Prisons for Profit

Mike Paczesny | The Rundown Liveprison-cca-america

The U.S. has the world’s largest prison population, Since 1970, our prison population has risen 700%. One in 99 adults are living behind bars in the U.S. This marks the highest rate of imprisonment in American history.

One in 31 adults are under some form of correctional control, counting prison, jail, parole and probation populations.

Some prisoners are held by private companies.

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest owner of private prisons, has seen its revenue climb by more than 500 percent in the last two decades.

In 2012 the company made an offer to 48 governors to buy and operate their state-funded prisons.

CCA lobbyists have worked to pass or defeat private prison legislation in many localities, including Texas, New York, Illinois and Tennessee. CCA spent $17.4 million lobbying the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Office of Management and Budget, the Bureau of Prisons, both houses of Congress, and others between 2002 and 2012; including $1.9 million in campaign contributions.

According to the Boston Phoenix, CCA spent more than $2.7 million from 2006 through September 2008 on lobbying for stricter laws. CCA responded that it does not lobby lawmakers to increase jail time or push for longer sentences under any circumstance, noting that it “educates officials on the benefits of public-private partnership but does not lobby on crime and sentencing policies.” Among its risk factors listed in its 10-K annual report as required by the SEC, CCA includes the following:

The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.

At the federal level, the corporation’s lobbying focuses largely on immigrant detention.

In 2012, CCA spent $1,790,000 lobbying Congress and federal bureaucracies on issues relating to homeland security, law enforcement, immigrant detention, and information disclosure legislation.