Happy Birthday to the Corrections Corporation of America? Thirty Years of Banking on Bondage Leaves Little to Celebrate


Corrections Corporation of America
Corrections Corporation of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Carl Takei, ACLU National Prison Project

Thirty years ago yesterday, two retired military officers and a former prison administrator founded the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the first for-profit prison company in modern America. Today, CCA is the nation’s largest owner and operator of for-profit prisons, with annual revenues topping $1.7 billion. On an average day, the company incarcerates 81,384 people – more than the states of New York and New Jersey combined.

CCA essentially admits that their current profitability depends on high rates of incarceration.  In their 2011 10-K report, filed publicly with the Securities and Exchange Commission, CCA stated:

“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 criminal laws.”

Specifically, “any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration” could “potentially reduc[e] demand for correctional facilities,” as would “mak[ing] more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior,” the adoption of “sentencing alternatives [that]…could put some offenders on probation,” or “reductions in crime rates.”

As detailed in a 2011 ACLU report, massive increases in overall incarceration rates from the 1970s onward created a fertile environment for the growth of for-profit imprisonment. From 1970 to 2005, the U.S. prison population increased by approximately 700% – far outpacing crime rates and the growth of the general population. Today, more Americans are deprived of their liberty than ever before – unfairly and unnecessarily, with little benefit to public safety. Many of them are in private prisons: the latest figures from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics show that for-profit companies presently control about 18% of federal prisoners and 6.7% of all state prisoners, and the most recent federal survey of correctional facilities revealed that private prisons accounted for nearly all of the new prisons built between 2000 and 2005.

Continue Reading @ ACLU Blog

 

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4 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to the Corrections Corporation of America? Thirty Years of Banking on Bondage Leaves Little to Celebrate

  1. I have such an issue with this whole concept, and this company in particular. The very definition of the term Criminal Justice negates the concept of private profit. We are a nation built (allegedly) on a social contract. Criminals who violate that contract don’t merely harm their individual victims, but rather – and moreover – harm the state. Justice is not revenge. Justice is the job of the state in exacting retribution for that harm. Dockets read, “The state of ________ vs. John Doe,”

    On numerous occasions I have written that Civics teaches us that the primary duty of government in Criminal Justice is to try at all costs to keep individuals out of prison. Without those safeguards, we might as well be living under Stalin.

    Like

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