Bloomberg discovers mandated prison beds for CCA profit

The feds also fell for CCA’s prison snakeoil; it’s not just for states like Georgia.

William Selway & Margaret Newkirk wrote for Bloomberg 24 September 2013, Congress Mandates Jail Beds for 34,000 Immigrants as Private Prisons Profit,

Noemi Romero, who came to the U.S. illegally at age 3, was arrested in January working at a Phoenix grocery store, where she used someone else’s name to get the job.

Romero, a 21-year-old who likes to draw and dance, spent the next four months behind bars, almost half of it in a cramped cell at a 1,596-bed detention center in Eloy, Arizona, run by Corrections Corp. of America. The company, with Geo Group Inc. (GEO) and other for-profit prison operators, holds almost two-thirds of all immigrants detained each day in federally funded prisons as they face deportation, U.S. data show.

Under law, taxpayers must pay to keep 34,000 people like Romero in jail, at a cost of about $120 each per day, even as the number of immigrants caught sneaking across the border has fallen by more than half since the past recession began.

Since 2009, when then-Senator Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat, inserted a change into the Homeland Security Department’s annual spending bill, federal immigration officials have been placed in the unusual position of operating under a statutory quota on how many people to hold behind bars. Congressional Republicans have been defending it ever since.

“People are being kept in detention — in many cases for weeks or months at a time — without consideration for the individual circumstances,” said Denise Gilman, co-director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas law school in Austin. “This is being done at a tremendous financial cost to taxpayers and a tremendous human cost to families.”

Remember, “anti-immigrant” laws like those passed by Arizona and Georgia aren’t about expelling immigrants from the country. They’re full of new misdemeanors and felonies that let CCA lock up more people. More “customers”, more profit!

And it’s even worse than that. Prisoners serve as cheap labor, competing with local free labor.

Much of this thanks to ALEC, which drafts the bills, not only for private prisons but also against renewable energy, for for-profit charter schools, and on and on.

All at the expense of we the taxpayers. And at the destruction of families and to the detriment of society as a whole.