On Hillary Clinton and CCA campaign donations

A spokesman for Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of American tells the Tennessean it’s no big deal that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has announced she will not take campaign contributions from CCA or other private prison operators.

Clinton has also declared that, if elected, she will push to end federal government contracting for private prison operation. Her move comes after reports that a lobbying firm, which is retained by CCA, has donated about $240,000 to the Clinton campaign.

“Hillary Clinton has said we must end the era of mass incarceration, and as president, she will end private prisons and private immigrant detention centers,” campaign spokesman Tyrone Gayle said in a statement to The Tennessean.

“She believes that we should not contract out this core responsibility of the federal government, and when we’re dealing with a mass incarceration crisis, we don’t need private industry incentives that may contribute — or have the appearance of contributing — to over-incarceration.”

…Lobbyists represent multiple people frequently, and that doesn’t mean there are ties between a lobbyist’s separate clients, argued CCA spokesman Jonathan Burns.

“CCA has not donated money to the Clinton presidential campaign, nor have any lobbyists donated to the campaign on our behalf. We hardly think it’s newsworthy that professional critics of our industry have persuaded a candidate to stop doing something that she already doesn’t do,” Burns said in a statement.

“We do think it’s unfortunate that they advocate against the benefits we provide without themselves offering any real solutions to the serious challenges our corrections and detention systems face.”

CCA is the largest private prison company in the country. In addition to managing three Tennessee prisons and one of Metro’s detention centers, it houses thousands of inmates and immigrants across the country in prisons and detention centers.

Critics argue CCA and other private prison companies have a financial incentive to keep inmates in prison, or to keep their beds full. Private prison companies have denied those allegations, arguing they do the best they can to keep communities safe.