Christie's plan to stop private prison lobbyists?

Kevin Rutledge on August 22, 2015
In New Hampshire, Gov. Christie said private jail facilities shouldn't determine immigration policy to make more profits. However, when I asked him his plan as president to determine policy to benefit people and not corporate lobbyists at the Iowa State Fair, I was disappointed he didn't address a plan or steps and only referred to New Jersey's decreasing prison population.

At the Iowa State Fair, I asked Gov. Chris Christie a follow up question regarding his response to private prison lobbyists driving immigrant detention policies in this June bird-dog report from New Hampshire when he said,

“We should not allow corporations to be determining our immigration policy. To the extent that our immigration policy is driven by the desire to make profits for private jail facilities. That should not be the way we make decisions…I want everybody to be aware of the fact if you have enough money to buy an influential person to lobby for you, you can get a lot out of this Congress. The thing that will stop that is a strong president who says, 'No! No, I’m not going to give into this stuff.'

He didn't call on me during the formal Q&A session on the soapbox, so I shook hands afterwards and asked him,

“In New Hampshire, I heard you say that we should not allow for-profit prison lobbyists to determine our immigration policy in order to make more profit. I was wondering what is your plan as president to determine policy that’s best for people and not for corporate lobbyists?”

I was surprised that in Iowa he wouldn’t really address my question.  It was disappointing that after being so clear in New Hampshire about a call for action to halt the rich private prison industry lobbying and driving mass incarceration policies, Gov. Christie seemed to only talk about how the prison population in New Jersey is declining.

“We’re making decisions based on what’s best for people, not the people who run the prisons publicly or privately,” said Gov. Chris Christie about declining overall prison populations in New Jersey during the Iowa State Fair. But he didn’t mention steps to prevent the private prison industry from lobbying to shape prison policies.

I hope when he returns to Iowa I will have a chance to acknowledge the importance of reducing the prison population, but to also ask him for clarity about how he will address the influence of for profit prisons in shaping public policy related to prisons and immigrant detention centers.

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Kevin Rutledge

Kevin Rutledge AFSC Governing Under the Influence Presidential Campaign Project

Kevin Rutledge is the Grassroots Education Coordinator with AFSC’s Presidential Campaign Project in Iowa.  Kevin has deep family roots in Quaker activism for peace and social justice.  A graduate from Iowa State University in Sociology and Criminal Justice, his previous work includes: United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) organizer, Public Citizen online organizer to overturn Citizens United, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, and a youth residential treatment facility.  Kevin hopes to one day return to Brazil and live by the beach.

“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill .