the bus, this is something they're able to give us a list and we called every person who verified the story was real. it's tragic, supposed to be something being looked into and the company went back to the way they have been operating, people have been on that bus for two weeks other not just saying that, we know that some people have been arrested recently by the department of justice do not being prosecuted under the law earlier, two were for self
sexually assaulting a female who is on the vehicle. >> to know if they're being used we looked into it. >> those type of transports are different because those are one facility to the other. this is the problem is that the chris krause another gonna drive over to george and then go back over to tennessee. it's different because they are done differently sometimes because they're held in private detention facilities on the have their own transparent part of their business because there's so many people to move. >> were hearing that were going to see more demand from private prison companies for detention
because of a crackdown with the trump administration. by ice or customs enforcement to have any sense of where we are in that ramp-up? >> i really don't, i don't have the current numbers, i know there are projections that the number of detainees held in private prisons will double over the next few years, i don't know if that is occurring or not. >> i don't know. >> it's also been going up for a while, it's not starting now, the started under obama, it didn't start, but it went up through his presidency, i don't know the numbers either, but that's been the frontier of these companies for a while, there's not a lot of expansion in the state and federal prison world, but there is a lot in the immigrant detention, there has
been for years. >> during this conversation you been talking about how california has much better policies that the court stepped in and it's help them after such intense overcrowding, but yet doesn't california's recidivism rate remain high, like still in the mid- 60s? their return to prison rate is 65% or something? >> actually it was over 65% when we started, when we added rehabilitation back and started expanding. last year it finally started coming down. >> and you attribute that to services in prison? >> absolutely. it took us almost 40 years to get to where we were and it's going to take a long time to unwind that, it really is about
. >> there was a prison simulation videogame that came a couple years and i'm like this is not what happens in real life. the thing is, like prisons when we talk about prisons, they are the end of the line of a long chain. the reason people don't do much and there is the like state issues and the public programming it did seem better than the private in louisiana. they're getting like kg region a
ged class that harley nobody could fit into. so comments like california no has gone way back since the 70s. and then were building these in solitary, some is like a switch of an approach and how to deal with the prison population. >> to you know of any innovative ways to incentivize private companies to improve outcomes? >> it would be great if they tried it, seems obvious, a your government agency, your
contracting out something in the public, new using taxpayer to pay for and then set up almost nothing there to have human dignity. and if you're gonna being our prisoners you have to make sure their medical needs are met, just most basic things, all they requires that you be brought a live at some point,. >> i don't think these kind of incentives will happen because the margin of savings that lead to the prophet is relatively small. as soon as the whole point of them the bottom line is the most important thing, if they're not make a money then they're not going to exist. >> why did you want to be a prison guard?
>> what was. >> it's a very hard to get access to prisoners, it's gotten harder over the years and decades, i've been in some california prisons in california is easier than some but still, you have like a tour for three hours and that's it, you cannot interview inmates, there's a lot of walls, with private prisons it's even more difficult. these are companies, so they don't have a lot of the public access, the public access laws but don't apply to, getting information about it is difficult. companies have existed for 30 years and we haven't had a good look inside of them. so that was the only way that i could think of to see what life
was like in these prisons. >> do you think of for-profit prison, with private prisons have a role in our criminal justice system? that they should be there and they have a beneficial role to play? >> no. >> really, again, there's nothing there adding other than cost savings. >> and that's questionable. >> also behind this question is really the size of our prison population it is so big so as long as it's inflated there's
going to be ways states are going to be trying to save money because it's so expensive. >> before you speak, i want to remind the audience that in five minutes will be taking questions, so please be thinking of your questions and there's a microphone in the back right corner of the room, or my left, please feel free to line up if you have questions. >> he talked about recidivism, and is so much more complicated than that. you have to look at the entire system. it starts with a person's first arrest and what happens when there are probation. it's really every aspect, who gets out on bail and who doesn't, is it fair, is it not fair, as part of a whole, you can't just take one piece of it and say its contract with you to bring down recidivism because you have to look at the entire
