The private prison game: Banking on Bondage

Rania Khalek wrote for AlterNet 29 November 2011, The Shocking Ways the Corporate Prison Industry Games the System
Just a decade ago, private prisons were a dying industry awash in corruption and mired in lawsuits, particularly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison operator. Today, these companies are booming once again, yet the lawsuits and scandals continue to pile up. Meanwhile, more and more evidence shows that compared to publicly run prisons, private jails are filthier, more violent, less accountable, and contrary to what privatization advocates peddle as truth, do not save money. In fact, more recent findings suggest that private prisons could be more costly.

So why are they still in business?

In a recently published report, “Banking on Bondage: Mass Incarceration and Private Prisons,” the American Civil Liberties Union examines the history of prison privatization and finds that private prison companies owe their continued and prosperous existence to skyrocketing immigration detention post September 11 as well as the firm hold they have gained over elected and appointed officials.

We’d already heard from Bloomberg that CCA’s stock went up by a factor of 10 since 2001 because of anti-immigration laws. The ACLU report also goes into ALEC and lobbying, and how private prisons aren’t cheaper and are a danger to public safety.

Here’s a coincidence:

In 1984, the Corrections Corporation of America was awarded a contract to operate a public jail in Hamilton County, Tennessee, and the nation’s first-ever private prison was born.
Hamilton County, Tenn., also the model for the recent push to consolidate the school systems here, even though consolidation in Hamilton County was a failure. A push many of us successfully fought off: even though out financed ten to one, we won four to one. The community stood up against that scam. We can stand up against this one, too.

As ACLU report says:

The time to halt the expansion of for-profit incarceration is now.
You can help do that right here at home. We don’t need a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia. Spend those tax dollars on rehabilitation and education instead. Follow this link to petition the Industrial Authority.

-jsq

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