You are on page 1of 281

 

Columbia  Prison  Divest  
columbiaprisondivest@gmail.com  
February  1st,  2015  
 
Columbia  Prison  Divest  Proposal  for  Divestment    
 
1.    Columbia  should  immediately  divest  all  shares  from  CCA  and  G4S,  and  provide  a  public  statement  
confirming  its  divestment  from  these  corporations.  We  want  Columbia  to  adopt  a  permanent  negative  
screen  for  CCA,  G4S,  and  the  GEO  Group  (the  second  largest  private  prison  company  in  the  U.S.)  to  
confirm  that  Columbia  will  not  invest  in  these  companies  in  the  future.  
 
2.  Columbia  should  publicly  communicate  the  urgency  of  prison  divestment  to  its  peer  institutions,  
insisting  that  they  too  divest  from  CCA,  GEO  Group,  and  G4S.1    
 
3.  We  want  greater  transparency  regarding  Columbia’s  investments.  The  complete  list  of  Columbia’s  
financial  holdings  should  be  made  available  to  the  Columbia  community  at  large  to  ensure  a  
meaningful  structure  of  accountability  and  transparency.  
 
Urgency  of  Divestment    
 
In  the  time  that  has  elapsed  since  we  first  brought  this  issue  to  the  school’s  attention,  these  
companies  have  built  and  opened  new  facilities,  including  most  recently  the  CCA’s  South  Texas  
Family  Residential  Center,  the  largest  immigrant  detention  facility  in  the  United  States.  Every  day,  
these  companies  engage  in  practices  that  enact  violence  upon  marginalized  communities,  both  here  in  
the  United  States  and  across  the  world.  Many  students  on  this  campus  come  from  these  communities  
and  Columbia’s  investment  in  the  incarceration  and  criminalization  of  our  loved  ones  effectively  
communicates  to  us  that  the  “fundamental  dignity  and  worth”2  of  our  communities  is  not  a  priority  for  
Columbia.  As  Professor  Brett  Dignam  stated  at  the  Community  Engagement  Panel,  her  experiences  as  
an  educator  have  shown  her  that  Columbia’s  investment  in  these  companies  has  an  immeasurable  
impact  on  its  students,  particularly  its  students  of  color.  As  students  disturbed  by  the  inconsistencies  
between  Columbia’s  rhetoric  and  its  practice,  we  cannot  overemphasize  the  urgency  of  our  demands  for  
immediate  divestment  from  the  private  prison  industry.    
 
ACSRI  Criteria  for  Divestment    
 
1. Institutional  Consensus  
 
There  is  a  clear  institutional  consensus  that  CCA,  GEO  Group,  and  G4S  are  morally  
reprehensible  companies  and  it  is  therefore  unacceptable  for  Columbia's  endowment  to  be  invested  in  
them​.    A  total  of  971  students,  faculty,  and  alumni  from  across  the  university  have  signed  a  petition  for  
referendum,  demonstrating  their  support  for  a  ballot  initiative  calling  on  the  university  to  divest3 .  Our  
change.org  petition  garnered  1,303  signatures  in  support  of  prison  divestment  at  Columbia4.    Supporters  
1

 ​The  “peer  institutions”  we  refer  to  include  but  are  not  limited  to  those  listed  in  Appendix  E.  
 Columbia  University  Statement  on  Equal  Opportunity  and  Affirmative  Action.  
http://eoaa.columbia.edu/affirmative%20action    
3
 ​See  Appendix  B  
4
 ​https://www.change.org/p/lee-­c-­bollinger-­divest-­from-­the-­private-­prison-­industry    
2

1  

 

filled  the  room  beyond  capacity  for  the  Community  Engagement  Panel  and  voiced  the  campus  
community’s  strong  belief  in  the  absolute  necessity  and  urgency  of  divestment.    As  one  student  stated,  
“after  sitting  through  the  divestment  panel,  I  was  unable  to  hear  a  single  reason  as  to  why  Columbia  
would  want  to  continue  investing  in  an  institution  that  profits  from  human  captivity,  yet  I  heard  account  
after  account  highlighting  the  personal  pain  that  comes  from  Columbia's  support  of  the  industry”5 .    The  
thousands  of  students  that  Columbia  Prison  Divest  has  interacted  with  at  various  teach-­ins,  educational  
events,  and  rallies  routinely  express  disbelief  that  Columbia  continues  to  hold  investments  in  
companies  so  contradictory  to  this  university’s  stated  values.    
 
2.  Merits  of  Dispute  Lie  Clearly  on  One  Side  
 
There  is  no  question  that  private  prisons  are  morally  and  socially  irresponsible  investments,  and  
that  divestment  from  CCA  and  G4S  as  well  as  a  negative  screen  for  GEO  Group  is  the  only  suitable  
option.  Divestment  from  CCA  and  G4S  is  necessary  for  two  primary  reasons.    Firstly,  CCA  and  G4S  
have  exploited  and  expanded  mass  incarceration  within  the  United  States  as  well  as  the  global  trend  of  
incarceration  and  policing  of  people  of  color.  Secondly,  divestment  from  these  companies  is  necessary  
due  to  the  systematic  human  rights  abuses  that  have  occurred  within  CCA  and  G4S  facilities  and  will  
continue  in  the  future,  because  the  aims  of  these  companies  is  to  gain  profit  regardless  of  human  cost.    
 
We  cannot  meaningfully  engage  the  issue  of  mass  incarceration  without  acknowledging  its  
basis  in  racism.  CCA  and  G4S  continue  to  profit  off  of  practices  that  incarcerate  increasing  numbers  of  
black  and  brown  people  for  longer  periods  of  time,  in  facilities  with  horrific  human  rights  track  records.  
Some  of  the  specific  practices  which  have  been  found  to  disproportionately  target  black  and  brown  
people  include  but  are  not  limited  to:  mandatory  minimum  sentencing,  3  strikes  laws,  and  Arizona’s  
SB10706 .  Christopher  Petrella,  one  of  the  panelists  at  the  Community  Engagement  Panel,  did  a  study  in  
2013  in  which  he  found  that  there  was  a  disproportionate  number  of  people  of  color  in  private  prison  
facilities  as  compared  to  the  number  of  people  of  color  in  public  prison  facilities7.  The  study  illuminates  
how  prisoners  deemed  less  worthy  of  comprehensive  medical  care  are  funneled  into  private  facilities  as  
a  cost-­saving  mechanism,  eviscerating  the  argument  that  private  prisons  are  a  fiscally  responsible  
option  for  local  governments.  Ultimately,  private  prison  companies  are  more  interested  in  filling  their  
facilities  and  cutting  costs  than  they  are  in  crime  reduction,  safety,  or  addressing  the  racial  disparities  
that  they  exploit  to  maximize  profits.  As  has  been  repeatedly  articulated  by  President  Bollinger  
throughout  his  career  and  in  a  recent  email  to  the  Columbia  community,  this  country  continues  to  deal  
with  the  legacies  of  generations  of  institutional  racism—from  slavery,  to  Jim  Crow,  to  our  current  era  
of  profit-­driven  hyper-­incarceration.  It  is  our  responsibility  as  an  elite  research  university  to  
meaningfully  address  private  prison  companies  as  one  of  many  instruments  being  used  to  reinforce  
pervading  racial  inequalities  today.    
 
Preferencing  profit  maximization  over  human  safety  and  well-­being,  private  prisons  cut  costs  
wherever  possible,  operating  facilities  in  which  human  rights  abuses  are  rampant.    Fraught  with  
extreme  violence  and  abuse  by  guards,  inadequately  trained  staff,  inhumane  conditions,  and  denial  of  
medical  care,  conditions  in  CCA  and  G4S  prisons  violate  non-­derogable  international  human  rights  
law.  Despite  the  overwhelming  number  and  nature  of  abuses  documented  in  these  facilities  and  the  
numerous  lawsuits  that  have  been  filed  against  them,  these  companies  have  failed  to  implement  
5

 See  Appendix  C  
 See  Appendix  A  
7
 See  Appendix  J  
6

2  

 

substantive  changes,  revealing  that  human  rights  violations  are  fundamentally  endemic  to  the  private  
prison  model.  Such  systematic  abuses  will  continue  to  happen  in  the  future  as  long  as  these  companies  
exist.    
 
Profiting  off  of  the  incarceration  and  policing  of  communities  of  color  locally  and  globally  is  
morally  reprehensible.  Like  CCA,  G4S  is  a  company  responsible  for  constructing  a  landscape  of  
discriminatory  incarceration  and  detention,  and  racial  inequality,  in  countless  countries,  from  the  UK  to  
Palestine8 .  Part  of  social  responsibility  is  acknowledging  that  what  Columbia  invests  in  as  a  leading  
American  university  and  the  practices  that  it  endorses  have  ramifications  that  are  also  felt  by  people  
abroad,  in  far  different  circumstances  than  our  own.  Columbia’s  investment  in  G4S  is  an  investment  in  
the  violation  of  the  basic  human  rights  of  people  of  color  across  the  world.  While  we  continue  to  hold  
this  investment  we  cannot  continue  to  honestly  call  ourselves  a  global  university,  speak  about  global  
citizenship,  or  use  our  international  students  to  boast  diversity.  
 
3.  Engagement  vs.  Divestment    
 
Private  prisons  are  fundamentally  socially  irresponsible.  Companies  should  not  profit  off  of  
maximizing  incarceration  and  detention,  and  universities  should  not  profit  off  of  incarceration  and  
detention  by  virtue  of  investing  in  such  companies.  This  is  why  divestment  is  necessary-­-­there  is  no  
way  of  reforming  a  system  whose  model  relies  on  the  violation  of  human  rights  and  the  perpetuation  of  
racial  inequality.  Communication  and  engagement  with  company  management  have  proven  to  be  an  
ineffective  strategy  for  addressing  the  unethical  practices  and  nature  of  both  CCA  and  G4S.  As  both  
Christopher  Petrella  and  Judith  Greene  explained  at  the  Community  Engagement  Panel,  there  have  
been  multiple  attempts  to  engage  with  CCA’s  management  in  order  to  bring  about  reform  and  
transparency9.  In  2007,  a  proposal  put  forward  by  a  coalition  of  religious  groups  invested  in  CCA  
would  have  required  “an  accounting  of  our  Company’s  funds  that  are  used  for  political  contributions  or  
expenditures”  and  disclosure  of  “the  internal  guidelines  or  policies,  if  any,  governing  our  company’s  
political  contributions  and  expenditures.”10  CCA’s  Board  of  Directors  unanimously  recommended  that  
stockholders  reject  the  proposal,  and  the  measure  was  voted  down.  CCA’s  Board  has  continued  to  
oppose  similar  proposals  brought  forward  by  its  own  shareholders.  Moreover,  private  prison  companies  
cannot  be  reformed  because  their  structure  is  premised  on  a  fundamentally  unethical  business  model:  
making  financial  gains  from  systems  of  policing  and  incarcerations  that  target  people  of  color,  poor  
people,  undocumented  people,  and  LGBTQ  people.  The  for-­profit  prison  industry,  as  exemplified  by  
CCA  and  G4S,  is  an  industry  which  prioritizes  profit  over  people  and  no  amount  of  reform  can  change  
that.    
 
Many  institutions  have  divested  from  G4S  on  the  basis  of  their  well-­documented  and  egregious  
human  rights  violations  alone.  ​In  2014,  Durham,  North  Carolina,  became  the  first  U.S.  municipality  to  
boycott  G4S  after  an  interfaith  coalition  wrote  to  the  Durham  County  Commissioners  and  over  200  
residents  created  a  visual  petition  highlighting  G4S's  involvement  in  Israel's  discriminatory  detention  
and  incarceration  practices​.11  Similarly,  the  University  of  Kent12,  Dundee  University13,  King’s  College  
8

 See  Appendix  K  and  L  
 See  Appendix  D  
10
 See  Appendix  F  
11
 ​http://mondoweiss.net/2014/11/dropping-­contract-­occupation  
12
 ​http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/uk-­student-­union-­to-­cancel-­g4s-­contract-­over-­role-­in-­israeli-­prisons-­11827  
13
 ​http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/dundee-­university-­students-­association-­votes-­to-­cut-­ties-­with-­g4s-­10705  
9

3  

 

London14,  Edinburgh  University15,  Southampton  University16,  University  of  Bergen17,  and  University  of  
Oslo18,  have  all  divested  from  or  formally  cut  ties  with  G4S.  Seven  of  the  nine  University  of  California  
undergraduate  campuses  have  passed  divestment  resolutions  in  student  governments-­-­UC  Irvine,  UC  
San  Diego,  UC  Riverside,  UC  Berkeley,  UC  Santa  Cruz,  UC  Los  Angeles,  and  most  recently  UC  Davis
19
.  In  2012  the  European  Union  declined  to  renew  its  contract  with  G4S20  and  the  Irish  government  did  
the  same  in  October  2014.21  In  December  2013  Abvakabo,  a  trade  union  in  the  Netherlands  composed  
of  over  350,000  members,  chose  to  terminate  its  contract  with  G4S  “for  its  role  in  Israel’s  violations  of  
international  law”22.  Similarly,  the  Trauma  Centre,  a  human  rights  organization  that  was  integral  to  
South  Africa’s  Truth  and  Reconciliation  Commission  and  supported  by  the  likes  of  Archbishop  
Desmond  Tutu,  terminated  its  contract  and  ties  with  G4S  in  2013,  saying,  “t​he  Trauma  Centre  is  
committed  to  creating  a  society  free  from  violence  and  torture  and  committed  to  a  culture  of  human  
rights  …  we  therefore  note  with  great  concern  the  serious  allegations  leveled  against  the  security  
company  G4S  of  complicity  in  the  illegal  incarceration  and  torture  of  Palestinians  in  Israel  and  the  
Occupied  Palestinian  Territories.” 23  
 