system and make it fit together in a way where everybody's goal is public safety. when you look at public safety you need to look like everybody who's involved, the victims, set holistic approach that will bring down recidivism and get us into a place in the state. >> to think of for-profit can play a role? >> i really don't. having been a public servant, i believe in public service and i believe that when your public servant is your goal to try to be judicious with taxpayers money and have clear missions and really seek policies that
need that mission, i just don't know how that fits in to a good public policy in the system that seeks to benefit all taxpayers and everybody within the state. >> where do you stand? >> i want to say that i don't necessarily think private prisons are worse than some of our public prisons. >> the prophet motive is gross that that's how are running our system, the same time some of the worst stories i reported on nobody was making a prophet. removing the prophet is not going to fix our problem at all. >> it sounds like it's reducing the prison population. >> i agree, there has been horrific stories and prisons around the country, the
differences, in a public system every time you have a pelican bay, things change, courts get involved policies change, staffing training, tools that people utilize, better medical and psychiatric care, all of that happens in the system as it evolves, and a private system you have companies that go out of business and come back with a new name. so i don't see how you make that any better because their motive is profit. >> also the system built super max prisons and to put people in a cell for 30 years. >> it created a war on drugs, he created lots of things that inflated our prison population significantly in the 80s which is when we hear about the private prisons becoming much more appealing, you're writing a book about private prisons, and
your finding that this model has come back even before the 80s. >> we've had for-profit prison throughout american history in different time, the first prison in this country was a for-profit prison in philadelphia, the first penitentiaries were essentially factories where they're making textiles for companies and then it was about 40 years into the time we started building penitentiaries that in the south they were run by companies and privatized. and then companies were using prisoners as laborers working in con fields and minds, and this went into the early 20th century.
and then the states went over and they're still trying to make a prophet there's been a prophet aspect through the whole system until these were created. >> let me open it up to the audience. >> as audience always, keep your questions short, and be brief so we can get to as many people as possible. >> do you think there's a connection in the modern system both public and private to the belief that it's become our modern system of slavery? >> who wants to take that? >> the thing i would say us i'm deep in the history now and it's a line, we had slavery entering
slavery prisons were subsidizing the slavery system making close were slaves cheaper than the north could make it. they're actually learning from the prison system for a while and then we have prisoners doing what slaves used to do for a very long time, i'm talking up to the 1970s there prisoners picking cotton fields when the rest of the country was mechanized. >> is not just a prophet issue before most prisoners were white and after most were black and have been over since, it's been a method of dealing there's been
a wealth gap in the country and social control in some ways you can't separate, it's not the same but as part of the same trajectory. >> thank you for the question, feel free to introduce yourself. >> hello. i'm eric is there any relationship and private prisons and the prominence of gangs and the authority? >> is there a difference between private prisons and gangs in prison? >> the prison i was in and louisiana strange because there's not prison gangs like most of the country and they're not racially segregated which is
strange coming from california, he had this idea of deep south that's racist, california the prisons are extremely segregated. there were guards from other prisons filling in, and one of the guards said, he liked his prison better because the gangs are really strong there and in the prison louisiana i was very chaotic, there weren't people calling the shots within the prison population tell people what to do. he said at my facility if somebody doesn't make their bed, they get stabbed. if they mouth off they get stabbed. it may take a lot of order, and i've heard this from several people, it comes back to the issue of understaffing and stuff like, about the same time and those prison guards get killed
sometimes. there's more concentrated hits that are directed by gangs. >> i'm kimberly. i'm a volunteer on the board of them forms. thank you for being here, even more so thank you for doing what you do putting yourself in peril to do so for the good of the public. i was hoping you talk a little bit about risk and reward in the backlash you receive, and perhaps you could, and also on how it feels to be at the receiving end of scene what happens in someone else's prison. >> interestingly, a lot of times when i write stories there's more of a backlash with the persian transport story. and even a place like the stories and like thank you so much for getting our story out there, the only people that didn't like it were the people who own the companies.
