CCA is the leading participant in, and in many ways the embodiment of, one of the most controversial industries ever created—the incarceration of people for profit. While the company is looking back through rose-colored glasses, there is a need for a critical analysis of what CCA has brought to the world of corrections. That is the purpose of this report.
Even by its own standards, CCA has not been a success. Rather than taking the industry by storm, it still manages only about three percent of prison and jail beds in the United States, and its global aspirations had to be abandoned.
Only a few years ago, CCA was being widely vilified
for poor management practices at a number of its facilities that were associated with abuse, violence and escapes. At the same time, the company went through an ill-advised corporate restructuring which, along with huge losses and crushing debt, nearly forced it into bankruptcy. In 2000 the chief executive of CCA, who had been one of the firm’s founders, was unceremoniously forced out of office. The management shakeup was accompanied by a $120 million settlement of lawsuits brought by angry shareholders.The report goes on beyond allegations to numerous proven facts that do not reflect well on CCA.
During the past four years, the new leadership of CCA has worked hard to persuade investors, governments and the public that the company has fundamentally changed. Management would have us believe that CCA is now free from the scandals and deficiencies that characterized its performance during the late 1990s.
Our main conclusion is that this is not the case. Thanks in part to a concerted public relations strategy by the company and its trade organization, the Association of Private Correctional & Treatment Organizations, CCA is no longer receiving a great deal of negative national media attention, but that does not mean the underlying problems have disappeared. Our review of court records, government reports and local news accounts shows that over the past several years, CCA has been buffeted by numerous lawsuits and scandals involving allegations of:
Hm, 2003. That was before the GEO private prison in Littlefield, Texas closed. Before the state prison in Grayson County, Virginia never opened. Before a majority of Americans decided they want to legalize marijuana use. And before the Florida Senate rejected a move to privatize Florida’s prisons. So that 2003 report is pretty damning about CCA, and things have gotten even worse for CCA’s business model since then.