Gary Johnson, Who Will Never Be President, Would Be Good for Private Prisons

Good thing we don’t have to worry about that.

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Despite the recent Department of Justice decision to end its use of all private prisons following a damning report regarding their safety, security, and oversight, Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson will consider using these facilities if elected president, he told the Huffington Post.

As governor of New Mexico, Johnson expanded the use of private prisons, citing savings he said were necessary for the state in the wake of a federal consent decree that required space restrictions after prison populations boomed. Because the prison population outgrew state facilities in the 1990s and 2000s, hundreds of inmates were being housed out of state. For Johnson, private prisons were the solution.

“Private prisons stepped in and offered the same goods and services at about two-thirds the cost,” he told the Huffington Post in a recent interview.

The Guadalupe Correctional Facility—a prison run by Wackenhut Corrections Corporation—opened in 1999 under Johnson’s governorship and soon became the site of rampant violence; a riot involving nearly 300 prisoners resulted in the death of a prison guard that same year. Nine months before the riot, five people died in Wackenhut-run facilities in New Mexico, according to the Associated Press.

The Huffington Post also reported that while Johnson was governor, he received $5,000 collectively from Corrections Corporation of America and Wackenbush, although he denied any “quid pro quo” relationship. Soon after the donations were made, he opposed an independent study of private prisons in the wake of the riot at Guadalupe Correctional Facility.

The Department of Justice announcement terminating contracts with private prisons came weeks after Mother Jones published an investigation from reporter Shane Bauer about his time as a guard in a Louisiana private prison run by Corrections Corporation of America. In the months since, the Department of Homeland Security has also announced it will reevaluate its relationships with private prison companies, and CCA and GEO are now facing lawsuits from their shareholders that claim the companies were not transparent about the risks.

Johnson told the Huffington Post that any decisions he would make as president regarding the use of private prisons would be on a case-by-case basis to take cost into account.

“All I have to base my experiences on is having been governor of New Mexico,” he said. “People really appreciate good stewardship of tax dollars…is it a bargain or isn’t it?”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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