the backlash was silence, they didn't talk to us and didn't fight us to see some of the changes they made that we later realize weren't even real. that is really nice. a lot of times you do, it's not always really horrible, but people been like, screw you, or whatever. but a lot of people thanked us. a lot of times you write about what guards are doing in their mad and this when we do try to make sure the difficulty they were facing. so they really appreciated that. >> when you advocate for the interests of prisoners to hear from victims of crimes who feel betrayed maybe that you are advocating for their needs? >> i would never say that i'm advocating for them in that
sense? >> that definitely happened where people were people like you ruined my life for my husband's life by writing about this. people do say that too. i try to have a phone conversation with someone because e-mailing back and forth is not going to work. going to get nowhere. i will try to hear them out. i really want to hear their criticism is a sensitive subject matter. you want to be aware of everybody you're impacting. >> i'm the executive director of a nonprofit called the public trust align i'm looking at
models, the public trust doctrine has been part of our law since before statehood, and most of my work is worth the public utilities commission and investing in our own utilities which are doing some amazingly dumb thing with respect to climate change. in taking a look, and prison is inherently public sphere, much like providing resources for drinking water. to some of the use some of these as guidepost for moving forward, do you see or have you heard of any citation of that particular strand of wall which is based on public interest? and its application and
i try to ask him why he does it but he will never answer me. >> if i understood it the penal code in california defines the prisons and for a long time the purpose was punishment and that's it. and then for five years ago in 2006 we added rehabilitation back into the department of corrections. so i think adding that back in sets the department towards a mission that would improve public safety by providing rehabilitation and treatment. is that you need to what your point was?
>> publicly to treat as private property. [inaudible] >> it sounds like you are saying the closest you have seen to the corporation getting there is to have -- on their board. that's what you are saying? we have time for three more questions. >> my name is jared rudolph. california's prisons were privately-owned for a while until governor weller literally broke down the gates and take the keys back and they were held in five states until relatively recently. after brown v. plodded there were a number prisoners located outside of california and some inside of california. my question is for ms. woodford. you think you're more people currently held in private prisons in california? do you think that's going to be at trend that continues in the
states are going to gain more power as time goes on? >> no i don't think that's going to happen in california at all. we have had a on private prisons i believe it was 4500 for a long, long time and all efforts to increase that have never gone anywhere. the only reason california sabott status because of the on the numbers that could be housed within our prison system. this date has been doing everything they can to eliminate those out-of-state heads because they are expensive and addition to that you are sending inmates away from their family members. i think those private beds will come to an end actually. >> next question. >> hi. my name is dayton and one question i had was sitting back there with my friends, i know it's all my youth wasted in the
back and we listen and i was especially. one thing i was going to ask you is what more can we do in our communities to help us keep going, progress? >> thank you for the question. it's a similar question that i was going to ask is the concluding question. as we are looking at them away on the cusp of potentially exponential growth what should we be watching for to keep it in check if that gets to your question. what can we do? >> i think involved at the local level in terms of what happens within your county's criminal justice system. the state gave the county a lot of money to bring reuploaded of programs to individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system as a result of realignment and some counties have used that money for things other than programming. i think you have to pay attention to what they are doing
and where they are spending their money and making sure they are putting it into drug treatment, mental health treatment, providing homes and medical care and the things that we know work to bring down recidivism and keep people from being involved in the criminal justice system. i think it's really important than fighting against private prisons. this is important as well. >> alysia santo do you have anything to add? >> one of the difficult difficult things in our prisons if most people have never been inside of one. there was some way in some scenario that being in our society you have to know what it felt like and what it looked like to be inside of a prison i think it would be enlightening for people because it's out of sight out of mind and if you think it's never going to affect me or anybody that i love.
