But while the number of incarcerated people has grown sevenfold, the number of homicides have dropped significantly between 1990 and 2011, according to a
“Thanks to the ‘War on Drugs,’ irrationally harsh sentencing regimes, and a refusal to consider evidence-based alternatives, the U.S. prison population grew by more than 700% between 1970 and 2009—far outpacing both population growth and crime rates,” the ACLU report states.
The Rise of Private Prisons
In order to keep up with the growing influx of prisoners, the federal and state governments turned to private investors to fund new prisons and run them.
Today’s modern private prison system was first established in 1984, when a Tennessee based company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), was granted a contract to take over a jail facility in Hamilton County, Tennessee. Thomas Beasley, a Republican activist, founded the CCA in 1983.
State and federal governments have stated that the main reason for signing contracts with private prison facilities is that they can save money.
Carl Takei, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, disagrees.
“The evidence of cost saving is mixed,” said Takei.
Takei, however, argued that Blackstone and Hakim “failed to disclose the source of funding for their study. The study was funded by [the] private corrections industry.”
And Tennesseans were right. The rate of incidents involving assaults and disturbances in Tennessee private prisons are higher than state prisons, according to a
Radio VR approached CCA’s public affairs officer, Steve Owen, three times by phone but he was not available to comment on the number of facilities CCA is currently running.
Together with CCA, the GEO Group and Management and Training Corporation (MTC) own the majority of the private prisons in the US, according to Takei.
The private prisons corporations’ main way of cutting costs is cutting spending in bettering the security and safety condition of the prisons.
Private prison employees overall receive 58 hours less training than government employees, according to the AFSC report. This cut back on the number of hours can compromise the safety and security of the inmates and the employees.
Additionally, private prisons remain almost always understaffed due to high employee turnover rates. Consequently, private prisons have higher rate of escapes in comparison to state or federal prisons.
Economics of Private Prisons
Private prison corporations have used different strategies to maintain their profitability.
Lobbyists: Private prisons corporations are businesses and prisoners are their merchandise – If people are not in prison, then the corporations that own them don’t get paid. The private prison complex industry hires lobbyists to advocate for longer and harsher prison sentences. Besides hiring lobbyists, the private prisons complex structures their contracts with states and federal government in way that requires them to send more people to prison.
CCA sent a
Lappin is a former director of Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Private prison companies are also working on criminalization of immigration. According to the
Political donations: Paul Ashton author of Game the System
He also adds “private prison companies’ interests lie in promoting their business through maintaining political relationships rather than saving taxpayer dollars and effectively ensuring public safety.”