Bernie Sanders’s plan to abolish private prisons, explained – Updated by German Lopez on September 18, 2015, 12:00 a.m. ET

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Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to abolish a multibillion-dollar industry: private prisons.

The presidential hopeful introduced a bill on Thursday that would ban private prisons within a few years, taking aim at what he called a “broken criminal justice system” and mass incarceration.

The plan is just the latest in what’s increasingly becoming one of the biggest issues of the Democratic primaries: criminal justice. Hillary Clinton recently released an anti-drug plan that tries to shift drug policies away from punitive criminal justice measures to public health programs, and Sanders and Martin O’Malley released plans for addressing racial justice issues.

Still, Sanders’s plan by itself probably wouldn’t do much to reduce mass incarceration. While private prisons are a favorite target of liberals like Sanders, they house a small percentage of convicted criminals. The most effective part of Sanders’s plan, in fact, may be a provision that has nothing to do with private prisons at all.

Sanders’s plan would ban private prisons within a few years

The bill takes six main steps, according to Sanders’s office:

  1. Prohibit local, state, and federal contracts for privately run prisons within two years, with the possibility of a one-year extension if deemed necessary by the US attorney general.
  2. Eliminate private immigration detention centers within two years, with the possibility of a one-year extension if deemed necessary by the US attorney general.
  3. End the requirement that the federal government maintain a certain number of beds for immigrant detainees.
  4. Stop the detention of immigrant families caught at the border, and increase monitoring of immigrant detention facilities to ensure more humane conditions.
  5. Increase oversight to stop private companies from overcharging inmates for services like banking and phone calls.
  6. Reinstate the federal parole system.

Why Sanders introduced the plan

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How Going To College Could Change Under Hillary Clinton’s New Plan – ANYA KAMENETZ AUGUST 11, 2015 4:53 AM ET

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Trident Technical College during a campaign stop on June 17 in North Charleston, S.C.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Trident Technical College during a campaign stop on June 17 in North Charleston, S.C. David Goldman/AP

This week Hillary Clinton released a big complicated campaign proposal she calls the New College Compact. It’s stuffed with ideas that have been brought up by other presidential candidates, both to the left and the right: free tuition (Bernie Sanders); debt-free college (Martin O’Malley); more affordable student loan repayment (Marco Rubio); and lowering costs overall (Jeb Bush).

One big takeaway from all this is that college affordability may have become the mainstream, crowdpleasing middle-class issue of the moment, like homeownership or Social Security or health care in previous eras. And when you read between the lines of Clinton’s plan, what emerges are a lot of shifts in how Americans perceive, and achieve, what is increasingly a requirement for prosperity: a college degree.

Here are some of those new realities.

Community college is more important than ever.

Two-year colleges enroll 40 percent of undergraduates in the United States. Clinton’s proposal would make public two-year colleges tuition-free. President Obama proposed the same at the start of the year. Sara Goldrick-Rab, a higher education scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who was an architect of Obama’s proposal, suggests that this is all leading to a public guarantee of 14, rather than 12, years of free education.

Commuting — not living on campus — is the new normal.

Clinton’s proposal would hand out incentive grants to states that agree to guarantee “no-loan tuition” for public universities. But at public colleges on average, living expenses like room and board cost as much as tuition. So avoiding debt could lead to more and more students foregoing the classic tropes of campus life, from frat-house living to unlimited soft serve in the dining hall. Those perks may fall under the axe anyway: Under the New College Compact, the money would go only to institutions that agree to cut costs and apply the funds strictly to instruction, not to hot tubs and climbing walls.


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Bernie Sanders is winning the internet and changing the conversation – by Matthew Yglesias and Joe Posner on June 2, 2015

Bernie Sanders’s quest for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination is very unlikely to succeed, but his campaign has become an unlikely internet sensation, with Sanders content dominating social shares and driving coverage decisions. He’s changing the conversation in American politics with an unusual — and effective — brand of politics.

Sanders’s virality doesn’t show that he has a chance to win. If anything, it’s the opposite. His virality stems, in part, from the fact that he isn’t even trying. Most politicians are trying, on some level, for mainstream influence. Even a long-shot candidate like Martin O’Malley really might become the Democratic nominee if Hillary Clinton is struck by lightning or suffers some unforeseen meltdown.

Sanders isn’t like that. He’s not going to win no matter what, and he knows it. After all, he is an avowed socialist with zero interest in big-dollar fundraising who’s not afraid to say he thinks the US should fundamentally transform itself into a different kind of country.

That leaves him free to just come out and say things that nobody making a serious bid for national office would say. Case in point: his recent exchange with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos. Here, Sanders praised the Nordic social model. When Stephanopoulos said it would be impolitic to say America should emulate foreign nations, Sanders said he didn’t care. Sanders isn’t going to be president no matter what he says to George Stephanopoulos, so he might as well say what he thinks.

