United States private prison industry

This video from the USA is called You Go To Prison, They Get Paid.

By Dina Rasor, Truthout in the USA:

Prison Industries: “Don’t Let Society Improve or We Lose Business”

Thursday, 26 April 2012 10:20

One out of every 100 people in the United States is imprisoned. Even though we are 5 percent of the world’s population, we have 25 percent of the prisoners in the world. We are number one in the world in the number of people we imprison – we even beat China. A normal reaction to this situation would be to try to reform our laws, our judicial system – including sentencing – our prison system and our society so that we would not have the disconcerting distinction of being the number-one jailer in the world.

Instead, in the past decade, there has been a movement to privatize more and more of our state and federal prisons to save money (which has not materialized) and ease overcrowding under the pressure of the courts. This has led to a wide world of influence peddling, self-dealing and lobbying while preying on a captured group of people to fill prison beds. Just as I have feared that privatizing the logistics of war will encourage private war-service industries to lobby for a hot war or long occupation to keep their industries viable, there has emerged a group of prison industries, state and federal legislators, and other players who will continue to benefit from our disgraceful ranking as the world’s largest warden.

There are two very large and influential prison companies in the United States who are manipulating the system to make sure they have plenty of business: The GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut) and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). In the first part of this two-part series, I will explore The GEO Group’s influence peddling; next week, I will look at CCA.

If you have any doubt in your mind that improving society and lowering the number of prisoners in our country (normally considered a worthy social goal) is a threat to the prison industry business, all you need to do is to read about that concern in The GEO Group’s 2011 annual report:

In particular, the demand for our correctional and detention facilities and services and BI’s [a prison industry company Geo acquired in 2011] services could be adversely affected by changes in existing criminal or immigration laws, crime rates in jurisdictions in which we operate, the relaxation of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction, sentencing or deportation practices, and the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws or the loosening of immigration laws. For example, any changes with respect to the decriminalization of drugs and controlled substances could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, sentenced and incarcerated, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Similarly, reductions in crime rates could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities. Immigration reform laws which are currently a focus for legislators and politicians at the federal, state and local level also could materially adversely impact us.

This is an industry that needs misery, long sentences, rounded-up undocumented immigrants and increasing crime to flourish. In order to keep the prison beds filled, The GEO Group and others have paid out millions of dollars to lobbyists, federal and state legislators, and governors to allow our immigration problem to go unsolved, to make sure that no drugs are decriminalized and that an ineffective War on Drugs continues, and to make certain that long term prison sentences, like California’s three-strikes-and-you’re-imprisoned-for-life laws, keep a steady flow of revenue and profits flowing to their shareholders. They are also hoping that our national drop in crime is just a temporary trend.

According to California-drug-treatment.com: “Justice statistics also show that 47.5 percent of drug arrests in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. Also, almost 60 percent of state prison inmates who are serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity.” One can imagine that The GEO Group and others in the industry would be very concerned about the myriad of legislative bills and ballot initiatives floating around the country that threaten to legalize marijuana and reduce their number of paying “beds.”

America’s Top Prison Corporation: A Study in Predatory Capitalism and Cronyism. Dina Rasor, Truthout: “This week, I will tackle the largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and its unprecedented proposal to buy prisons from money-strapped states, as well as how CCA has gamed the system with trips through the revolving door, self-dealing and influence peddling. Just to set the stage as to how large the prison population is in the United States: our prison population is the highest in the world; one out of 100 US residents are in prison”: here.

Isn’t It Criminal to Put People in Prison so Corporations and Individuals Can Make a Profit? Here.

The Unbelievable Brutality Unleashed on Kids in For-Profit Prisons: here.

How America’s Largest Private Prison Operator Plans to Beat Corporate Income Tax. Christopher Francis Petrella, Truthout: “Although many on the left have rightly repudiated the myriad manifestations of prison privatization characterized, in part, by involuntary prison labor, ongoing health and safety violations, corporate financing and even ‘the New Jim Crow,’ few, if any, have called attention to the relatively obscure relationship between private prison companies and their IRS corporate classification filing status. Surprisingly, IRS filing designations might offer the public its clearest glimpse into the intentions of private prison companies behind closed doors”: here.