After  deciding  to  fully  divest  from  CCA  and  the  GEO  Group,  Hugh  Walsh,  the  president  of  
Amica  Mutual  Insurance  DSM  North  America  said,  “In  accordance  with  [U.N.]  principles  …  with  
respect  to  the  protection  of  internationally  proclaimed  human  rights,  the  [DSM  Netherlands]  pension  
fund  has  divested  from  the  for-­profit  prison  industry”24.  Many  companies  have  followed  suit  in  
committing  to  prison  divestment,  including  Pershing  Square  Capital  Management,  which  fully  divested  
its  CCA  holdings  of  over  7  million  shares  in  201125,  the  Podesta  group,  which  dropped  GEO  Group  as  a  
client  in  201226 ,  and  the  Allianz  Asset  Management  and  Systematic  Financial  Management  LP,  each  of  
which  fully  divested  their  over  1  million  shares  of  stock  in  CCA  and  GEO  Group  in  201327.  Others  
have  made  similar  stances,  including  Wells  Fargo  and  Company  and  its  subsidiaries,  which  divested  
80%  of  its  aggregate  holdings  in  the  GEO  Group,  and  Scopia  Capital  Management28,  which  divested  
$60  million  of  its  shares  in  CCA  and  the  GEO  Group  in  201429.  
14

 ​http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/11804-­11804  
 ​http://edinburghnapiernews.com/2013/11/20/boycott-­campaigns-­send-­g4s-­off-­campus/  
16
 ​http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/11804-­11804  
17
 
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/michael-­deas/second-­norwegian-­university-­drops-­g4s-­over-­support-­israeli-­apartheid  
18
 
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/michael-­deas/second-­norwegian-­university-­drops-­g4s-­over-­support-­israeli-­apartheid  
19
 
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-­barrows-­friedman/uc-­davis-­passes-­divestment-­resolution-­five-­other-­campaigns-­l
aunched  
20
 ​http://www.bdsmovement.net/2012/g4s-­loses-­its-­contract-­with-­the-­european-­parliament-­8901  
21
 
http://www.ipsc.ie/press-­releases/palestine-­campaigners-­celebrate-­exclusion-­of-­occupation-­profiteer-­g4s-­from-­govern
ment-­contract  
22
 ​http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/dutch-­union-­dumps-­g4s-­aiding-­israels-­human-­rights-­abuses-­11506  
23
 ​http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/sa-­trauma-­centre-­terminates-­g4s-­contract-­11413  
24
 ​http://www.mintpressnews.com/a-­win-­for-­civil-­society-­as-­corporations-­divest-­from-­private-­prison-­industry/190258/  
25
 ​http://inthesetimes.com/article/11623/divesting_from_private_prisons  
26
 ​https://prisondivestment.wordpress.com/home/campaign-­victories/  
27
 ibid  
 
28
 ​https://prisondivestment.wordpress.com/home/campaign-­victories/    
29
 ​http://colorofchange.org/press/releases/2014/4/23/major-­corporations-­divest-­nearly-­60m-­private-­priso/  
15

4  

 

 
In  his  email  to  the  student  body  on  Martin  Luther  King  Jr.  Day,  President  Bollinger  asked,  
“Now,  the  question  for  a  great  research  university  like  Columbia,  whose  students,  faculty,  and  alumni  
have  long  played  such  monumental  roles  in  the  quest  for  civil  and  human  rights  and  social  justice,  is:  
what  can  we  do  in  the  ways  of  research,  teaching,  and  public  understanding  to  contribute  to  the  
fundamental  changes  that  still  must  occur  if  our  nation  is  finally  to  transcend  the  past  and  live  up  to  its  
founding  principles?”​  There  is  no  singular  answer  to  this  question.  While  Columbia’s  students,  faculty,  
and  alumni  do  have  a  history  of  working  towards  equality,  as  a  university  we  also  have  a  troubling  
history  of  social  irresponsibility  and  complicity  in  the  oppression  of  marginalized  people,  which  we  
cannot  begin  to  rectify  without  divesting  from  the  for-­profit  prison  industry.  Divesting  from  private  
prison  companies  is  one  way  Columbia  can  manifest  its  commitment  to  the  pursuit  of  civil  and  human  
rights  and  social  justice.  
 
The  Columbia  Prison  Divest  Campaign  
 
This  proposal  was  compiled  by  the  following  Columbia  Prison  Divest  student  organizers:  
Bryant  Brown,  CC  ‘15  
Tess  Domb  Sadof,  CC  ‘16  
Ella  Every-­Wortman,  CC  ‘16  
Jesse  Ferrell,  CC  ‘16  
Oladunni  Oduyemi,  CC  ‘16  
Gabriela  Catalina  Pelsinger,  CC  ‘15  
Asha  Ransby-­Sporn,  CC  ‘16  
 
 

 

5  

APPENDIX  
 
A. Columbia  Prison  Divest  Presentation  to  the  ACSRI  
B. Petition  for  Referendum    
C. Quotes  from  Statement  of  Support  Google  form  
D. Letter  of  Support  from  Christopher  Petrella  
E. List  of  Schools  with  Prison  Divestment  Campaigns  
F. “Banking  on  Bondage:  Private  Prisons  and  Mass  Incarceration.”  ​American  Civil  Liberties  
Union​.  Accessed  February  1,  2015.  
https://www.aclu.org/prisoners-­rights/banking-­bondage-­private-­prisons-­and-­mass-­incarceration  
G. Ashton,  Paul,  Justice  Policy  Institute  Published:  June  22,  and  2011.  “Gaming  the  System:  How  
the  Political  Strategies  of  Private  Prison  Companies  Promote  Ineffective  Incarceration  
Policies.”  Accessed  February  1,  2015.  ​http://www.justicepolicy.org/research/2614​.    
H. “The  Dirty  Thirty:  Nothing  to  Celebrate  About  30  Years  of  Corrections  Corporation  of  
America.”  ​Grassroots  Leadership​.  Accessed  February  1,  2015.  
http://grassrootsleadership.org/cca-­dirty-­30​.    
I. “The  Secret  for-­Profit  Prisons  Don’t  Want  You  to  Know.”  ​In  the  Public  Interest​.  Accessed  
February  1,  2015.  
http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/article/criminal-­how-­lockup-­quotas-­and-­low-­crime-­taxes-­gu
arantee-­profits-­private-­prison-­corporations​.    
J. Petrella,  Christopher.  “The  Color  of  Corporate  Corrections,  Part  II:  Contractual  Exemptions  
and  the  Overrepresentation  of  People  of  Color  in  Private  Prisons.”  ​Radical  Criminology​  0,  no.  
3  (December  30,  2013).  ​http://journal.radicalcriminology.org/index.php/rc/article/view/44​.    
K. Gammeltoft-­hansen,  Thomas.  “When  It  Comes  to  Immigration,  Privatization  Can  Kill.”  ​The  
New  York  Times​,  April  1,  2012,  sec.  Opinion.  
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/opinion/when-­it-­comes-­to-­immigration-­privatization-­can-­
kill.html​.  
L. “G4S:  Securing  Whose  World?”  ​openDemocracy​.  Accessed  February  1,  2015.  
https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/shine-­light/g4s-­securing-­whose-­world    
M. “The  Influence  of  the  Private  Prison  Industry  in  Immigration  Detention  |  Detention  Watch  
Network.”  Accessed  February  1,  2015.  ​http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/privateprisons​.    
 

2/1/2015

Columbia Prison Divest Petition for a Referendum

Edit  this  form

Columbia Prison Divest Petition for a
Referendum
In order to have a vote on a ballot initiative for Prison Divestment in the next campus election,
we must first have enough students sign this petition to demonstrate campus-wide support.
REFERENDUM
We call on Columbia University to divest its endowment from the private prison industry,
specifically from the Corrections Corporation of America and G4S, and to confirm that it will
not invest in either of these companies or the GEO Group in the future. Private prison
companies have a fundamental interest in actively expanding incarceration and detention, as
their capital is accrued per body held in their facilities. The Corrections Corporation of America
and the GEO Group have lobbied for and collaborated in the creation of harsh sentencing laws,
immigration laws, and bed quotas. Such legislation directly contributes to higher rates of
incarceration, detention and deportation, all of which works to maximize the profits of these
companies. In addition to the long term cost-inefficiency of mass incarceration, and the
disproportionate representation of lower income people of color behind bars, this system has
not proven to increase safety or reduce crime. Further, the Corrections Corporation of America,
the GEO Group, and G4S have each demonstrated again and again that money-making
interests take precedence over safety and basic human rights. Cost cutting measures
contribute to high rates of human rights violations—including torture, violent treatment, sexual
harassment and assault, and death in detention—in these companies’ facilities.
We see these atrocities as results of the private prison industry’s systemic prioritization of
profit over people and thus shareholder activism or reform is not a viable possibility.
Columbia would join a range of investment companies and religious institutions by divesting
from these companies that consistently show a lack of concern for human rights, and that
contribute to a global system that disproportionately impacts communities of color, immigrant
communities, LGBTQ communities and working class communities. Divestment is necessary
from an ethical perspective, in affirming the dignity and worth of these communities that are
targeted by the systems of mass incarceration, detention, and deportation; in refusing to invest
in human rights abuses; and in acknowledging that justice should not be defined by corporate
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1g0dUBxtG_43g_HRmLuIQPKkxUdh8_3qg-SQ6_zq7EbI/viewform?fbzx=8860565113579243886

1/2

 
 
Community  Statements  of  Support  for  Prison  Divestment  
❖ Peter  Bailinson,  Student  &  Student  Body  President  of  the  Columbia  College  Student  Council,  
“I  have  a  stake  in  prison  divestment  because  I  believe  that  how  our  University  chooses  to  invest  
its  money  directly  reflects  the  values  of  our  institution,  and  I  also  believe  Columbia  needs  to  
listen  to  how  its  policies  affect  its  student  body.  After  sitting  through  the  divestment  panel,  I  
was  unable  to  hear  a  single  reason  as  to  why  Columbia  would  want  to  continue  investing  in  an  
institution  that  profits  from  human  captivity,  yet  I  heard  account  after  account  highlighting  the  
personal  pain  that  comes  from  Columbia's  support  of  the  industry.  I  think  that  Columbia  should  
show  that  it's  not  willing  to  neglect  its  students  just  to  earn  an  ROI,  and  I  hope  that  ACSRI  
makes  the  correct  decision  to  divest  from  private  prisons.”  
❖ Cooper  Matthieson,  Student,  “I  can't  stand  how  our  university  continues  to  act  two-­faced  on  
these  issues  -­  saying  they  support  and  celebrate  students  of  color  on  campus,  but  invest  in  
systems  that  very  clearly  target  and  imprison  those  same  communities  of  color  all  across  the  
country.  I  think  divestment  is  absolutely  necessary  and  I  know  I'm  not  going  to  donate  or  give  
back  to  Columbia  until  we  do  divest  from  both  the  private  prison  industry  and  from  fossil  
fuels.”  
❖ Julian  Brave  NoiseCat,  Student,  “Prison  divestment  is  urgent.  We  incarcerate  more  than  2  
million  people  in  the  United  States,  and  private  prisons  only  further  contribute  to  this  massive  
affront  to  human  dignity.  My  own  father  is  a  convicted  felon.  My  own  University  stands  
against  his  and  millions  of  other  peoples'  humanity.”  
❖ Marcus  Hunter,  Student,  “Divestment  is  both  necessary  and  urgent  in  order  to  redress  
Columbia's  long-­standing  involvement  in  state-­sanctioned  and  privatized  colonial,  racist  
practices.  My  stake  in  divestment  is  tied  with  all  of  those  who  value  life  over  profit,  who  have  
experienced  racism,  colonialism,  and  institutionalized  violence  either  here  or  abroad,  and  who  
hold  the  University  responsible  for  promoting  the  values  inherent  in  the  idea  of  a  free  education  
free  from  discrimination  and  violence  for  all;;  those  who  will  not  earn  their  degrees  on  the  backs  
of  black  and  brown  people  globally  from  whom  columbia  steals  capital  and  profit  to  continue  
its  legacy  of  white  supremacy  and  capitalist  imperialist  domination.”  
❖ Liam  Bland,  Student,  "Private  prisons  are  an  unconscionable  investment,  contributing  to  many  
of  the  problems  within  our  broken  criminal  justice  system.  These  corporations  lobby  for  harsh  
sentencing  laws  and  the  continuation  of  a  war  on  drugs  that  has  ravaged  a  generation  of  young  
black  and  brown  men  and  women.  The  prison  industrial  complex  should  not  be  fed  and  
sustained  by  the  investments  of  higher  education  institutions,  and  our  community  should  not  
benefit  from  a  racist  system  of  control.  In  many  ways,  private  prisons  are  worse  than  public  
prisons,  with  higher  rates  of  abuse  and  complaints  from  offenders.  They  have  an  incentive  to  
imprison  people  unjustly,  and  they  have  taken  actions  to  increase  profit  margins  by  
undermining  a  purported  right  to  equality  before  the  law  through  lobbying  and  campaign  
financing.  There  are  many  reasons  to  suspect  that  capitalist  societies  should  not  allow  
corporations  to  benefit  from  imprisoning  human  beings.  We  can  anticipate  the  kinds  of  
incentives  such  a  system  would  create,  and  we  have  seen  that  those  incentives  do  in  fact  exist,  
that  private  prisons  understand  them,  and  that  they  act  accordingly.  It's  political  economy  101.  
My  personal  stake  in  this  is  the  benefit  I  receive  from  attending  an  institution  that  makes  a  great  
deal  of  money,  which  is  reinvested  in  my  education  and  my  quality  of  life  as  a  student  at  
Columbia.  This  is  not  the  only  way  I  benefit  from  the  prison  industrial  complex,  nor  is  it  the  

