The Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders is one of the sponsors of a package designed to revamp the U.S. prison system.
The new legislation, which was proposed Thursday, is focused on removing privately owned prisons and overhauling the way illegal immigrants and asylum seekers are detained.
The new bill also aims at restoring the previous federal parole system which allowed inmates to be released earlier. Backers of the new rules claim that a reform is necessary to discourage profit-driven incarcerations nationwide. The U.S. is currently the nation with the highest rates of incarcerations in the world.
Sanders argued last week that “perverse profit incentives” placed America on top of the list of countries with the most people in jail. The Democratic senator also noted that most inmates are either African American or Hispanic.
Although the package has little odds of success in a Republican-controlled Congress, the move is designed to make Sanders more popular among ethnic minorities and show voters the discrepancies between the two parties’ priorities.
In recent weeks, Sanders was declared frontrunner in the Democratic presidential run in New Hampshire and Iowa, overshadowing the party’s darling Hillary Clinton. The two states had proven decisive in past primaries.
On the other hand, Bernie is especially popular among whites although h spared no effort to lure African American voters on his side. So far, Clinton is the favorite of the black community, whose members have a major influence especially in Southern states.
In August, Sanders tried to court Black Lives Matter members by adding a “racial justice” webpage on his campaign site. The page contains sweeping justice system reforms meant to make the community members’ lives better. On Wednesday, he spent hours with the BLM discussing hot topics to the black community.
Top BLM activist DeRay McKesson, who took part in the discussion, was impressed with Sanders’ “candor and willingness” to take the necessary steps to solve some of the black community’s current challenges from medical marijuana to community policing.
The new legislation, which was called “Justice Is Not For Sale Act” by its promoters, would prohibit states and the federal government to award contracts to private companies to manage state and federal prisons in two years’ time.
The act will reactivate the old parole system, and bar prisons from charging inmates for banking and telecommunication services at mind-numbing fees. The act will also force the federal government to take steps toward closing down the prisons that host illegal immigrants including women and children in Pennsylvania and Texas.
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