Yana Kunichoff, Truthout: “Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has ample reasons to pat itself on the back: … several of its facilities got over 98 percent ratings for ‘safety and security’ and it rounded off 2011 with a net income of $40.5 million in earnings. But below the spin is a different reality for the company and the prisoners that it oversees – food riots and abuse scandals”: here.

Louisiana is the world’s prison capital: here.

Christine Cegelis, Truthout: “There is probably no greater waste of our taxpayer money than the increased incarceration of our population. The state of Illinois had a prison population of 7,326 inmates in 1970; in 2012, the number has risen to over 48,000. Over that period of time, the state’s population has grown only by 12 percent. The average cost of incarceration is approximately $30,000 a year, and our Department of Corrections (DOC) has a budget of over $1.5 billion”: here.

Private Prisons Spend $45 Million on Lobbying, Rake in $5.1 Billion for Immigrant Detention Alone. Aviva Shen, ThinkProgress: “Nearly half of all immigrants detained by federal officials are held in facilities run by private prison companies, at an average cost for each detained immigrant is $166 a night. That’s added up to massive profits for Corrections Corporation of America, The GEO Group and other private prison companies”: here.

Mark Karlin, Truthout: “Michelle Alexander: The mass incarceration of poor people of color, particularly black men, has emerged as a new caste system, one specifically designed to address the social, economic, and political challenges of our time. It is, in my view, the moral equivalent of Jim Crow”: here.

Human Rights, Neo-liberalism and Mass Incarceration: here.

33 thoughts on “United States private prison industry

  1. Amazing, right? We’re supposed to be the shining light of freedom and we have more people in prison per capita than any other nation in the world.


  2. Hello friends,

    Anytime you would like a “first hand ” account of how this s SO TRUE. let me know. This country is in the business of prisons and wasting money, seen it personally, unfriggingbelievable.



  3. and now this: Lifelong Sentence for Children… pleae, visit my blog http://www.faktensucher.wordpress.com/ . I put together a lot of information; and, I got some very precious contacts to people who fight against DP, DR and Solitary Cells. We don´t need more “dreamers”, we need people who fight for justice: So many of people executed swared to be innocent. WHY DON´T BELIEVE THE SYSTEM these words?
    We are opening doors – sometimes to hells!


  4. Riot brings havoc to private jail

    UNITED STATES: A prison guard has been killed and several colleagues injured during an inmate uprising at a privately run Mississippi prison.

    Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) employees struggled to bring the disturbance under control with prisoners, mostly undocumented migrants from Mexico, remaining in control of the facility into Sunday evening.

    CCA said that five prison officers had been transported to a local hospital to treat their injuries and one was taken off site.

    It said the unrest had been “contained within the secure perimeter of the facility, with no threat to public safety.”



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    • Hi, thank You for informations! We need a new direction. So many people are in prison, and, what I read today, there are approximately 120.000 prisoners IN DEATH ROWS – waiting for execution or clemeny.
      Darcy sent a tweet: prison-gardeners beath a young, coloured-skin man, to death,
      I think it is too much violence on o n e place together. Too much power, to much violence, too much fear …
      I had an idea: to build little towns with family-groups and social-workers as a sort of
      “open prison”…. a vision…
      Annamaria (is my name)
      Yesterday I posted an article about prisons in UK and how to minimize the damage ….


  6. Friend —

    Think about this. The United States is spending over $200 billion a year on a justice system that locks up more people than any country on earth. We have more prisoners than China. More than Russia. More than anyone. This colossal system is hitting our communities with staggering financial and human costs.

    That’s why we’re launching a major new campaign here at Brave New Foundation — like Rethink Afghanistan, War Costs, Koch Brothers Exposed, Walmart, Outfoxed, and other campaigns we’ve done. It’s called Beyond Bars. Building off our work on Afghanistan and war profiteering, this campaign aims to change Americans’ thinking and inspire action through short videos and shareable graphics exposing the U.S. system of mass incarceration.

