We've heard what happens in prisons when they think no one's watching, so how could we allow private prisons to hide behind the secrecy? Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee thinks its time to pass a Private Prison Information Act.

With the CIA’s torture practices recently coming to light, a close eye is being kept on our prison systems. What made the CIA’s report so terrifying was the fact that all this was going on right under the government’s nose. So the question has to be asked: how much do we really know about our prisons?

When it comes to government run prisons, the Freedom of Information Act allows you to request any information about prisoner demographics, violent incidents, and prison budgets. However, privately run prisons do not have to oblige by that rule. That is why Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) introduced legislation to change that. She introduced a new bill, the Private Prison Information Act, that if passed would force any nonfederal prison holding federal prisoners to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

Alex Park of Mother Jones points out:

Increasing numbers of prisoners are locked up in facilities that are legally immune to open-records requests. From 2000 to 2009, the number of people locked up in private facilities at every level of the justice system increased 37 percent, to 129,336, according to the Department of Justice. By the end of 2013, 133,000 inmates—about 8 percent of the entire US prison population—were housed in private prisons. The figure is on par with the entire California prison population at that time.

With so many prisoners locked away in private facilities, do we really want them operating under a cloak of secrecy?

Watch this episode of #Off The Grid to learn more about our prison systems:

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