Prisons should NEVER be profit driven. In fact, if we actually had a functioning criminal justice system, prisons should be shutting down. The prison industrial complex is destroying families, debilitating communities—especially communities of color—and destabilizing society in general. When you allow money and profits to drive the prison system, they will continue to profit from filling the beds they make; this is a gross injustice that Virginia must end.
A version of this question was also asked during a Candidate Forum and I very gutsily started my answer with “Abolish the police’ to demonstrate that we need to start with something radical in order to begin conversations on criminal justice reform, particularly when addressing mass incarceration and the disparate treatment of women and men of color. America incarcerates more people and the most women than any other country in the world. Reforming drug laws, reinstating voting rights, preventing recidivism through employment and community support and educating police forces in diversity and de-escalation is one step that Virginia can take to reversing such an oppressive system.
During law school, I led our student protest against a prosecution clinic in the already over-policed, poorer neighborhoods around our school. Seattle was an example in Michele Alexander’s The New Jim Crowbecause despite being one of the whitest cities in America, it still incarcerates minorities at the same high rates. Knowing this, I could not let such a clinic happen and I needed to educate my school leadership as well as my peers as to precisely why. You can read more about my work here: https://www.thestranger.com/seattle/crass-course/Content?oid=17105646
I am also no stranger to the fact that for-profit prisons are a byproduct of big money in politics. Since Virginia does not any meaningful campaign finance laws on its books, we are especially susceptible to private interests co-opting public policies. There is no question in my mind that Citizens United needs to be overturned to make the kind of policies I want for Virginia possible.