Saturday, June 25, 2011

A bipartisan consensus favoring criminal justice pork

A frequent theme on this blog is that support for Big Government solutions in the criminal justice arena is usually bipartisan, and here are two recent datapoints supporting that claim:
  • Democrats created the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance grant program in the '80s and defending this state-level pork is one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement in an otherwise sharply divided US Congress.
  • The Justice Policy Institute just issued a report titled "Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies," documenting cross-partisan giving by the two largest private prison firms - Geo Group and Corrections Corporation of America - generally giving to successfully reelected incumbents on key committees. Party mattered less than position when analyzing who received private prison donations, according to this study.
Both those trends reinforce how important it is to avoid partisan labels when analyzing criminal justice politics. In both instances, the issues simply don't break along party lines: Elected officials from both parties support law-enforcement pork, just as both parties' candidates receive significant donations from corporate-prison interests. A recent post at Texas Prison Bidness reinforces the sense that these companies are seeking to buy political influence, or at least that's what I'd infer from news that former Bush-era Bureau of Prisons chief Harvey Lappin recently left the BOP to take an executive job at Corrections Corporation of America. That's pretty overtly "gaming the system," to use JPI's lingo: Hiring the guy who runs the federal prison system you've been seeking contracts from for years. That's gotta be helpful when preparing CCA's next bid.

See related Grits posts:


DEWEY said...

Perhaps we should require our elected "leaders" to belong to groups that do not consume pork.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Dewey, Do we have those????????????