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Georgia Capitol Visit

The result of the gathering at the State Capitol. Information about how prison has become “big business.” Be careful! Thanks Matthew!

Our story with the most shares this week focused on the rise of private, for-profit prisons. Yes, there is such a thing; in fact, it’s a $70 billion industry and many of the major contractors who oversee these prisons are also publicly traded corporations.

Wait, how?

States hire these companies because they’re cash strapped, and the cost of incarcerating people is not cheap — between $24,000-$30,000 annually. Private prison companies claim they can house, feed, and monitor inmates more cost effectively than state governments and so there you have it– they win big contracts.

Why is this messed up?

Most private prison contractors have occupancy guarantees that mandate their prisons remain between 80 and 90 percent full. In other words, the more prisoners they house, the more money they make. And the more prisons that are built, the more contracts they win.

A perverse business model

The business model of private prisons is to maximize the amount of people in America who are locked up– not to rehabilitate or ultimately lower incarceration rates. That’s why these companies fight hard for “tough on crime” policies. In the past 10 years, the Corrections Corporation of America (the largest private prison company) spent 17.4 million on lobbying government to criminalize more activities and increase sentencing periods.

This is one reason why America has more prisoners per capita than any other nation in the world and why nearly 1 in 3 young people will be arrested by age 23.

So what can we do?

For starters, do not invest in or buy shares of publicly traded private prison corporations. Second, vote for politicians who want to reduce the incarceration rate and end the War on Drugs. If you are not registered to vote, you can do so here.

 

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