if you see what it's like inside of a prison and feel what it's like in there i don't think you can walk away the same. and for you as a young person spreading awareness as much as you can in being as knowledgeable as you can. the biggest obstacle is just that people don't know and they don't care. so making people care however you can is a really powerful thing. >> if i could really quickly i run into people all the time that have been in san quentin because the doors open quite a bit. any one in this room that inside of san quentin? >> it's such a unique person that they let people in. >> i think we have time for one final question. >> we have a combo statement and question. you don't need to know my name honestly but my comment, my
comment is i don't know how you guys go to sleep at night knowing that you do what you do and saying that saying these things that it's enlightening to go into prison and realize if you don't have the totality yourself to tell people that might not happen to your family because it happens to my family, to say that it's enlightening and it won't happen to you and you don't have to worry about it and you can advocate for them is kind of low for you guys and i just don't understand how you guys are doing this right now. that's just my comment. >> my question on that, we have had several states including california and oregon write us came from that of legalize recreational marijuana and also on the federal end of that you have our attorney general jeff sessions making the distinction between recreational marijuana
and the use of heroin. do you criminalize certain amounts of drugs, so any may my question is do you see abutting of the heads between our federal government that we have right now with our attorney general and turning states over incarcerated members? >> thanks for the question and if you want to respond to the previous statement as well. i think it's a strong statement and the response if you have one. >> i certainly don't mean it to be hurtful. ask a mean i think people should care but i do know that a lot of people don't so i believe if people saw and experienced it that it would be moving to them. not everybody has the experience of having a loved one and they are fortunate to not have that experience so having a loved one incarcerated. wish people could understand what it would be like and that's what i meant by that.
if it was interpreted wrong i didn't mean that. >> when you're trying to solve the problem and help the system get better. >> if people want to be able to respond i think they should be able to respond so that was the opportunity that they were being given. if you want to have more of a conversation about it please do so as soon as we are -- we are close to concluding this conversation but part of the reason that there are large segments of our society that have not been touched by our system, our criminal justice system. part those are in it that are not reflective of our population as a whole. they are black, brown or populations that are much
stronger proportion than what they are, is how they are representing a prison population. >> i think because our pastorek was i don't know of family that hasn't been impacted by incarceration either at the local level in a state prison including my own. and i also think it's so important to go inside presence to humanize people bear. people think inmates are what you see on tv and it's just not so. they are people and they have kids and families. we need to care about what happens to them. for me that's why i'm so passionate about making changes to our public policy. we don't incarcerate people woman they don't need to be incarcerated and that we now know that it's not the length of the a prison sentence that makes us safer. it's what we do with people and the treatment we provide for them that takes us safer.
so that's really why i do what i do. >> i'm sorry for the person as the last question. i hope we will get to it but i encourage you to ask it again. that's in part because we have a tradition of asking at as the very last question as we conclude our program, as each speaker what is your 62nd idea to make the world a better place and i'll start with you shane bauer. >> i mean i don't have the innovation but honestly i think when we look back on this time and i mean in the recent decades i think mass incarceration is going to define the time and i think that we have two let a lot of people out of prison, i mean a lot. we have two or 3 million people behind bars more than any country in the world and doing that takes a lot of things.
it's like changing the power of prosecutors, changing drug laws and it's also changing how much we have punish violent criminals because most of the people in prison are there for violent crimes. the vast majority, 85% and policing there are so many things, racism in society. the prison system can't have all that stuff in the end so it symbolizes social -- bigger social problems. >> to me it's expanding dated driven decision-making and i think much more public policy and politicians trying to win the elections. i think it's about expanding decision-making and every law in every statute that is past should have the data behind it to say why we are doing what we
are doing and they need to know why we are doing what we are doing. [applause] >> it's pretty pie in the sky but i'd say if there's any way to really loosen the laws around the records of prisons one of the most difficult things is it so hard to figure out what's actually going on because the records are kept in a way that it's a security threat to anybody to know, basically it's a blanket denial. think transparency is the really important thing that is needed. more cameras, more public access to what it shows. when people know they are being watched they behave differently and that's been proven over and over again. it to really shine a light on these places that operate these places. [applause] >> alysia santo, jeanne woodford shane bauer of "mother jones"
magazine thanks to all of you for coming to share your insight. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> every single comment i have received has been one of two topics, how angry people have learned from what's happened or how flabbergasted they are to learn what happened. it received any kind of mild i read it and i thought it was