August 25th, 2016
Private prisons claim to offer better services for less money than state-run facilities. That discussion overlooks the basic problem that their business model relies on imprisoning lots of people. (Oh, and the rampant human rights abuses, too.)
An article in the New Yorker highlights how the Corrections Corporation of America admitted in its annual report that mass incarceration is good for business. The company also suggested that drug law reform threatens its profits.
Here’s part of the report:
Our growth is generally dependent upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage new correctional and detention facilities. . . . The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction 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.
The prospect of financially damaging Corrections Corporation of America and others making money in the private prisons “industry” ought to provide plenty more motivation for drug policy reformers.
After the release of a damning government report on private prisons, the Department of Justice recently announced that the federal government will stop using them. Many states, however, will continue to be willing customers.