 
 
Community  Statements  of  Support  for  Prison  Divestment  



only  way  I  benefit  from  private  prisons  specifically.  But  this  is  one  way  that  we  as  a  
community  can  resist  those  benefits  and  refuse  to  support  injustice  when  we  see  it.  "  
Omoyeni  Clement,  Student,  “For  Columbia  to  be  invested  in  private  prisons  is  antithetical  to  its  
mission  and  the  claims  the  institution  makes  about  concern  for  the  welfare  of  its  students  and  
our  communities.  Divesting  from  private  prisons  would  mean  freeing  Columbia  from  a  
hypocrisy.”  
Student,  “Because  slave  labor  should  have  ended  a  long  ass  time  ago.”  
Student,  "Columbia  University's  toxic  investments  in  companies  that  capitalize  on  the  caging  
and  suffering  of  people  is  a  clear  statement  to  the  students  and  global  community  that  
Columbia  is  a  hypocritical  institution.  Columbia  carries  itself  as  a  premier  research  university  
that  values  diversity  in  its  students  which,  among  other  ways,  it  expresses  through  generous  
financial  aid.  But  if  Columbia  spends  money  on  helping  unprivileged  students  get  an  education,  
how  can  it  invest  its  money  in  keeping  unprivileged  people  out  of  work  and  in  cages?  Columbia  
was  one  of  the  last  universities  to  divest  apartheid.  Now,  we  ask  that  Columbia  review  the  
entirety  of  its  investments  and  send  a  message  to  the  world  that  Columbia  does  not  stand  for  
private  prisons  and  will  lead  the  way  in  responsible  investing.”  
Tenaya  Izu,  Alumni,  “it's  deeply  shameful  and  devalues  columbia's  education.”  
Rheem  Brooks,  Other,  “CCA  is  currently  under  federal  investigation  for  human  rights  abuses,  
has  been  cited  in  the  past  for  the  same,  and  has  been  cited  for  not  carrying  out  the  mandates  of  
the  former  citation.  The  private  prison  industry  is  morally  reprehensible,  where  profits  are  more  
important  than  human  lives.  Any  institution  in  support  of  such  a  corporation  has  a  
responsibility  to  those  upon  whom  it  exacts  violence.  Columbia  must  divest.”  
Chioma  Ngwudo,  Student,  “Divestment  is  necessary  because  support  of  the  private  prison  
system  is  a  support  of  the  the  school  to  prison  pipeline  that  victimizes  millions  of  people  of  
color  and  poor  people  in  America.  I  do  not  want  to  be  complicit  in  an  institution  that  shows  its  
approval  of  this  heinous  industry  by  investing  in  it.”  
Katie  Zheng,  Student,  “Columbia's  $10  million  investment  directly  affects  the  lives  of  APIA  
people  all  over  the  United  States  in  a  myriad  of  ways,  including  the  incarceration  and  
mistreatment  of  women  who  were  victims  of  sex  trafficking,  undocumented  immigrants,  and  
low  income  Southeast/South  Asian  people  whose  bodies  are  criminalized  in  different  ways  in  
different  contexts.  Divestment  is  necessary  because  private  prisons  are  a  crime  against  
humanity.”  
Timothy  Lundy,  Student,  “Private  prisons  are  morally  reprehensible  and  Columbia's  failure  to  
divest  from  them  would  demonstrate  that  the  university  is  willing  to  disregard  the  best  interests  
of  students,  faculty,  staff,  and  the  broader  community.”  
Student,  “Columbia's  $10  million  investment  into  the  private  prison  industry  means  my  own  
inadvertent  support  of  a  cycle  of  mass  incarceration  and  institutional  racism.  Divestment  needs  
to  stop  today  because  this  vicious  cycle  of  poverty,  crime  and  drug  abuse,  and  subsequent  
incarceration  will  continue  to  perpetuate  itself  unless  we  remove  the  fuel  to  its  flames:  
misdirected  funds.  It  is  unfathomable  to  me  why  an  institution  that  emphasizes  the  development  
of  informed  and  educated  citizens  to  improve  upon  society  (and  one  that  has  $9.2  billion  
endowment)  chooses  to  profit  off  a  complex  that  cripples  the  already  under-­resourced.  Rather,  

 
 
Community  Statements  of  Support  for  Prison  Divestment  


it  should  invest  its  resources  in  something  more  productive  (eg.  better  school  systems)  that  can  
seek  to  if  not  improve  upon,  at  least  halt  this  cycle  of  injustice.”  
Lillian  Belo,  Alumni,  “I  received  my  Master's  degree  from  Columbia.  I  work  with  women  
serving  a  life  without  parole  sentence  in  state  prisons.  I  hear  their  stories  everyday,  I  visit  with  
them,  I  know  their  families,  their  children  and  their  loved  ones.  I  am  very  upset  that  Columbia  
University  has  ANY  investment  in  the  prison  industrial  complex  that  is  destroying  communities  
and  lives  across  the  country.  Please  divest  and  take  the  shame  out  of  our  school.”  
Layla  Tavangar,  Student,  "A  University  dedicated  to  knowledge  and  progress  should  not  profit  
from  human  suffering  on  a  massive  scale"  
Cesar  San  Miguel,  Student,  “In  this  country,  more  money  is  spent  on  prisons  than  on  schools.  
Education  appears  to  be  a  less  worthy  cause  than  imprisoning  people...  Maybe  because  the  
latter  makes  money  more  quickly.    Investing  in  the  private  prison  system  means  that  we  are  
supporting,  and  profiting,  from  the  imprisonment  of  hundreds  of  thousands  of  people.    Added  
to  that,  there  is  a  disproportionate  amount  of  inmates  who  are  people  of  color,  imprisoned  for  
minor  offenses.    Why  is  it  more  important  to  imprison  the  black  or  brown  kid  who  is  carrying  a  
bit  of  weed  than  it  is  to  pay  for  better  education?    Invest  in  education.  It's  a  long  term  
investment,  because  the  payoffs  won't  be  immediate  as  it  is  with  private  prisons.    But  it's  the  
right  thing  to  do.    We  claim  to  be  an  institution  of  higher  learning,  and  we  students  were  told  
that  Columbia  is  a  primary  mover  in  the  fight  against  injustice.    Imagine  our  surprise,  outrage,  
and  disappointment  when  we  learned  that  the  coffers  of  this  institution  are  filled  via  
investments  in  private  prisons,  and  fossil  fuels.    If  our  goal  is  to  make  the  most  money  possible,  
here  and  now  and  to  hell  with  the  consequences  for  the  future,  then  fine.    But  if  the  goal  is  to  
invest  in  a  better  world,  put  your  money  where  your  mouth  is.”  
Josue  Lopez,  Student,  "I  support  prison  divestment  because  I  have  seen  and  felt  the  damaging  
effects  of  violent  criminalization  and  mass  incarceration,  both  in  my  own  life  and  that  of  many  
my  peers.  I  am  appalled  to  know  that  Columbia  University  is  fueling,  and  being  fueled  by,  this  
violent  system  through  its  investments  in  G4S  and  CCA.  When  I  heard  about  this  investment  I  
lost  a  great  deal  of  respect  and  pride  for  this  university.  I  can  no  longer  marvel  at  the  great  
attributes  of  this  school  without  thinking  of  miserable  human  beings  locked  in  cages.  The  
immaculately  manicured  landscaping  of  the  campus,  the  extensive  course  directory,  miles  of  
full  library  shelves,  lavish  lunches,  champagne  receptions,  marble  bathroom  stalls  etc.  all  bring  
a  sharp  pain  of  shame  now.  I  realize  that  Columbia  University  is  an  expensive  enterprise  to  run,  
but  I  also  know  that  whatever  amount  of  financial  stability  is  gained  from  this  investment  
cannot  justify  our  actively  supporting  systems  violence  and  the  destruction  of  families  and  
communities  which  these  systems  entail.  In  my  experiences  as  a  student  here  at  Columbia,  I  
have  repeatedly  encountered  values  and  aspirations  of  social  justice  and  respect  for  the  worth  of  
all  persons  whether  in  the  classroom,  readings,  discussions  or  events.  There  has  also  been  the  
constant  mantra  that  institutions  who  have  the  power  to  affect  others  in  their  actions  should  
always  think  critically  and  creatively  about  how  they  operate.  It  is  of  the  utmost  importance  
that  Columbia  divest  from  G4S  and  CCA,  both  because  a  continued  compliance  is  
contradictory  to  our  proclaimed  values,  and  because  we  have  a  responsibility  to  take  a  stand  
against  the  violence  this  institution  commits.  It  is  especially  important  that  we  take  this  action  

 
 
Community  Statements  of  Support  for  Prison  Divestment  


because  the  primary  victims  of  this  systems  are  marginalized,  literally  locked  away,  and  
stripped  of  their  agency  and  personhood  in  a  multitude  of  ways."  
Mary  Joseph,  Student,  “People  that  look  like  me  are  the  ones  who  are  most  negatively  affected  
by  the  private  prison  industry  (i.e.  Black  people)  and  I  do  not  want  any  part  of  this  school's  
money  to  play  a  role  in  advancing  this  racist,  classist  system.”  
Kaneisha  Payton,  Student,  “Columbia,  my  community,  can't  support  me  while  supporting  a  
system  that  stands  to  profit  from  the  targeting  of  black  people.”  
Student,  “Columbia  cannot  ethically  claim  its  position  of  power  as  an  institution  of  higher  
education  and  still  benefit  from  corporations  who  drive  the  prison  industrial  complex  in  order  
to  increase  profit  margins.  I'm  outraged  that  Columbia  continues  to  reap  the  benefits  of  
half-­hearted  diversity  initiatives  and  brochures  while  still  supporting  a  prison  industrial  
complex  that  is  designed  to  incarcerate  black  and  brown  bodies.”  
Katie  Cacouris,  Student,  “As  a  tuition  paying  student,  Columbia's  investments  in  the  private  
prison  industry  makes  me  complicit  in  an  enterprise  that  cuts  costs  at  the  expense  of  people's  
livelihoods.  As  a  globally  respected  intellectual  institution,  Columbia  should  be  a  leader  in  
socially  responsible  investing  and  divest  from  the  private  prison  industry  as  soon  as  possible.”  
Ayah  Zaki,  Student,  “I  believe  that  the  private  prison  industry  is  a  racist  institution  that  works  
to  profit  off  the  backs  of  black  and  brown  communities/bodies.  The  fact  that  Columbia  is  
invested  in  an  industry  that  exploits  my  community  makes  me  disappointed  to  be  a  student  in  
this  university.  I  think  divestment  is  necessarily  urgent  because  we  cannot  allow  ourselves  to  
perpetuate  the  systematic  racism  that  this  industry  stands  for  especially  as  an  institution  that  
praises  itself  as  a  so  called  diverse  institution.  We  cannot  praise  ourselves  for  diversifying  
Columbia's  image  while  simultaneously  perpetuating  a  system  that  is  involved  in  marginalizing  
these  same  communities  from  being  able  to  access  schooling  and  decent  jobs,  to  be  able  to  live  
without  being  disproportionately  targeted.  We  have  stood  on  the  wrong  side  of  history  during  
South  African  apartheid  when  we  were  one  of  the  last  institutions  to  divest,  I  am  disgusted  that  
we  still  have  to  learn  our  lesson.”  
Student,  “I  am  a  product  of  Puerto  Rican  and  Dominican  immigrants,  I  am  a  United  States  
citizen,  I  am  a  woman  of  color.    While  I  learn  the  Western  canons  of  greatness  and  moral  truths  
of  white  history  in  the  classrooms  of  Columbia  University,  I  also  choose  to  learn  my  own  
history,  culture,  language  and  truths.    Paradoxically,  the  institution  allowing  me  to  major  in  
Human  Rights  and  Studies  of  Race  and  Ethnicity  continues  to  invest  in  the  private  prison  
industry  that  incarcerates,  manipulates  and  preys  on  my  best  friends  from  my  hometown,  on  my  
cousins  living  in  Brooklyn,  NY.  I  watch  young  men,  most  often  black  men,  running  through  the  
perpetual  cycles  of  prison,  probation,  fines,  community  service,  and  police  injustices  month  
after  month,  year  after  year.    Columbia  must  divest,  Columbia  must  not  only  preach  about  
learning/changing  the  uncovered  practices  infiltrating  black  and  brown  narratives  but  also  
practice  that  recognition  and  change.    It  begins  with  prison  divestment;;  it  begins  with  
Columbia;;  it  begins  in  New  York.”  
Wang  Chun  Rosenkranz,  Student,  “Please  make  the  right  decision  and  divest  from  the  
commodification  of  human  beings.  I  do  not  want  my  tuition  to  contribute  to  an  unjust  and  racist  
system  of  oppression.  Help  Columbia  be  a  leader  in  the  field  of  education  and  an  institution  I  
can  be  proud  to  call  home.”  