    This system is a beast — gobbling up resources that should be going to communities. WATCH THE VIDEO.

    Beyond Bars will investigate corporations that profit off incarceration and politicians that use “tough on crime” rhetoric to scare voters. But we won’t just expose the negative; we’ll also show better ways to achieve public safety: things like prevention, rehabilitation, and job opportunity. Such solutions would save untold billions of dollars every year while making communities safer.

    Will you join this campaign to curb mass incarceration? We want your thoughts, suggestions, and engagement as we begin this multi-year initiative. You can start now by sharing our new video to take a stand for a more just world.

    Robert Greenwald and Jesse Lava


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  15. Sign my petition in support of my Justice is Not for Sale Act and say you’ve had enough of millionaires and billionaires profiting by keeping more and more Americans behind bars.

    Linda –

    Today in America, shamefully, we have more people in jail than any other country on earth. The United States is home to 4.4 percent of the world’s population, and 22 percent of its prisoners.

    A big reason for this is because companies that profit from prisons have spent millions of dollars lobbying for laws that needlessly keep people behind bars for far too long.

    It is our job, in my view, to recreate our criminal justice system. And I believe that we cannot do that as long as corporations are allowed to profit from mass incarceration.

    Today this situation has gotten so out of hand that our prisoners are no longer people — they have simply become ​sources of profit as laborers who work for pennies an hour on behalf of major corporations. Keeping human beings in jail for long periods of time must no longer be an acceptable business model. Our focus should be on treating people with dignity and ensuring they have the resources they need to get back on their feet when they get out. I am glad that President Obama this week ordered the release of nearly 6,000 nonviolent offenders from federal prison, but there is much more to do.

    I have recently introduced legislation that will put an end to for-profit prisons. My bill will bar federal, state, and local governments from contracting with private companies who manage prisons, jails, or detention facilities. And it will require Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to improve their monitoring of detention facilities and eliminate private detention centers within 2 years.

    Now I want to know if you’re willing to fight with me on this issue.

    Sign my petition in support of my Justice is Not for Sale Act and say you’ve had enough of millionaires and billionaires profiting by keeping more and more Americans behind bars.

    The private-for-profit prison racket is a $70 billion industry, and with so much money at stake, it’s not surprising they’ve corrupted our political process.

    The industry has contributed millions of dollars to candidates in pursuit of laws that increase incarceration of nonviolent offenders — a practice that disproportionately impacts people of color in the United States. We must stop the practice of governments guaranteeing prison occupancy as part of deals with private corporations that incentivize states to keep prison cells filled. And we must stop the practice of private companies charging exorbitant rates for prisoners to contact their families by phone — sometimes up to several dollars per minute to talk with loved ones, and charging outrageous service fees to prisoners trying to access their money upon release. That kind of exploitation takes an already difficult family dynamic between husbands, wives, parents and children and strains it even further.

    It is wrong to profit from the imprisonment of human beings and the suffering of their families and friends. It’s time to end this morally repugnant process, and along with it, the era of mass incarceration.

    But my legislation goes even further. It also takes steps to reduce our bloated inmate population by reinstating the federal parole system so that officials can individually assess each prisoner’s risk and chance for rehabilitation. It ends the immigrant detention quota, which requires officials to hold a minimum of 34,000 people captive at any given time. And it would end the detention of immigrant families, many of whom are currently held in privately-owned facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania.

    If we act, not only can we prevent thousands of lives from being destroyed, but we can save billions of taxpayer dollars.

    Join me today.

    Sign my petition in support of my Justice is Not for Sale Act and say you’ve had enough of millionaires and billionaires profiting by keeping more and more Americans behind bars.

    This legislation enjoys a broad coalition of support on both sides of the aisle. And if we stand together and continue to bring attention to this issue, we can put a stop to the abomination of private prisons profiting from human suffering.

    Thank you for standing with me.

    In solidarity,

    Bernie Sanders


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