Part 1 of 4: Gaming the System: How the Political Srategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies (JusticePolicy.org)
“At a time when many policymakers are looking at criminal and juvenile justice reforms that would safely shrink the size of our prison population, the existence of private prison companies creates a countervailing interest in preserving the current approach to criminal justice and increasing the use of incarceration.
Approximately 129,000 people were held in privately managed correctional facilities in the United States as of December 31, 2009; 16.4 percent of federal and 6.8 percent of state populations were held in private facilities. Since 2000, private prisons have increased their share of the ‘market’ substantially: the number of people held in private federal facilities increased approximately 120 percent, while the number held in private state facilities increased approximately 33 percent. During this same period, the total number of people in prison increased less than 16 percent. Meanwhile, spending on corrections has increased 72 percent since 1997, to $74 billion in 2007. The two largest private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, combined had over $2.9 billion in revenue in 2010.
While private prison companies may try to present themselves as just meeting existing ‘demand’ for prison beds and responding to current ‘market’ conditions, in fact they have worked hard over the past decade to create markets for their product. As revenues of private prison companies have grown over the past decade, the companies have had more resources with which to build political power, and they have used this power to promote policies that lead to higher rates of incarceration.”
Part 2 of 4: Prisons for Profit (PBS NOW Video)
“Corporations [ esp. Correctiions Corporation of Ammerica and GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut) ] are running many American prisons, but will they put profits before prisoners? A grim new statistic: One in every hundred Americans is now locked behind bars. As the prison population grows faster than the government can build prisons, private companies see an opportunity for profit. This week, NOW on PBS investigates the government’s trend to outsource prisons and prisoners to the private sector. Critics accuse private prisons of standing in the way of sentencing reform and sacrificing public safety to maximize profits.”–PBS
Part 3 of 4: Immigrant Detainees: A New Profit Center? (PBS NOW Video)
“NOW looks at how the private corrections industry is profiting when immigrants — including children — are held in detention centers awaiting deportation. Loretta Perry-Wilborne, a former employee of the Aurora Detention Center in Colorado, gives us an insider’s view of a detainees’ life behind bars. ‘It’s freezing in the winter time … and we have a lot of detainees that get sick,’ she tells NOW”–PBS
Part 4 of 4: Florida Judge Calls Prison Outsourcing Unconstitutional (Miami Herald)
“A state judge ruled Friday that the Legislature violated the law and Florida’s Constitution by using budget language to order prisons to be privatized in 18 South Florida counties, and demanded that the project be stopped immediately. ‘Actions taken to date are declared illegal without authority in violation of law,’ Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford wrote in a strongly-worded, six-page decision that faulted lawmakers for a lack of transparency. Fulford said the Legislature trampled on existing privatization law by ordering the Department of Corrections to seek proposals from private vendors to run 29 prisons and work camps. She also found that the project violated state law because the agency failed to do a business-case study of the pros and cons of privatization before seeking proposals from vendors.”