 
 
Community  Statements  of  Support  for  Prison  Divestment  
❖ Student,  "I  don't  want  this  kind  of  violence  inflicted  on  millions  of  people  incarcerated  in  
private  prisons  and  detention  centers  in  my  name.  Divestment  is  necessary  because  if  Columbia  
really  wants  to  consider  itself  part  of  the  global  community,  and  part  of  the  local  community  
here  in  Harlem,  it  can't  just  give  lip  service  to  helping  communities  and  marginalized  people  
and  then  directly  profit  off  of  locking  them  away.  Columbia  needs  to  take  a  stand  and  do  the  
right  thing.  "  
❖ Staff,  “As  a  staff  person  at  the  University,  Columbia's  investment  in  private  prisons  puts  my  
values  and  beliefs  at  odds  with  my  employer  on  a  daily  basis.    My  values  and  beliefs  in  the  the  
worth  of  all  human  life,  human  dignity  and  equitable  justice  does  not  allow  me  to  support  
profiteering  off  of  human  suffering,  made  even  more  stark  and  urgent  in  that  our  criminal  
justice  system,    private  prisons  being  one  extension,  disproportionately  impacts  poor  
communities  and  black  communities.    There  are  plenty  of  other  ways  to  invest  the  university's  
money  and  the  University's  continued  investment  and  profiteering  off  of  human  suffering  is  not  
only  in  contrast  with  my  values,  but  also  the  values  of  the  University  itself.”  
❖ Chase  Morgan,  Student,  “Columbia,  as    an  academic  institution,  has  no  business  investing  in  
prisons.  Incarceration  is  the  opposite  of  education.  Education  is  supremely  humanizing,  
teaching  you  to  identify  with  and  understand  your  fellow  man.  Incarceration  is  dehumanizing.  
It  teaches  people  that  they  aren't  worthy  of  humanity  and  therefore  does  nothing  more  than  
breed  more  criminal  activity.  I  expect  better  of  a  great  institution  such  as  this  one.”  
❖ A  Coughlin,  Student,  “I  find  the  private  prison  industry  to  be  unethical,  as  its  profit  motive  is  
inextricably  linked  to  the  incarceration  and  indictment  of  people,  and  I  don't  think  such  
phenomena  should  be  tied  to  financial  gain,  both  in  terms  of  promoting  justice  and  from  a  
perspective  of  the  ethical  issues  that  come  with  imprisoning  a  human  being.  It's  embarrassing  to  
me  that  my  institution  is  invested  in  this  unethical  and  questionable  system,  which  is  further  
tied  into  systems  of  systematic  racism  and  oppression.”  
❖ Kelsey  Repka,  Student,  “Mass  incarceration  in  the  US  affects  everybody.    The  odds  are  that  1  
in  9  men  will  face  incarceration  in  their  lifetime,  1  in  3  of  African  American  men,  couple  this  
with  the  fact  that  40  percent  of  all  children  live  in  low  income  families,  and  it  is  obvious  how  
mass  incarceration  affects  us  all,  with  significant  consequences  for  intergenerational  outcomes.  
The  private  prison  industrial  complex  is  fully  invested  in  increasing  these  rates  so  they  can  
build  more  prisons,  hire  more  guards,  and  increase  their  profits.    It  is  unimaginable  that  an  
institution  of  higher  learning  invests,  and  makes  money  from  this  form  of  modern  slavery.  
What  if  the  more  than  2  million  people  currently  incarcerated  were  treated  as  potential  
Columbia  students,  instead  of  the  number  on  their  uniform?  By  encouraging  this  system,  and  
using  money  to  further  propagate  the  opportunity  gap  (who  even  has  access  to  a  Columbia  
degree?),  we  as  a  community  are  telling  a  growing  portion  of  this  country  that  they  don't  
matter,  or  even  worse,  that  they  don't  exist  in  higher  ed.”  
❖ Alvaro  Ortiz,  Student,  “Divestment  from  the  private  prison  and  security  industry  represents  the  
idea  that  the  school  does  not  recognize  these  activities  as  legitimate.  I  see  Columbia's  
investment  affecting  me  and  those  around  me  negatively  through  the  reinforcing  of  racist  ideas  
such  as  those  which  see  prisons  as  legitimate.  It  also  brings  into  question  Columbia's  
relationship  with  the  NYPD.  It  is  well  known  that  private  prison  industries  are  often  cohorts  
with  local  sheriff  and  police  departments  around  the  country.  For  this  reason  I  don't  think  it  is  

 
 
Community  Statements  of  Support  for  Prison  Divestment  


too  far  off  the  mark  to  surmise  that  Columbia  profits  from  massive  arrests  in  Harlem  and  
surrounding  areas.”  
Student,  “Students  at  Columbia,  especially  GS  students,  have  lived  through  the  prison  
industrial  complex,  including  myself,  and  become  important  members  of  their  community  NOT  
because  they  were  'rehabilitated'  by  the  prison,  but  because  their  experiences  gave  them  tools  to  
fight  injustice.  I  hope  that  the  school  can  achieve  consistency  in  the  message  it  sends  by  
matriculating  such  students  as  a  part  of  the  school's  mission  to  fight  inequity  and  injustice.  
Columbia  contradicts  itself  by  investing  in  private  prisons  in  the  US,  and  abroad  especially  in  
Palestine  via  the  G4S  corporation,  and  the  divestment  from  private  prisons  works  toward  
righting  this  contradiction.”  
Student,  “If  Columbia  truly  values  the  humanity  of  every  person  they  cannot  support  a  system  
that  dehumanizes  and  fatally  harms  communities  of  color”  
Student,  “I  do  not  feel  comfortable  with  how  my  tuition  dollars  are  being  used  by  Columbia.  
The  private  prison  industry  is  oppressive  and  damaging  to  many  populations,  who  also  struggle  
to  have  their  voices  heard  at  this  university.  Students  have  said  time  and  again  we  do  not  
support  investment  in  private  prisons:  it  goes  against  what  we  stand  for  to  prop  up  companies  
like  CCA,  which  increases  its  profit  by  locking  up  more  bodies.  We  should  stand  for  education  
and  equal  opportunity  for  all,  instead  we're  helping  ensure  that  some  people  lose  their  
opportunity  to  live  freely.”  
Ogo  Nwodoh,  Student,  “I  don't  think  Columbia  should  support  a  system  that  is  focused  on  
punishment  instead  of  reform.  I  also  believe  Columbia  should  not  support  a  system  that  targets  
certain  minority  communities.  There  are  other  better  ways  for  the  University  to  get  money.”  
Niklas  Plaetzer,  Student,  “Knowing  what  kind  of  suffering  –  human  rights  abuses,  really  –  
mass  incarceration  produces  for  its  victims,  it  fills  me  with  a  deep  sense  of  shame  and  
indignation  that  Columbia  University  makes  us  all  complicit  in  such  a  systemic  inhumanity.  
One  would  think  that  an  institution  allegedly  committed  to  humanistic  values  would  find  it  
repulsive  to  directly  make  profits  off  of  the  incarceration  of  human  beings  –  but  far  from  that.  
The  half-­serious  way  in  which  the  administration  has  responded  to  the  more  than  legitimate  
critique  of  large  parts  of  the  student  body  just  confirms  Columbia's  disregard  for  the  systemic  
marginalization  of  people  of  color  in  the  United  States:  from  its  ongoing  investment  in  the  
prison  industry  to  the  disastrous  effects  that  Columbia-­induced  gentrification  has  had  on  
(predominantly  Black)  working  families  in  surrounding  neighborhoods.  If  Columbia  actually  
wants  to  represent  a  sense  of  community  and  value  commitment  rather  than  privilege  and  
marginalization,  it  must  divest  immediately  and  not  send  its  student  activists  from  one  useless  
meeting  to  another.  The  halfhearted  response  the  Divestment  Movement  has  received  from  
Columbia's  various  bureaucratic  committees  just  adds  insult  to  injury!”  
Student,  “My  stake  in  prison  divestment  is  the  consideration  that  a  university's  economic  
decisions  speak  loudly  about  their  economic  and  social  priorities.  An  investment  in  the  private  
prison  industry  regardless  of  the  size  is  an  investment  in  a  system  that  continues  to  devalue  the  
lives  of  primarily  men  of  color,  black  men,  and  members  of  the  LGBTQA  community.  
Individuals  who  in  some  way  or  another  exist  on  Columbia's  campus.  The  decision  by  an  
academic  institution  to  invest  in  a  system  that  is  fueled  and  sustained  by  a  flawed  justice  system  
calls  into  question  the  goals  and  views  of  the  university  and  its  role  in  education.  If  education  is  

 
 
Community  Statements  of  Support  for  Prison  Divestment  


 

meant  to  free...  meant  to  equalize...  meant  to  erase  borders  why  is  our  school  doing  the  exact  
opposite  by  funding  an  industry  and  a  system  that  perpetuates  those  borders  and  thus  a  
continuation  of  social  inequality?  Divestment  is  necessary  in  that  it  is  an  educational  
institution's  duty  and  purpose  to  value  education  as  an  indication  of  the  value  of  human  life  as  a  
vehicle  for  change  and  nuance  and  impact.”    
Student,  “BC  MY  COMMUNITY  IS  BEING  HEAVILY  POLICED  BACK  HOME  AND  MY  
COMMUNITY  MEMBERS  ARE  BEING  LOCKED  UP  FOR  NO  REASON.  MY  SCHOOL  
SHOULDN'T  MAKE  MONEY  OFF  OF  THEIR  INCARCERATED  BODIES…”  
Cinneah  El-­Amin,  Student,  “Columbia  participates  in  the  mass  incarceration  and  inhumane  
holding  practices  most  commonly  performed  on  individuals  who  LOOK  LIKE  ME.  I'd  say  
those  are  pretty  high  stakes.  I  unwaveringly  support  Columbia's  private  prison  divestment.”    
Other,  “I  have  a  child  that  is  caught  up  in  a  system  that  does  not  hold  law  enforcement  
accountable  in  any  way  for  the  legitimacy  of  the  charges  that  are  heaved  upon  American  
citizens  on  a  daily  basis.  The  driving  force  behind  many  of  these  arrests  is  money.  Americans  
are  being  farmed  out  to  these  facilities  as  legal  slave  labor.”  
Henry  Matarozzi,  Other  “Divestment  is  necessary  to  end  modern  day  slavery”  
Langston  Sanchez,  Other,  “As  a  community  member  of  Harlem  there  is  a  direct  connection  
between  the  money  Columbia  has  invested  in  the  private  prison  system  and  the  policing  of  
Black  and  Brown  people  in  the  neighborhood  and  surrounding  neighborhoods  face  and  the  
gentrification  or  forced  removal  of  the  same  Black  and  Brown  people  in  those  neighborhoods.”  
Adrian  Febre,  Student,  “I  think  the  prison  system  unfairly  targets  people  of  color,  sucking  them  
into  prisons  in  which  they're  more  or  less  slaves,  and  I  don't  see  any  reason  Columbia  can't  
reinvest  its  money  without  a  significant  effect  on  its  bottom  line”  
Chinyere  Okunji,  Alumni,  “Mass  incarceration  has  been  pivotal  in  increasing  the  economic  and  
educational  disparity  between  black  and  white  families  and  the  cycle  of  poverty  and  
imprisonment  which  disrupts  black  families.  The  CU  prison  divest  justice  movement  seeks  to  
rectify  these  egregious  acts  of  violence  on  the  black  community  by  asking  institutions  of  
education  to  be  accountable  for  their  role  in  propagating  this  system  of  oppression.  As  a  social  
activist  and  community  organizer,  it  is  important  to  challenge  institutions,especially  those  
which  are  complicit  in  upholding  power  structures  which  criminalize  people  of  color.  It  affects  
my  understanding  of  justice  because  I  am  NOT  a  proud  Columbia  alumnus  knowing  they  have  
a  $10  million  investment  in  the  prison  industry.  I  demand  their  divestment  and  fully  support  
this  endeavor.”  

31#January#2015#
#
To#Whom#It#May#Concern:#
I#write#to#express#my#unflagging#skepticism#over#the#value#and#efficacy#of#shareholder#activism#in#the#
case#of#forDprofit#prison#reform.#As#a#nationallyDrecognized#carceral#policy#expert#who#has#been#
examining#the#forDprofit#prison#landscape#for#over#a#decade,#I#strongly#advise#you#to#avoid#negotiating#
with#Corrections#Corporation#of#America#(CCA)#or#G4S#through#the#modality#of#shareholder#activism.#
Time#and#again#this#tactic#has#failed#to#produce#deep#and#meaningful#reform.#
I#pass#along#a#recent#anecdote#of#shareholder#activism#undertaken#by#my#esteemed#colleague,#Mr.#Alex#
Friedmann,#Associate#Editor#of#Prison'Legal'News.#Years#ago#Mr.#Friedmann#decided#to#purchase#shares#
of#CCA#for#the#express#purpose#of#attempting#to#reform#the#company#from#within.#On#at'least#three#
separate#occasions#Mr.#Friedmann#has#encouraged#CCA#visDàDvis#resolution#to#improve#prisoner#safety,#
curb#rape#and#sexual#abuse,#and#to#enhance#rehabilitative#services.#CCA#has#rejected#all#of#Mr.#
Friedmann’s#proposed#interventions.##
In#lateD2014#Mr.#Friedmann#introduced#a#shareholder#resolution#that#would#require#CCA#to#spend#just#
5%#of#its#net#income#“on#programs#and#services#designed#to#reduce#recidivism#rates#for#offenders.”#
Weeks#later,#on#9#January#2015,#CCA#filed#a#formal#objection#with#the#Securities#and#Exchange#
Commission#(SEC)#seeking#to#keep#Mr.#Friedmann’s#resolution#out#of#the#proxy#materials#it#sends#to#
shareholders#and#various#institutional#investors.#The#company#has#vociferously#objected#Friedmann’s#
resolution.#
I#offer#this#brief#story#to#demonstrate#the#fecklessness#of#attempting#to#negotiate#with#CCA#(and#
companies#like#CCA)#from#within.#
I#urge#Columbia#University#to#divest#from#CCA#and#G4S#at#the#earliest#possible#date#and#express#deep#
skepticism#about#the#possibility#of#meaningful#and#durable#shareholder#activism.#
Should#this#letter#generate#questions#of#any#sort,#please#do#not#hesitate#to#contact#me#at#
cpetrella@berkeley.edu.##
Warmly,#
Christopher#Petrella#
Researcher,#U.C.#Berkeley#
#

List  of  Schools  with  Prison  Divestment  Campaigns  
 
Cornell  University  
Brown  University  
CUNY  
University  of  Central  Florida  (campaign  currently  inactive)  
University  of  Minnesota  
UC  Berkeley  
UC  Irvine  
UCLA  
UC  Santa  Barbara  
UC  Davis  
MIT  (beginning  this  semester)  
Middlebury  (beginning  this  semester)  
The  New  School  
Brandeis  (beginning  this  semester)  
 

BANKING ON BONDAGE
Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration

NOVEMBER 2011

BANKING ON BONDAGE
Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION
125 Broad Street, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10004
www.aclu.org
Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself

BANKING ON BONDAGE:
Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration
November 2, 2011

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION
125 Broad Street, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10004
www.aclu.org

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This report has been a project of the ACLU National Prison Project and Center for Justice and was authored
by David Shapiro (Staff Attorney, National Prison Project). First and foremost, the author would like to
thank Mike Tartaglia (Paralegal, National Prison Project) for his many contributions to the report, and David
Fathi (Director, National Prison Project) and Vanita Gupta (ACLU Deputy Legal Director) for their support of
the project. Numerous individuals generously reviewed drafts or otherwise contributed their wisdom and
insight, including Anjali Abraham, Rachel Bloom, Mike Brickner, Inimai Chettiar, Scott Crichton, Shakyra
Diaz, Terence Dougherty, Marjorie Esman, Alex Friedmann, Jennifer Giuttari, Lisa Graybill, Judy Greene,
Rachel Jordan, Bob Libal, Victoria Lopez, Will Matthews, Rachel Myers, Nila Natarajan, Stephen Pevar,
Daniel Pochoda, Judy Rabinovitz, Chris Rickerd, Tom Stenson, Willa Tracosas, Jennifer Wedekind, Margaret
Winter, and Paul Wright.