That’s not really a path to victory, but it’s certainly a path to social shares.

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Will Deschamps, state chairman of Montana, wears a tie decorated with elephant mascots at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a wealthy former business executive who served as Massachusetts governor and as a bishop in the Mormon church, is under pressure to show undecided voters more personality and emotion in his convention speech tonight, even as fiscal conservatives in his own party say he must more clearly define his plans for reining in the deficit and improving the economy. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

For most of modern U.S. political history, Republicans in general have cast themselves as the party of fiscally responsible governance, adhering to a simple equation: low government spending plus tax cuts – the bigger, and broader, the better – equals all-but-guaranteed economic growth and full government coffers.

Look at states governed by Republicans, however, and it seems that the GOP might need a collective refresher course in economics, if not general math.

Five years after the economic recession wreaked havoc on their budgets, at least a dozen red states are awash in red ink, facing nine- and ten-figure deficits heading into the new fiscal year. That’s led GOP governors who won office by pledging fiscal responsibility, and bans on new taxes, to slash spending on everything from education to the environment while simultaneously increasing the financial burdens for the poor, along with the use of accounting sleight-of-hand to make the books look better.

[READ: Which America: Jindal’s Louisiana or O’Malley’s Maryland?]

Though it’s clearly a bipartisan issue – Maryland’s new Republican governor, Larry Hogan, inherited a $1.2 billion budget deficit from former governor (and future Democratic presidential candidate) Martin O’Malley – the rising red tide could wash away the so-called “Laffer Curve,” a key element of Republicans’ long-held fiscal orthodoxy that asserts tax cuts pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth.

In Kansas, two-term Republican Gov. Sam Brownback famously declared his state was a real-world “experiment” for the GOP’s fiscal ideas devised by Arthur Laffer, an influential conservative economist and one of Brownback’s key advisers. Despite Laffer’s presence on his policy team, Brownback’s state’s budget is nearly $1 billion in the red, forcing the governor to make deep cuts in education, social programs and some services.

The deficits could also sweep into the dustbin the presidential ambitions of at least three Republican governors who are struggling to balance the books in their home states even as they try to make names for themselves on the national political stage.

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Baltimore Could Be a Burden for Martin O’Malley’s Long-Shot Presidential Hopes – By JASON HOROWITZ APRIL 30, 2015

BALTIMORE — One day last fall, on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley stood atop Fort McHenry and swept his hand over the landscape below. “That was the battlefield,” he said. “It all happened here.”

The same could be said for much of Mr. O’Malley’s political career. Baltimore has defined him, whether as a 28-year-old member of the City Council or as a two-term mayor whose strength in the city twice propelled him to the governor’s mansion.

But this week, as Mr. O’Malley prepares his long-shot challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, Baltimore became a burden.

When riots exploded over the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who was critically injured in police custody, Mr. O’Malley rushed back to the cityfrom London to visit the scene of the protests, meet with local leaders and deliver food at churches. But on those familiar streets, critics old and new questioned his record as mayor, the “zero tolerance” brand of policing he introduced and the lingering effects it had on the relationship between law enforcement and Baltimore’s poor communities.

Interactive Feature | Who Is Running for President (and Who’s Not)? At least a dozen Republicans and a handful of Democrats have expressed an interest in running for their party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

​Martin O’Malley: Presidency isn’t a “crown to be passed between two families” – By REENA FLORESCBS NEWSMarch 29, 2015, 3:53 PM

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., wants a change in U.S. leadership come 2016, attacking presidential frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) stands at the podium as former U.S. President Bill Clinton leaves the stage during the opening plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), on September 22, 2014 in New York City. JOHN MOORE, GETTY IMAGES


CBS News poll asks what Americans think of 2016’s potential candidates

“I think that our country always benefits from new leadership and new perspectives,” O’Malley said Sunday in an ABC News interview. “Let’s be honest here, the presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families. It is an awesome and sacred trust that to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people.”

The likely presidential candidate has told reporters that he would decide on a 2016 White House bid by the spring. But O’Malley’s criticisms of Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee and Bush, the current Republican frontrunner, on national television could indicate that the former Maryland governor has already made up his mind.

“I believe that there are new perspectives that are needed in order for us to solve the problems that we face as Americans,” O’Malley said. “And I believe that new perspective and new leadership is needed.”

When asked if he supported Hillary Clinton as a candidate for the White House, he said he remained undecided.

“I don’t know where she stands,” O’Malley said. “Will she represent a break with the failed policies of the past? Well, I don’t know.”