Private prisons have been under a lot of scrutiny lately due to their underhand methods. After revelations that some prisons were paying judges to increase incarceration rates, their finances have been heavily examined. Many people are starting to realize that private prisons regularly use their funds to support politicians and laws that will imprison more people. In a surprising new revelation, it turns out that Republican candidate Donald Trump is one of the people being paid by for-profit prisons.
The company who donated to Trump is GEO Corrections Holdings, a business run by GEO Group. The GEO Group is known for being the second largest company of privately run prisons. In August, the GEO Corrections Holdings donated to a Super PAC called Rebuilding America Now that has been behind most of Trump’s funding. This PAC has been campaigning and fundraising for Trump since the beginning of his campaign.
GEO Corrections chose to make a $100,000 donation to the PAC the day after the Department of Justice announced plans to begin phasing out the usage of private prisons. Apparently, they have hopes that Trump would reverse this decision if he became president. This would benefit their business because they could continue to make money off of incarcerated prisoners. In addition to receiving federal contracts for running prisons, many private prisons also make money off of inmate labor.
This donation may not just be morally questionable. The Campaign Legal Center has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission because it may also be illegal. Federal contractors are not allowed to make federal political donations while either fulfilling or negotiating a contract. This is considered illegal because it private businesses could manipulate federal elections for their own financial gain. The ban on federal contractor donations is supposed to ensure that officials support citizen’s interests instead of donor’s interests.
Spokespersons from GEO claim that they have not violated any federal laws. Supposedly, GEO Corrections Holdings does not actually count as a government contracted agency, even though their parent company does. Many are still questioning the legality of the donation though, since GEO Corrections Holdings employs guards at prisons that hold government contracts. According to a website run by the federal government, GEO Corrections Holdings currently has $266,000 in federal contracts.
Trump may be responsible for accepting unethical donations, which is very concerning. His campaign has already faced many accusations that Trump is attempting to gain money through bribes and donations instead of genuinely desiring to represent his constituents’ interest. It is also worrying that the GEO Group clearly feels that a Trump presidency would result in higher private prison incarceration rates. This could lead to more people being jailed unnecessarily.