Cover Image: Steve McAlister/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images

TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ..........................................................................................5
PART I: THE PRIVATE PRISON EXPLOSION ............................................................9
Early Experiments in For-Profit Imprisonment ..................................................................... 10
The Exponential Growth of Private Prisons............................................................................ 10
Enormous Profits for the Private Prison Industry.................................................................. 13
Private Prisons, Mass Incarceration, and the American
Legislative Exchange Council ................................................................................................. 14
Immigration Detention and Private Prison Expansion ........................................................... 16

PART II: THE FALSE PROMISE OF PRIVATE PRISONS ............................................18
Supposed Cost Savings........................................................................................................... 19
Scant Economic Benefit for Local Communities.................................................................... 20
Limited Incentives to Curb Recidivism and Prison Violence ................................................. 23

PART III: THE PRIVATE PRISON PITCH ..................................................................32
Questionable Financial Incentives .......................................................................................... 32
The Revolving Door Between Public and Private Corrections ............................................... 36
The Private Prison Lobby........................................................................................................ 38
Campaign Contributions ......................................................................................................... 39
Control of Information ............................................................................................................ 40

CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................42
ENDNOTES ............................................................................................................43

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The imprisonment of human beings at record levels is both a moral failure and an economic
one—especially at a time when more and more Americans are struggling to make ends meet
and when state governments confront enormous fiscal crises. This report finds, however, that
mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for one special interest group—the private
prison industry—even as current incarceration levels harm the country as a whole. While
the nation’s unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom, wrests
loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and
taxpayers, the private prison industry reaps lucrative rewards. As the public good suffers from
mass incarceration, private prison companies obtain more and more government dollars, and
private prison executives at the leading companies rake in enormous compensation packages,
in some cases totaling millions of dollars.

The Spoils of Mass Incarceration
The United States imprisons more people—both per capita and in absolute terms—than any other
nation in the world, including Russia, China, and Iran.1 Over the past four decades, imprisonment in
the United States has increased explosively, spurred by criminal laws that impose steep sentences
and curtail the opportunity to earn probation and parole.2 The current incarceration rate deprives
record numbers of individuals of their liberty, disproportionately affects people of color, and has
at best a minimal effect on public safety.3 Meanwhile, the crippling cost of imprisoning increasing
numbers of Americans saddles government budgets with rising debt and exacerbates the current
fiscal crises confronting states across the nation.4
Leading private prison companies essentially admit that their business model depends on high
rates of incarceration. For example, in a 2010 Annual Report filed with the Securities and Exchange
Commission, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company,
stated: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by . . . leniency in
conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices . . . .”5
As incarceration rates skyrocket, the private prison industry expands at exponential rates, holding
ever more people in its prisons and jails, and generating massive profits. Private prisons for
adults were virtually non-existent until the early 1980s, but the number of prisoners in private
prisons increased by approximately 1600% between 1990 and 2009.6 Today, for-profit companies
are responsible for approximately 6% of state prisoners, 16% of federal prisoners, and, according
to one report, nearly half of all immigrants detained by the federal government.7 In 2010, the two
largest private prison companies alone received nearly $3 billion dollars in revenue, and their top
executives, according to one source, each received annual compensation packages worth well
over $3 million.8

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 5

A Danger to State Finances
While supporters of privatization tout the idea that governments can save money through private
facilities, the evidence for supposed cost savings is mixed at best.9 As state governments across
the nation confront deep fiscal deficits, the assertion that private prisons demonstrably reduce
the costs of incarceration can be dangerous and irresponsible. Such claims may lure states into
building private prisons or privatizing existing ones rather than reducing incarceration rates and
limiting corrections spending through serious criminal justice reform.
This year, advocates of for-profit prisons trotted out privatization schemes as a supposed answer
to budgetary woes in numerous states:
Arizona has announced plans to award 5,000 additional prison beds to private
contractors,10 despite a recent statement by the Arizona Auditor General that forprofit imprisonment in Arizona may cost more than incarceration in publicly-operated
facilities.11 Arizona’s Department of Corrections is the only large agency in that state
not subject to a budget cut in fiscal year 2012—in fact, the Department’s budget
increased by $10 million.12 According to a news report, private prison employees and
corporate officers contributed money to Governor Jan Brewer’s reelection campaign,
and high ranking Brewer Administration officials previously worked as private prison
lobbyists.13
Florida has responded to exploding incarceration costs largely through increasing
reliance on private prisons.14 Although the assertion that private prisons save taxpayer
money is highly questionable, supporters of privatization, according to a recent news
report, claim that privatization in Florida is necessary to rein in the prison system’s
budget, which stood at $2.3 billion in 2010.15 A recent editorial in the Orlando Sentinel
expressed the view that privatization “has eclipsed and shelved potentially more
fruitful, cost-effective changes. One of them is sentencing reform.”16 On September
30, 2011, a Florida court enjoined the Department of Corrections from implementing
the privatization of prisons in 18 counties, finding that the planned privatization failed
to comply with procedures mandated by state law.17 The court stated, “[t]he decision to
issue only one [request for proposal] and only one contract for all 29 prison facilities
[subject to proposed privatization] was based on convenience and speed, … rather than
on any demonstrated savings or benefit advantage.”18
Ohio recently announced that it will become, on December 31, 2011, the first state in
the nation to sell a publicly operated prison, Lake Erie Correctional Facility, to a private
company, CCA.19 Notably, the head of Ohio’s corrections department had served as a
managing director of CCA.20 The claim that prison privatization demonstrably reduces
costs and trims government budgets may detract from the critical work of reducing
the state’s prison population.21

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 6

Louisiana narrowly defeated a proposal, pushed by Governor Bobby Jindal in a
desperate attempt to generate short-term revenue, to sell off three state prisons
to private companies.22 The Louisiana House Appropriations Committee blocked the
bill by a vote of 13-12, with legislators expressing deep concern about the wisdom of
selling off the state’s assets.23
The federal government is in the midst of a private prison expansion spree, driven
primarily by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency that locks up
roughly 400,000 immigrants each year and spends over $1.9 billion annually on custody
operations.24 ICE now intends to create a new network of massive immigration detention
centers, managed largely by private companies, in states including New Jersey, Texas,
Florida, California and Illinois.25 According to a news report, in August 2011, ICE’s
plans to send 1,250 immigration detainees to Essex County, New Jersey threatened to
unravel amid allegations that a private prison company seeking the contract, whose
executives enjoyed close ties to Governor Chris Christie, received “special treatment”
from the county.26 The fiscal crisis confronting the federal government, however, has
done nothing to dampen Washington’s spending binge on privatized immigration
detention.

Atrocious Conditions
While evidence is mixed, certain empirical studies show a heightened level of violence against
prisoners in private institutions. This may reflect in part the higher rate of staff turnover in private
prisons, which can result in inexperienced guards walking the tiers.27 After an infamous escape
from an Arizona private prison in 2010, for example, the Arizona Department of Corrections
reported that at the prison, “[s]taff are fairly ‘green’ across all shifts,” “are not proficient with
weapons,” and habitually ignore sounding alarms.28 Private facilities have also been linked to
atrocious conditions. In a juvenile facility in Texas, for example, auditors reported, “[c]ells were
filthy, smelled of feces and urine.”29
Just three weeks before the release of this report, prisoner fights in several locations throughout
a private prison in Oklahoma left 46 prisoners injured and required 16 inmates to be sent to the
hospital, some of them in critical condition.30 The risks to safety confronting inmates in private
prisons are especially relevant at present, as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that
could, depending on the outcome, prevent federal prisoners in private institutions from seeking
compensation for constitutional violations—including deliberate indifference to prisoners’
physical well being.31

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 7

Shrewd Tactics
Certain private prison companies employ shrewd tactics to obtain more and more government
contracts to incarcerate prisoners. In February 2011, for example, a jury convicted former
Luzerene County, Pennsylvania Judge Mark Ciavarella of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy,
and money laundering conspiracy in connection with payments received from a private prison
developer.32 Tactics employed by some private prison companies, or individuals associated with
the private prison industry, to gain influence or acquire more contracts or inmates include: use
of questionable financial incentives; benefitting from the “revolving door” between public and
private corrections; extensive lobbying; lavish campaign contributions; and efforts to control
information.33

****
Part One of this Report traces the rise of the for-profit prison industry over the past 30 years,
demonstrating that private prisons reaped lucrative spoils as incarceration rates reached historic
levels. Part Two focuses on the supposed benefits associated with private prisons, showing that
the view that private prison companies provide demonstrable economic benefits and humane
facilities is debatable at best. Part Three discusses the tactics private prison companies have
used to obtain control of more and more human beings and taxpayer dollars.
The time to halt the expansion of for-profit incarceration is now. The evidence that private prisons
provide savings compared to publicly operated facilities is highly questionable, and certain studies
point to worse conditions in for-profit facilities. The private prison industry helped to create the
mass incarceration crisis and feeds off of this social ill. Private prisons cannot be part of the
solution—economic or ethical—to the problem of mass incarceration.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 8

PART I:
THE PRIVATE PRISON EXPLOSION
Mass incarceration strains state budgets and deprives individuals of liberty in record numbers.
But the social ill of mass incarceration is a bonanza for the private prison industry, which has
extracted more and more taxpayer dollars from state budgets as governments dispatch prisoners
to private facilities in ever-increasing numbers.
This chapter chronicles the rapid ascent of the private prison industry over the past 30 years—a
development that went hand-in-hand with explosive growth in incarceration rates. Although
various forms of correctional privatization had existed in earlier centuries, for-profit incarceration
seemed destined for extinction—until, beginning in the 1980s, private prisons suddenly reemerged
and proliferated with breathtaking speed.
Today, private companies imprison roughly 130,000 prisoners34 and, according to one group,
16,000 civil immigration detainees in the United States at any given time.35 As states send more
and more people to prison, they funnel ever greater amounts of taxpayer money to private prison
operators. By 2010, annual revenues of the two top private prison companies alone stood at nearly
$3 billion.36

Terminology Used in This Report
The terms “private prison operator” and “private prison company” are used to describe companies
that own and/or operate for-profit facilities that incarcerate people—including facilities such as
prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers.
The term “private prison industry” is a somewhat broader category. In addition to private prison
operators and private prison companies, “the private prison industry” may also include other
companies or individuals that profit from private prisons, such as companies that provide
consulting services in connection with private prison construction.
A statement in this report that private prison companies, private prison operators, or the private
prison industry made a certain claim, engaged in a certain practice, or exhibited a certain feature
is not meant to imply that the same statement applies to all private prison companies or operators,
or that all members of the private prison industry did the same.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 9

Early Experiments in For-Profit Imprisonment
Early forms of prison privatization yielded horrific results. In eighteenth-century England, private
“keepers” ran prisons, making their living by extracting lodging fees from those they incarcerated
—and by operating coffee shops and beer taps for affluent prisoners.37 The rich may have lived
well even behind bars, but private jailers had little stake in the well-being of poor prisoners, who
were “gouged for fees, cheated on their provisions, loaded with irons, [and] exposed to disease.”38
Fortunately, a movement to improve prison order and establish public control began to gather
force in England in the late Eighteenth Century.39
In the years following the Civil War, the United States also experimented with a form of privatization.
The convict lease system—which has been called a “substitute for slavery”40—took hold in the
South. Under this system, state and local governments managed the prisons, but prisoners were
leased out to work for private companies or individuals.41 Like the private “keepers” in England,
these contractors had little incentive to treat prisoners humanely. According to Professor Michelle
Alexander, “Death rates were shockingly high, for the private contractors had no interest in the
health and well-being of their laborers, unlike the earlier slave-owners who needed their slaves,
at minimum, to be healthy enough to survive hard labor.”42
Toward the end of the Nineteenth Century, states began to outlaw convict leasing, and Congress
forbade the leasing of federal prisoners in 1887.43 By 1900, virtually all governments around the
world had assumed responsibility for management of their own prisons.44

