Faith Leaders Call Out Brewer Over Private Prisons

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Arizona faith leaders sent Gov. Jan Brewer a letter yesterday telling her to say no to the private prison industry. You can read the letter here AZ_Faith_community__letter_against_private_prisons.pdf.

From the American Friends Service Committee:

A group of congregations and faith leaders sent a letter to Governor Brewer today urging her to reject several efforts to expand private prisons in Arizona. The list of nearly 20 religious leaders from around the state included representatives from a diverse spectrum of faiths and denominations, including Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, Catholics, United Methodists, Quakers, and Muslims.

The letter came in concert with similar actions around the nation. Earlier this year, a letter from 32 national denominations and faith groups went out to US Governors urging them to reject Corrections Corporation of America’s offer to buy state prisons if the states promise to keep them 90% full. This Wednesday, April 18th was a national call-in day organized by the United Methodists and other faith groups asking their members around the country to contact the Governor of their state and voice their opposition to CCA’s offer to buy state prisons. Arizona congregations participated and urged calls to Brewer’s office.

Many denominations have resolutions or policy statements opposing prison privatization, including the United Methodist Church USA, Presbyterian Church USA, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Bishops of the South, the Episcopal Church, and the United Church of Christ.

The letter to Brewer argues that profiting from incarceration is immoral and stands contrary to many deeply held religious beliefs such as forgiveness, redemption, loving one’s neighbor, and welcoming the stranger. They also contend that high incarceration rates are an assault on the sanctity of the family. Having an incarcerated family member often forces children into poverty or the child welfare system.

The faith leaders ask the Governor to cancel the Request for Proposals for 2,000 additional private prison beds for the state of Arizona and also urge her to refuse the offer of the Corrections Corporation of America to buy state prisons. In addition, they request the creation of accountability mechanisms for current private prisons in Arizona, including those contracted with other states and those contracted by the federal government.

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