The Problem with Private Prisons

A private prison - for-profit prison, is a place where people are imprisoned by a third party that is contracted by a government agency. Private prison companies enter into contractual agreements with governments that house inmates; and then pay a per diem, or monthly rate, either for each prisoner in the facility, or for each place available- regardless it the bed is occupied or not.

Contracting prisons for profit  leads to increased incarceration. In 2013 U.S. Department of Justice show that, there were 133,000 state and federal prisoners housed in privately owned prisons in the U.S. 19.1% of the federal prison population are housed in private prisons and 6.8% of state prison population is housed in private prisons.

Companies operating such facilities include the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the GEO Group, Inc., Management and Training Corporation (MTC), and Community Education Centers. In the past two decades CCA has seen its profits increase by more than 500 percent. In 2011 the prison industry as a whole took in over $5 billion in revenue.

When  prisons start selling stock it is no longer about rehabilitation it is about profit. When our own judicial system is investing in our prisons this is a conflict of interest and only incentives mass incarceration. The for private prisons system is operating for profit and has become lucrative and a profitable business.

Wells Fargo has around $100 million invested in GEO Group and $6 million in CCA. Other major investors include Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, General Electric and The Vanguard Group. CCA's share price went from a dollar in 2000 to $34.34 in 2013. Columbia University in 2013 owned $8 million worth of CCA stock.

Private prison firms are seeking to maintain profitability by expanding into new markets previously served by non-profit behavioral health and treatment-oriented agencies, including prison medical care, forensic mental hospitals, civil commitment centers, halfway houses and home arrest.

A 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Justice asserts that privately operated federal facilities are less safe, less secure and more punitive than other federal prisons. 

I will be covering Private Immigration Prisons shortly: CCA and GEO Group have expanded into the immigrant detention market. The combined revenues of CCA and GEO Group were about $4 billion in 2017 from private prison contracts, their number one customer was ICE.

The time is now to eliminate private prisons. I urge all of you to dig deep in your hearts, and examine these issues and policies and help others embrace a new way forward that values an empathy based agenda to the private prison industry and policies.

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