The Exponential Growth of Private Prisons
At the beginning of the 1980s, private prisons for adults did not exist in the United States, but recent
years have witnessed a reemergence and dramatic expansion of this form of incarceration.45 The
private prison explosion went hand-in-hand with a massive increase in incarceration rates. Since
President Richard Nixon first announced the “war on drugs” forty years ago, the United States
has adopted “tough on crime” laws that have given it the dubious distinction of having the highest
incarceration rate in the world. These laws include:
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws: Such laws impose long sentences and prevent
judges from exercising discretion to impose more lenient punishments, where
appropriate, based on the circumstances of the crime and the defendant’s individual
characteristics.
Truth in sentencing laws: Such laws sharply curtail probation and parole eligibility,
requiring inmates to remain in prison long after they have been rehabilitated.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 10

Three strikes laws: Such laws subject defendants convicted of three crimes to extremely
long sentences. In one case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, a man charged with
stealing golf clubs received a sentence of 25 years to life under a three strikes law.46
Mass incarceration has further weakened depressed communities by depopulating them and
stripping even nonviolent former prisoners of opportunities to find employment and meaningfully
reenter society.47 And while public safety requires the incarceration of certain criminals, current
rates of incarceration are so anomalous that they provide little, if any, public safety benefit.48
Between 1970 and 2005, the number of people incarcerated in the United States grew by 700%.49
Today, the United States incarcerates approximately 2.3 million people.50 According to the
Congressional Research Service, the United States has only 5% of the world’s populatin but a full
25% of its prisoners.51

Source: http://www.aclu.org/combating-mass-incarceration-facts-0

Even compared to this breathtaking rate of overall growth in incarceration, the rate of expansion
of for-profit imprisonment far outpaced the field, accounting for a disproportionate increase in
the number of people locked up. In 1980, private adult prisons did not exist on American soil, but
by 1990 private prison companies had established a firm foothold, boasting 67 for-profit facilities
and an average daily population of roughly 7,000 prisoners.52 During the next twenty years (from
1990 to 2009) the number of people incarcerated in private prisons increased by more than 1600%,
growing from approximately 7,000 to approximately 129,000 inmates.53

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 11

Average number of prisoners in
private facilities in 1990:

NUMBER OF PRISONERS

7,771
Number of prisoners in
private facilities on December 31, 2009:

129,336
Percentage increase 1990-2009:
YEAR:

1990

2009

1664%

SOURCE for prisoner numbers: United States Department of Justice (Bureau of Justice Statistics)

Increasing incarceration rates fueled this massive expansion of private corrections. CCA—
the largest private prison company in the United States—admits that current sentencing laws
increase the company’s profits by swelling prison populations, whereas policies aimed at reducing
incarceration rates create financial risks for the corporation. Specifically, in a 2010 Annual Report
submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), CCA stated, under the heading
“Risks Related to Our Business and Industry”:
Our ability to secure new contracts to develop and manage correctional and detention
facilities depends on many factors outside our control. Our growth is generally dependent
upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage new correctional
and detention facilities. This possible growth depends on a number of factors we
cannot control, including crime rates and sentencing patterns in various jurisdictions
and acceptance of privatization. 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. Legislation has been proposed in
numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent
crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.
Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on
probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly,
reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce crime could
lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at
correctional facilities.54

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 12

The GEO Group, the second largest private prison operator, identified similar “Risks Related to
Our Business and Industry” in SEC filings:
Our growth depends on our ability to secure contracts to develop and manage
new correctional, detention and mental health facilities, the demand for which is
outside our control …. [A]ny changes with respect to the decriminalization of drugs
and controlled substances could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted,
sentenced and incarcerated, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional
facilities to house them. Similarly, reductions in crime rates could lead to reductions
in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.
Immigration reform laws which are currently a focus for legislators and politicians at
the federal, state and local level also could materially adversely impact us.55

Enormous Profits for the Private Prison Industry
The incarceration explosion over the past several decades produced very few winners. Mass
imprisonment broke state budgets, tore families and communities apart, and failed to promote
public safety in any significant way.56 But as mass incarceration led to disastrous effects for the
nation as a whole, one special interest group—the private prison industry—emerged as a clear
winner. A massive transfer of taxpayer dollars to the private prison industry accompanied the
unprecedented increase in incarceration and the rapid ascent of for-profit imprisonment.
In the early 1980s, private prisons barely existed in the United States, but that decade would witness
the founding of the two companies that dominate the industry today—Corrections Corporation of
America (CCA) and the GEO Group (then called Wackenhut Corrections Corporation).57 By 2010,
annual revenues for these two companies alone had grown to nearly $3 billion.58
Government contracts (state, local, and federal) provide the dominant source of private prison
revenue.59 Therefore, these astronomical revenue figures demonstrate that private prison
companies receive massive amounts of taxpayer dollars.60
The ability of private prison companies to capture taxpayer dollars results in handsome rewards
for their top executives. According to one source, in 2010, CCA’s President and CEO received more
than $3.2 million in executive compensation, and GEO’s Chairman and CEO received nearly $3.5
millon.61

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 13

Private Prisons, Mass Incarceration, and the American Legislative
Exchange Council
CCA, the leading private prison company, has long provided major support to, and had close ties
with, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—an organization of state legislators that
has advocated harsh sentencing and detention laws, such as mandatory minimum sentencing
statutes. ALEC provides state legislators with model legislation, and each year, ALEC members
introduce hundreds of these model bills in statehouses across the country.62
ALEC operates by hosting lavish retreats that bring together state legislators and corporate
executives.63 Almost 2,000 state legislators belong to the organization.64 According to National
Public Radio, at ALEC annual conferences, “companies get to sit around a table and write ‘model
bills’ with the state legislators, who then take them home to their states.”65 Legislators, it has
been reported, pay nominal fees to attend the meetings ($50 for an annual membership), while
the corporate participants pay thousands of dollars in membership dues.66 As one ALEC member

Top Private Prison Companies
1. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)
2010 Revenue:
$1,700,000,000
Prisoner Capacity:
90,037
Year Founded:
1983
Headquarters:
Nashville, Tennessee
Head:
Damon Hininger (President and CEO)
Executive Compensation: $3,266,387 compensation package for
Hininger in 2010 (according to Morningstar)
2. The GEO Group
2010 Revenue:
Prisoner Capacity:
Year Founded:

$1,269,968,000
81,000
1984 (founded as Wackenhut Corrections
Corporation)
Headquarters:
Boca Raton, Florida
Head:
George Zoley (Chairman, CEO, Founder)
Executive Compensation: $3,484,807 compensation package for Zoley in 2010
(according to Morningstar)

Sources: CCA: 2010 Annual Letter to Shareholders; A Quarter Century of Service to America; About CCA; Morningstar, Corrections Corporation
of America, Key Executive Compensation. GEO Group: 2010 Annual Report; 2010 Letter to Shareholders; Morningstar, The GEO Group, Inc., Key
Executive Compensation.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 14

allegedly stated in the late 1990s: “The organization is supported
by money from the corporate sector, and, by paying to be
members, corporations are allowed the opportunity to sit down
at the table and discuss the issues that they have an interest in.”67
After ALEC meetings, legislators return to their home states with
ALEC model legislation.68
ALEC has pushed legislation that benefits private prison companies
by promoting policies that result in mass incarceration.69 In the
1990s, ALEC championed—and, according to one report by an
advocacy group, succeeded in enacting in 27 states—“truth in
sentencing” and “three strikes” legislation.70 Such laws were
certain to increase prison populations (whether public or private)
and the amount of taxpayer money funneled into prisons.
In the 1990s, ALEC’s mass incarceration legislation met with
overwhelming success. In a 1996 article entitled Getting Tough
Works: Old Strategies Are the Weapons in the New War on Crime,
a former ALEC Task Force Director boasted, “[n]ow, truth in
sentencing laws, based on an ALEC model bill, require inmates
to serve 80 to 90 percent of their sentences before becoming
eligible for parole.”71

“The demand for our
facilities and services could
be adversely affected by
… leniency in conviction
or parole standards and
sentencing practices…”
—Corrections Corporation of America,
Annual Report filed with the Securities
and Exchange Commission

“Now, truth in sentencing
laws, based on an ALEC
model bill, require inmates to
serve 80 to 90 percent of their
sentences before becoming
eligible for parole.”

While private prison companies deny taking steps to affirmatively
support legislation that promotes mass incarceration,72 and
although CCA left ALEC in 2010,73 according to a recent news
—Former ALEC Task Force Director
report, “for the past two decades, a CCA executive has been a
Michael Hotra
member of the council’s [task force that] produced more than
85 model bills and resolutions that required tougher criminal
sentencing, expanded immigration enforcement and promoted prison privatization … CCA’s
senior director of business development was the private-sector chair of the task force in the midto late 90s when it produced a series of model bills promoting tough-on-crime measures that
would send more people to prison for a longer time.”74 According to one report by a non-profit
organization, “[i]n 1999, CCA made the [ALEC] President’s List for contributions to ALEC’s States
and National Policy Summit; Wackenhut also sponsored the conference.”75
Even as ALEC has recently pushed certain piecemeal reforms for low-risk prisoners, the
organization continues to trumpet harsh mandatory minimums, stating on its website:
Each year, close to 1,000 bills, based at least in part on ALEC Model Legislation, are
introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20 percent become law …. Since its
founding, ALEC has amassed an unmatched record of achieving ground-breaking

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 15

changes in public policy. Policies such as mandatory minimum sentencing for violent
criminals represent just a handful of ALEC’s victories in the states.76
ALEC has not only done work that helped increase the amount of taxpayer money spent on
corrections generally but has also supported policies likely to increase the proportion of
corrections spending funneled to private corporations. In fact, the “Private Correctional Facilities
Act,” another ALEC model bill, authorized for-profit incarceration contracts between state and
local governments and private prison operators. The model act stated: “This Act would allow any
unit of government to contract with the private sector to perform services currently performed by
a corrections agency.”77 The model act further provided that a state prisoner “may be incarcerated
in a facility constructed or operated by a private entity pursuant to contract under this Act,” and
permitted contracts for the private purchase or lease of correctional facilities for periods of up
to 30 years.78 According to a report by an advocacy group, ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force
at one point reported that prison privatization was a “major issue” on which it was focusing,79
and according to a recent news report, “[s]tarting in the 1990s, [an] ALEC task force … produced
model bills directly promoting prison privatization. These included bills to let private prisons
house inmates from other states without permission of local governments, require privatization
of prisons and correctional services and encourage contracting for prison labor.”80

Immigration Detention and Private Prison Expansion
In recent years, private prisons have profited not only from harsh sentencing policies but also
from an unprecedented increase in the number of detained immigrants—a group incarcerated
pursuant to civil detention authority but housed in prison-like conditions. According to one group,
facilities operated by private prison companies currently house nearly 50% of the more than
30,000 immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at any given time.81
Like imprisonment, immigration detention has expanded dramatically in recent years. In 1994, the
average daily population of detained immigrants stood at 6,785.82 In 1996, Congress passed the
Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which massively expanded
the detention of immigrants.83 Some of the statute’s provisions were aimed at noncitizens with
criminal convictions, authorizing their mandatory (and in some cases indefinite) detention. Other
provisions targeted asylum seekers, who became subject to an expedited removal process that
also mandated detention. By 2001, the number of immigrants detained at any given time had
more than tripled, to 20,429.84
Yet even that number would continue to grow, as the September 11, 2001 attacks further fueled the
reliance on immigration detention, in turn bringing new business for the private prison industry.
Just weeks after September 11, the head of a private prison company spoke with stock analysts.
According to one report submitted to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants, he
stated:

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 16

It is clear that since September 11 there’s a heightened focus on detention. More
people are gonna get caught. So I would say that’s positive. The federal business is the
best business for us, and September 11 is increasing that business.85
The past decade has borne out the prediction that 9/11 would
be good business for private prisons. By 2010, the average daily
population of immigration detainees stood at 31,020, more than a
50% increase over the 2001 level (and an increase of roughly 450%
over the 1994 level).86

Percentage increase in
immigration detention since
1994: 457%

Recently, ALEC leaders have been involved with discriminatory
immigration laws that carry potential benefits for private prisons.
Percentage of immigration
On April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law
detainees currently in
Senate Bill 1070, a statute that requires police officers in Arizona
to ask people for their papers during law enforcement stops
private facilities: 49%
based only on an undefined “reasonable suspicion” that they are
in the country unlawfully.87 Senate Bill 1070, and similar “copycat”
SOURCES: Congressional Research Service;
Detention Watch Network
laws since enacted in several other states,88 have the potential
to further increase the number of immigrants detained, thereby
adding to pressure to build more immigration detention centers.
Russell Pearce, currently President of the Arizona State Senate
and a member of ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force, was a sponsor and moving force
behind the Arizona bill,89 and he presented the idea for the law at an ALEC meeting.90 According
to a report by National Public Radio (which is disputed by Pearce and CCA), the private prison
industry engaged in a “quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill
1070.”91
****
While mass incarceration injures the nation as a whole, private prison companies enjoy a massive
windfall, extracting ever greater amounts of taxpayer dollars from the public fisc. As shown in the
next chapter, such government largesse toward private prison companies results at least in part
from a series of highly questionable claims about privatization that encourage binge spending on
for-profit facilities.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 17

PART II:
THE FALSE PROMISE OF PRIVATE PRISONS
Although mass incarceration strains state budgets while rewarding for-profit companies, certain
private prison supporters and policymakers have put forth privatization as part of a solution
to budgetary crises confronting states across the nation.92 Similarly, leading private prison
companies promise to provide cost-effective alternatives to governmentally operated prisons.
CCA asserts on its website, “[w]ith state and federal budgets stretched and public needs always
competing with limited dollars, legislators are faced with critical choices on where to spend scarce
resources. Creating a partnership with CCA to construct, manage and maintain their prisons
allows governments to care for hardworking taxpayer dollars, while protecting critical priorities
like education and health care.”93 Other private prison companies assert that privatization saves
money, or is otherwise cost-effective. GEO, for example, claims to provide “20% to 30% cost
savings” in facility development, and “10% to 20% cost savings” in facility management.94
This chapter demonstrates that the supposed benefits (economic and otherwise) of private
prisons often fail to withstand scrutiny. The view that private prisons save taxpayer money, fuel
local economies, and adequately protect the safety of prisoners helps to feed mass incarceration
by making privatization appear to be an attractive alternative to reducing prison populations. But
the evidence for such benefits is mixed at best. Not only may privatization fail to save taxpayer
money, but private prison companies, as for-profit institutions, are strongly incentivized to cut
corners and thereby maximize profits, which may come at the expense of public safety and the
well being of prisoners.95
Inflated hopes about the supposed benefits of privatization are especially dangerous now,
as several states, spurred by fiscal necessity, have begun the difficult work of reducing mass
incarceration.96 Such progress threatens the private prison industry. As CCA stated in its 2010
Annual Report, under the heading “Risks Related to Our Business and Industry,” “[l]egislation
has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some nonviolent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior. Also,
sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation ... who would
otherwise be incarcerated.”97
The danger currently posed by the private prison industry is that legislators, operating under
the highly questionable view that private prisons save money, will turn to privatization as a fiscal
solution, rather than cutting corrections spending by reducing the number of people behind
bars. For example, despite a recent statement by the Arizona Auditor General that for-profit
imprisonment in Arizona may cost more than incarceration in publicly-operated facilities,98
Arizona has announced plans to contract out an additional 5,000 prison “beds.” 99

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 18

Accordingly, an analysis of the key benefits supposedly associated with private prisons—that forprofit prisons save money, stimulate economic growth, and adequately ensure the well-being of
prisoners—is especially relevant in the present moment. Such claims are examined below.

