Nonprofit Floats Unusual Alternative To Private Prison, September 5, 2014
By Saki Knafo
A group of activists in
have proposed a novel solution to a problem that has affected the
for decades: the practice of locking people up in private prisons that critics
say are more concerned with making money for their shareholders than with
helping lawbreakers turn their lives around. United States
Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, or CURE, a prison reform group comprised mainly of former inmates, wants to convert a private jail in D.C. into what they say would be the first nonprofit lockup in the country, if not the world. At this point, the idea is just that -- an idea. The group, which claims some 20,000 members throughout the country, convened its first meeting about the proposal on Friday at D.C.'s Harrington Hotel, but has yet to figure out any of the logistics of what they admit would be a complicated, even quixotic effort.
Charlie Sullivan, the executive director of CURE, acknowledged that the idea might make him sound like a knight "chasing after one of those windmills." Still, he argues that his idealism may be exactly what is needed.
What both the private and government-run prisons are doing is just holding people,” said Sullivan. “They’re playing defense; we need to play offense. We need to give people an opportunity to change their lives.”