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San Francisco

For-Profit Punishment? The Private Prison Question

In 2016, the Obama administration declared that the federal government would begin phasing out the use of private, for-profit prisons in the justice system. This move came in response to a Justice Department report that showed private prisons did not save money and were less safe than public facilities. In early 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded this decision. Today, the debate continues: Should the American criminal justice system include private, for-profit entities? Or should the prison system at the state and federal levels be run by the government?

Join our panelists for a conversation about the state of the American criminal justice system and private prisons. Mother Jones senior reporter Shane Bauer, who reported on his four-month stint as a private prison guard, will share his experience and insights from inside a private prison. Alysia Santo, a staff reporter at the Marshall Project, a nonprofit outlet that features journalism on criminal justice reform, recently exposed the deadly conditions on board a private prisoner transportation van. Joanne Woodford, former warden of San Quentin State Prison and former undersecretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, will offer her perspective from decades of experience within the criminal justice system. 

The Commonwealth Club
555 Post St.
San Francisco, 94102
United States

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Shane Bauer
Senior Reporter, Mother Jones; Co-Author, A Sliver of Light
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Alysia Santo
Staff Reporter, the Marshall Project
Jeanne Woodford
Former Warden, San Quentin State Prison; Former Undersecretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
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Mina Kim
News Anchor and Friday's "Forum" Host, KQED—Moderator

5:45 p.m. check-in
6:30 p.m. program