Supposed Cost Savings
Evidence that private prisons save public money is mixed at best. While some research supports
such a view,100 numerous other studies and reports have indicated that private prisons do not save
money, cannot be demonstrated to save money in meaningful amounts, or may even cost more
than governmentally operated prisons. For example:
In 2010, the Arizona Auditor General stated that analysis by the Arizona Department of
Corrections “indicated that it may be more costly to house inmates in private prisons”
than public institutions. Indeed, after making adjustments to allow for a more accurate
comparison, “rates paid to private facilities were higher for both minimum- and
medium-custody beds—the two categories of beds for which the [Arizona Department
of Corrections] contracts.”101
In 2010, the Hawaii State Auditor issued a scathing report which found that the state’s
Department of Public Safety “repeatedly misled policymakers and the public by
reporting inaccurate incarceration costs.” In justifying the decision to send prisoners
to CCA prisons in the continental United States, rather than publicly operated prisons
in Hawaii, the Department used a “flawed methodology,” “provide[d] artificial inmate
costs,” and engaged in “skewed cost reporting.”102
In 2010, a Legal Review Committee, established by Monmouth County, New Jersey,
to study the legal implications of privatizing the Monmouth County Correctional
Institution, reported: “Many studies have been done regarding prison privatization, most
of which conclude that the legal implications associated therewith make privatization
unattractive. Specifically, increased liability to the public entity, increased reported
escapes, private prison guards who are not trained to the level of law enforcement
officers, increased number of lawsuits and increased violence and disturbances at
correction facilities … Most objective cost studies show little or no cost savings to taxpayers
coupled with an increased safety risk … [P]rivatization does not appear to be a viable option
for Monmouth County’s maximum security facility due to the potential increased risk of
liability and safety risks without proof of cost savings.”103
In 2007, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the Federal Bureau
of Prisons failed to collect adequate data to determine whether private federal prisons
were more or less expensive than publicly operated federal prisons.104

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 19

A 2007 meta-analysis of previous privatization studies by University of Utah researchers
found: “Cost savings from privatization are not guaranteed and quality of services is
not improved. Across the board effect sizes were small, so small that the value of
moving to a privately managed system is questionable.”105
While a judicial decision does not constitute a study, it is noteworthy that on
September 30, 2011, a Florida court enjoined the Florida Department of Corrections
from implementing the privatization of prisons in 18 counties, finding that the planned
privatization failed to comply with procedures mandated by state law, including
provisions regarding cost effectiveness.106 The court stated that the Department of
Corrections “has not prepared any cost comparison study, cost-benefit analysis, or
business case analysis. It has not consulted the Auditor General … The decision to
issue only one RFP and only one contract for all 29 prison facilities was based on
convenience and speed, … rather than on any demonstrated savings or benefit
advantage … From the record, it appears that the rush to meet [certain] deadlines
has resulted in many shortcomings in the evaluation of whether privatization is in the
best public interest as it relates to cost savings and effective service.”107 As this report
went to press, Governor Rick Scott reportedly had not decided whether to appeal the
ruling.108
While other studies have reported cost savings,109 the independence of at least one researcher who
supported private prisons has come into question based on his links to private prison companies.
Charles Thomas, a University of Florida academic and one of the most outspoken proponents of
private prisons, reportedly received $3 million in consulting fees from private prison companies
or related entities.110 Although a potential conflict of interest does not necessarily imply flawed
research, the Florida Commission on Ethics stated that Thomas’ “contractual relationships
with private corrections companies, or companies related to the private corrections industry …
conflicted with his duty to objectively evaluate the corrections industry through his research with
the University of Florida.”111

Scant Economic Benefit for Local Communities
Aside from supposed cost benefits, the leading for-profit private prison companies assert that
private prisons spur economic growth for local communities. The GEO Group’s website, for
example, claims that GEO prisons provide local communities with an “influx of capital [that] has
the ability to stimulate the economic makeup of a community through consumer spending, new
business enterprises, and capital improvements.”112 Similarly, CCA promises that “[o]ur presence
means more revenue for counties, towns, cities and states. Our facilities mean more local jobs for
hardworking residents.”113

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 20

The view that prisons substantially promote economic
development is highly questionable. According to certain studies,
new prisons appear to bring few, if any, economic benefits. A
2010 study by researchers at Washington State University and
Ohio State University examined data on “all existing and new
prisons in the United States since 1960,” reporting findings that
“cast doubt on claims that prison building is worth the investment
for struggling rural communities.”114 A 2005 nationwide study
reported similar results.115 Yet another empirical study, which
was conducted by an advocacy organization and which focused
on rural counties in New York State, found that although new
prisons create jobs, “these benefits do not aid the host county to
any substantial degree since local residents are not necessarily
in a position to be hired for these jobs.” 116 While it should be noted
that these studies did not differentiate between governmental and
private prisons, the evidence contained in such studies supports
the view that opening new prisons provides scant benefit to local
communities.

“The findings reported here
cast doubt on claims that
prison building is worth the
investment for struggling
rural communities.”
—Gregory Hooks et al., Revisiting the
Impact of Prison Building on Job Growth:
Education, Incarceration, and CountyLevel Employment, 1976-2004, 91 Social
Science Quarterly 228 (2010)

Furthermore, private prisons can impose costs on local communities by obtaining subsidies,
enjoying property tax exemptions, and receiving municipal services (such as water and sewer
services) that cost taxpayer money.117 In 2001, a report by one advocacy group stated that nearly
three quarters of large private prisons received development subsidies from the government.118
Meanwhile, the benefit to counties where private prisons are built and operated can be quite
scant—some receive less than $2 per prisoner per day from the private prison operator.119 The
private prison companies themselves receive a far greater payoff from the government entity
(such as a state corrections department) whose prisoners the company incarcerates. For example,
private prison operators in Arizona were paid $63.52 per medium security prisoner per day in
2009,120 and as early as 2000, the federal government agreed to pay CCA almost $90 per day for
each detained immigrant at a San Diego facility.121
Furthermore, in some cases, local communities eager to build private prisons have set up
financial arrangements that ultimately damage their fiscal standing.122 The following case study
exemplifies this problem.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 21

CASE STUDY

Hardin’s Empty Prison

In 2004, a group of businessmen had a proposal for the small town of Hardin, Montana: build a
private detention center.123 The theory was that such a facility would lead to economic benefits
for the community.124 In 2004, the city’s economic development director predicted that at the
new facility, a job seeker “with a GED or high school diploma” might be able to “get a job with a
significantly higher income.”125
To finance the project in Hardin, the economic development authority created by the town issued
$27 million worth of municipal bonds that were both uninsured and unrated.126 But once the
facility had been built, it was unable to obtain a contract to house prisoners, and its 464 beds
remained empty.127 One news report described the facility as follows: “Inside its concrete walls,
orange jumpsuits, rubber sandals and stacks of white tube socks weigh down the shelves of the
storeroom. Computers, phones and video monitors line the tables in the control room. In the
cafeteria, stacks of plastic trays and cooking utensils wait to be put to use.”128
Because the jail remained empty, the $27 million worth of bonds issued by the economic
development authority created by the town lacked sufficient revenue to back them.129 The
authority defaulted on the bonds.130 Roughly 67 people had been offered jobs and cleared
background checks—but they could not report to work because the facility never opened.131 Just
preventing the empty building from falling apart became a financial burden for the town. Pipes
began to leak in late 2009, more leaks were discovered in 2010, and repairs were slated to total
$8,000.132 In the winter, gas bills ran as high as $10,000 per month.133
Desperate for a solution, the town turned to increasingly outlandish alternatives to fill the facility.
For a time, it appeared that an individual by the name of Michael Hilton, the head of a company
called “American Police Force” would provide the answer to Hardin’s prayers.134 Hilton proposed
not only to fill the jail with prisoners but to construct a “para-military training center” close to
the jail.135 Hilton pledged to provide fees, in addition to such things as computers for schools and
a homeless shelter.136 Hardin’s economic development authority signed a ten-year contract with
Hilton’s company,137 and Hilton arrived in Hardin with SUVs outfitted with a logo for the “Hardin
Police Department” (an entity that does not exist).138
It soon came to light, however, that Hilton had, according to the Associated Press, “gone by
at least 17 aliases and ha[d] a history of fraud and theft … He spent three years in prison in
California and ha[d] $1.1 million in outstanding civil judgments against him.”139 According to a
news report, American Police Force claimed that its services included “sell[ing] assault rifles and
other weapons in Afghanistan on behalf of the U.S. military….”140
The town’s deal with Hilton and his “American Police Force” fell through, but the town still sought
a way to fill its empty jail. When President Barack Obama pledged to remove all detainees from
Guantanamo Bay, the Hardin City Council voted unanimously in favor of receiving Guantanamo

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 22

detainees at the local facility, a proposal that of course never materialized.141 Other ideas for what to
do with the empty jail included using it “as an enormous indoor greenhouse for medical marijuana,
a fight site for paintball or as low income housing.”142 In early 2011, the makers of the show Deadliest
Catch (a program about crabbing boats in Alaska) were exploring whether to use the facility for a
potential reality series on prisons (and how to fill the jail with inmates in order to make such a series
possible).143
According to a news report, one of the groups involved in the plan to construct the facility in 2004
was Corplan Corrections.144 Corplan Corrections currently states on its website:
Many prisons bring 150 to 400 new jobs to a community, not to mention the additional
impact of the income that flows into city and county budgets from prisons. Plus, we have
found that well managed prisons also provide substantial “free” and “donated” labor for
civic projects, parks, schools and public needs.
We look forward to working with you. Now, there are many more communities wanting
detention centers than are available. But if your community qualifies, Corplan Corrections
will make it possible for you. We may even be able to show you how your community can
qualify.145

Limited Incentives to Curb Recidivism and Prison Violence
Leading private prison companies assert that for-profit facilities protect the safety of prisoners.
Management & Training Corporation states on its website: “Our staff training, operational policies,
and systems of accountability emphasize not only safe and secure operations, but rehabilitation
and protection of human rights.”146 Similarly, GEO asserts, “We are committed to establishing and
maintaining a workplace that is safe, secure and humane, not only for our trained and experienced
professionals, but for the offenders entrusted in our care.”147 CCA states: “On the frontline level,
being a member of the security team at CCA means more than performing routine checks on a
shift; it means being an ambassador of safety and security for inmates, the surrounding community
and fellow staff.”148
As detailed below, however, certain research suggests that for-profit prisons may be associated
with heightened levels of violence toward prisoners. The perverse incentives to maximize profits
and cut corners—even at the expense of safety and decent conditions—may contribute to an
unacceptable level of danger in private prisons.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 23

Violence in Private Prisons
Although there is some evidence to the contrary,149 several studies suggest that prisoners in
private facilities may face greater threats to safety than those in governmentally operated prisons.
One study concluded that “the private sector is a more dangerous place to be incarcerated,” and
reported, based upon an analysis of national data, that “the private sector experienced more
than twice the number of assaults against inmates than did the public sector.”150 Similarly, a
United States Department of Justice study, based on a national survey of private prisons, reported
that “the privately operated facilities have a much higher rate of inmate-on-inmate and inmateon-staff assaults and other disturbances” than publicly operated facilities, when institutions of
similar security levels are compared.151 Another study reported: “[T]he survey data presented
in this paper show that privately operated prisons … had much higher escape rates from secure
institutions, and much higher random drug hit rates than the Bureau of Prisons.”152
Another Department of Justice study, which compared a private federal prison, Taft Correctional
Institution (“TCI”), with certain other institutions operated by the federal Bureau of Prisons
(“BOP”), reported lower levels of violent inmate misconduct at the private prison but also stated
that the private prison “contributed to a higher probability that inmates would be involved in overall
misconduct for much of the time period than any of the [governmental] comparison prisons.”153
The study also stated:
TCI consistently demonstrated lower levels of performance on the performance
measures examined here, primarily inmate misconduct and illegal drug use. This
relationship holds both when TCI is compared to the three BOP comparison prisons
as well as when TCI is compared to other BOP low-security prisons. TCI experienced
three significant incidents that did not occur at the BOP comparison prisons. TCI
experienced two escapes … and one large-scale disturbance in which at least 1,000
inmates refused to return to their cells. These instances endangered both public
safety and institution safety.154
Recent examples of unsafe conditions in private prisons include the following:
Just three weeks before the release of this report, prisoner fights in several locations
throughout a private prison in Oklahoma left 46 prisoners injured and required 16
inmates to be sent to the hospital, some of them in critical condition.155
In September 2011, Donald Dunn, a private prison employee responsible for transporting
immigration detainees pleaded guilty, according to a Department of Justice press
release, to two federal deprivation of rights charges: “While transporting the females
between the correctional center and either Austin Bergstrom International Airport or
the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Austin, Dunn admittedly would stop the vehicle, order

