Lauren-Brooke Eisen: Inside Private Prisons

Wednesday November 8: 7:30PM 8:30PM

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In the 1980s politics experienced a shift, deciding to step-up efforts and started to crack-down on crime; however well-intended the idea may have been, there wasn’t enough preparation which led to several problems including overcrowded state prisons. This problem led to private companies coming up with a profitable solution: build and operate correctional facilities. Today more than 100,000 of the 1.5 million incarcerated Americans are held in these private prisons, structures which garner much-deserved criticism for their sole focus of profit - $5 billion in profit. And that is where heavy-hitter Lauren-Brooke Eisen steps into the scene.

A prosecutor, journalist, and attorney at policy think-tanks, Eisen is no stranger to these companies, having done extensive investigative reportage and quantitative and historical research in order to analyze privatized corrections in the United States. She’s examined every facet of the issue, from divestment campaigns to boardrooms to private immigration-detention centers and spoken with inmates, their families, correctional staff, policymakers, activists, Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees, undocumented immigrants, and the executives of America’s largest private prison corporations.

These private prisons have become the source of the anti-mass-incarceration movement; universities, political candidates, and the Department of Justice have all been to remove their connections with these companies. At the same time, impoverished rural town often try to garner these for-profit prison industry types to have them build facilities in order to create new jobs. With this in mind, Eisen has sifted through the complicated and recalcitrant incentives in the industry in order to build a guide for policymakers as a call for reform.

Join us in our 2nd Floor Art Department as Eisen shares her research with Slate staff writer Leon Neyfakh in an in-depth discussion.

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Lauren-Brooke Eisen is senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, where she focuses on changing financial incentives in the criminal-justice system. Previously she was a senior program associate at the Vera Institute of Justice in the Center on Sentencing and Corrections, served as an assistant district attorney in New York City, and taught criminal justice at Yale College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Leon Neyfakh is a staff writer at Slate, where he covers criminal justice in general and the Justice Department in particular. He previously worked at the Boston Globe as a reporter for the Ideas section. His first book, The Next Next Level: A Story of Friendship, Rap, and Almost Giving Up was published by Melville House in 2015.