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 24

the females to exit the vehicle, then mislead each of the victims to believe that he was
conducting a legitimate search of their bodies, when in fact, the defendant touched the
victims in a sexual manner and for the purposes of self gratification.”156 Dunn earlier
pled guilty to state charges of official oppression and unlawful restraint in connection
with the molestation of five immigration detainees.157 On October 19, 2011, the ACLU of
Texas brought suit against defendants including Dunn, the private prison company, and
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on behalf of immigration detainees alleging
sexual abuse.158
In August 2011, according to a Department of Justice press release: “former Contract
Security Officer Edwin Rodriguez, 30, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual abuse of a
female detainee under his supervision and control. The sexual act occurred inside the
Willacy Detention Center while Rodriguez was on duty.”159
In 2009, State of Hawaii investigators sent to Otter Creek Correctional Center, a private
prison for women in Kentucky that held Hawaii prisoners, found, according to a news
report, that “at least five corrections officials at the prison, including a chaplain, had
been charged with [engaging in sexual intercourse] with inmates in the last three
years, and four were convicted.”160
Evidence recently obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act request,
submitted in 2011 to the Department of Homeland Security, provides a further window
into assault in private prisons. These documents suggest that the Department’s Office
of Inspector General, which investigates sexual abuse of individuals held in immigration
detention facilities, received numerous sexual abuse complaints between 2008 and
2010 regarding the Willacy Detention Center in Raymondville, Texas—a private facility
operated by Management & Training Corporation. Excerpts from these documents,
which were heavily redacted by the government, appear below.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 25

The following case studies further illustrate unacceptable levels of violence and unsafe conditions
in private prisons.

CASE STUDY

Appalling Conditions at a For-Profit Youth Facility

Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, a juvenile prison in Mississippi operated by the GEO
Group, is currently the target of a lawsuit and a Department of Justice investigation regarding
conditions alleged to be so horrific that a former resident reportedly calls the facility “the deepest
depths of hell.”161 Another former prisoner indicates that violence is so pervasive that it has
become “entertainment” for guards.162 The facility has averaged as many as three injuries per
day due to violence.163 Oversight at the facility is highly questionable, as the GEO Group provides
reimbursement for the salary of the individual appointed by the state to monitor conditions.164
A lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010 alleges a pattern of
horrendous physical and sexual abuse by security staff, use of prolonged solitary confinement,
abuse and neglect of mentally ill youth, and failure to provide basic mental health care.165 While
juveniles allegedly suffer in atrocious conditions, private companies including the GEO Group
have, according to one report, extracted more than $100 million in revenue from the facility’s
operation.166

CASE STUDY

The Death of Jesus Manuel Galindo

After spending a month in solitary confinement in a Texas private prison, 32-year-old Jesus
Manuel Galindo, according to the complaint filed in a pending lawsuit, was found dead in his
cell in December 2008.167 According to papers filed in the case, the GEO Group operated the
prison; a second private entity, Physicians Network Association (PNA), provided medical care for
prisoners.168
As court papers and news reports assert, Galindo was an epileptic, and thus in need of regular
medical care and attention, but his body allegedly was found after rigor mortis had set in, indicating
that prison officials did not discover his death for some time.169 According to the complaint filed
in the lawsuit, Galindo died of an epileptic seizure while in solitary confinement, left in a cell with
a broken intercom that prevented him from calling for help.170 According to a neurologist who
reviewed Galindo’s autopsy, he was “set up to die.”171
Galindo’s death is all the more tragic because several years earlier, in 2003, the Civil Rights
Division of the United States Department of Justice had found that another correctional facility,
through PNA, “provide[d] inadequate medical services in the following areas: intake, screening,
and referral; acute care; emergent care; chronic and prenatal care; and medication administration
and management. As a result, inmates at the [facility] with serious medical needs [were] at risk
for harm.”172 Despite these findings of serious neglect, the federal Bureau of Prisons rewarded the
company by entering into a contract to house federal prisoners at the Texas facility where PNA
provides medical care, and where Galindo’s death would later occur.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 26

CASE STUDY

Rampant Violence at the Idaho Correctional Center

The Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) is owned and operated by CCA. Levels of violence at the
facility have been so extreme that it has been dubbed the “Gladiator School.”173 A study conducted
by the Idaho Department of Correction in 2008 found that there were four times as many prisoneron-prisoner assaults at ICC than at Idaho’s other seven prisons combined.174 In a lawsuit filed by
the ACLU on behalf of ICC prisoners, which settled in September 2011, the Complaint alleged that
guards “cruelly use prisoner violence as a management tool,” that “violence is epidemic at ICC,”
and that staff “fail to adequately investigate assaults,” “frequently place vulnerable prisoners with
predators,” and “fail to protect prisoners who request and need protection from assault.”175 In
2010, the Associated Press obtained video footage showing a prisoner being mercilessly beaten by
another inmate, while guards reportedly failed to intervene.176
In a letter to the ACLU, one prisoner described the lack of treatment he received after being
attacked:
I was treated horribly. Like it was my fault … I was then taken to the ‘hole,’ stripped to my
underwear and left. I was shaking and cold. I was bleeding and [I kept going] in and out of
consciousness. I had a concussion with loss of balance and headache—many, many hours
later I was given my clothes and a blanket. The ice was all the medical [treatment] I had.
The parties reached a settlement agreement in September 2011 that requires CCA to make major
improvements in facility conditions, including a requirement that the corporation perform an
investigation of all assaults and increase staffing levels.177

Flawed Incentives and Private Prison Violence
Dangers in private prisons may reflect, at least in part, financial incentives to minimize costs and
thereby maximize profits. Indeed, according to one scholar, “there is a much stronger incentive
for private [prison] companies to save costs, not for the public’s benefit, but for their own profit.”178
In particular, low pay for private prison staff may result in a higher level of staff turnover. As
stated in one study, “private operators are running prisons with workers who are generally
paid less than their public-sector counterparts,” and “privately operated prisons … had much
higher separation rates for correctional officers.”179 Similarly, according to another study, private
prisons, as compared to public facilities, pay correctional officers less and face a higher rate of
staff turnover.180

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 27

These shortcuts potentially create grave risks, as pay and turnover may “contribute to the higher
levels of violence seen in the private sector.” 181 More specifically:
Privately operated prisons appear to have systemic problems in maintaining secure
facilities …. Advocates of prison privatization have argued that private prisons can
pay workers less, offer fewer benefits, and still deliver a product that is as good or
better than that provided by the public sector. The evidence to date contradicts such an
encompassing assertion.182
The same study continued: “[t]he data presented here indicate that less costly workers in private
prisons have not produced an acceptable level of public safety or inmate care to date.”183

Private Prison Incentives:

The more things change…
Eighteenth Century: The private keepers who ran jails had little incentive to spend money on
impoverished inmates, subjecting them to meager rations and disease.
Nineteenth Century: The contractors who “rented” prisoners for the day under the convict
lease system had no financial reason to keep them alive; prisoners died in droves.
Today: Private prison operators have incentives to improve their bottom line by cutting
corners—potentially at the expense of both public safety and prison conditions.

… the more they stay the same.

The following case study shows that an Arizona private prison was staffed with inexperienced
guards, and that better management of the facility might have avoided a horrific escape.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 28

CASE STUDY

A Horrific Escape from an Arizona Private Prison

The infamous escape of three prisoners, including convicted murderer Tracy Province, from a
private prison in Kingman, Arizona on July 30, 2010, provides a tragic illustration of the dangers
created in one private prison184—and the use of inexperienced correctional officers. The results
of the escape were horrific, and escapees were charged with allegedly murdering, while on the
run, an elderly Oklahoma couple vacationing in New Mexico, and setting fire to their camper.185
One of the prisoners was recaptured only after a chase in which he fired bullets at a police car;
another was caught while hitchhiking with a pistol.186 The Director of the Arizona Department of
Corrections described the prison break as the state’s worst escape in 30 years.187
The escape is all the more tragic because security lapses may have been a contributing factor.188
Although alarms went off as the prisoners escaped, state officials would later report that private
prison guards ignored the alarms, deeming them false.189 In August 2010, shortly after the
escape, the Arizona Department of Corrections produced a scathing security assessment of the
private prison, finding, among numerous other problems, that the private prison’s staff lacked
experience and routinely ignored alarms. Findings in the report included the following:
“Alarms regularly and routinely activate throughout the day .... This has become such a
‘norm’ that zone activation events are treated at a lower priority than other duties such as
answering the telephone, issuing keys, checking staff in, etc.”190
“The alarm system in the perimeter zones has not been serviced or maintained by trained
experts .... The sensitivity of the zones is not routinely tested or adjusted. This has led
to constant false alarms (during one five minute period .... [the auditor] noted six alarm
activations) which, over the course of months, has led to staff being desensitized.”191
“Staff are fairly ‘green’ across all shifts. Many staff have under one year of service. Finding
staff with 2 or more years of service is rare.”192
It was estimated that “one third of security employees have less than three months on the
job or in their promoted position.”193
“Staff are not proficient with weapons.”194
“Weapons are stored loaded and drills are not being conducted regularly.”195
Despite this tragic escape, the same private prison company (Management & Training
Corporation) continues to operate private prisons in Arizona, including the Kingman facility.196

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 29

Private Prisons and Rehabilitation
Private prison operators have limited incentives to reduce future crime. As one scholar notes,
“[i]t very well may be that companies operating private prisons … will be so concerned with
cost cutting, profit making, and satisfying their stockholders that some major goals of the
institution will be neglected or overlooked. For instance, some aspects of rehabilitation … may
be affected.”197 Numerous religious groups have condemned the perverse incentives inherent in
for-profit incarceration—including the absence of incentives to devote resources to rehabilitation.
According to the Private Corrections Working Group, statements by religious groups in opposition
to private prisons include the following:
Catholic Bishops Resolution (2000): “We bishops question whether private, for-profit
corporations can effectively run prisons. The profit motive may lead to reduced efforts
to change behaviors, treat substance abuse, and offer skills necessary for reintegration
into the community.”
Presbyterian Church USA (2003): “Since the goal of for-profit private prisons is earning
a profit for their shareholders, there is a basic and fundamental conflict with the
concept of rehabilitation as the ultimate goal of the prison system. We believe that this
is a glaring and significant flaw in our justice system and that for-profit private prisons
should be abolished.”
United Methodist Church (2000): “The United Methodist Church declares its opposition
to the privatization of prisons and jails and to profit making from the punishment of
human beings.”
Episcopal Diocese of Newark (2002): “The industry of warehousing prisoners in private
prisons has presented a temptation to those who would profit from the punishment of
human beings.” 198
While the empirical evidence is mixed, individuals released from private prisons may be more
likely to commit future crimes than people released from publicly operated prisons. According to a
2008 study of Oklahoma prisons, “private prison inmate groups had a greater hazard of recidivism
than did public inmate groups.”199
Not only is there little incentive to spend money on rehabilitation, but crime, at least in one sense,
is good for private prisons: the more crimes that are committed, and the more individuals who are
sent to prison, the more money private prisons stand to make. Increased recidivism gives private
prisons a steady clientele but has negative consequences for the public—more crime, and more
money spent re-incarcerating former prisoners.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 30

For Private Prisons, More Crime = More Profits
Our growth … depends on a number of factors we cannot control, including crime rates …
[R]eductions in crime rates … could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences
requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.
—Corrections Corporation of America, Securities and Exchange Commission Form 10-K,
at 19-20 (2010)

One day, as a 14-year-old boy was being released after serving his sentence [at a private prison
operated by CCA], the guard offered him some friendly advice.
“Stay out of trouble,” he said. “I don’t want to see you back here.”
“Why not?” the kid responded. “That’s how you make your money.”
—Eric Bates, Private Prisons: Over the Next Five Years Analysts Expect the Private Share of the Prison
“Market” to More than Double, THE NATION, Jan. 5, 1998

****
Although supporters of for-profit prisons contend that such institutions provide an answer to
bloated state corrections budgets, these facilities offer no solution—financial or otherwise—to
the mass incarceration crisis confronting state governments. The evidence that private prisons
provide demonstrable financial savings is mixed at best, and prisons do not appear to provide
economic benefits to local communities. Private prisons suffer from flawed incentives and may
face heightened levels of violence.
Given these enormous potential drawbacks, why have private prison companies been so successful
in persuading policymakers to build more and more private prisons? Much of the answer lies in
shrewd—and sometimes cynical—efforts used by some members of the private prison industry to
curry political favor. The following chapter explores this topic.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 31

PART III:
THE PRIVATE PRISON PITCH
In order to increase revenue and maximize profit, private prison companies must obtain more
and more contracts to lock up increasing numbers of people. Some private prison companies, or
individuals associated with these companies, employ a range of aggressive tactics to expand the
reach of for-profit imprisonment. This chapter examines such tactics, which include:
Questionable financial incentives
Benefitting from the “revolving door” between public and private corrections
Extensive lobbying
Lavish campaign contributions
Control of information
Not every private prison company has been found to engage in each tactic discussed in this chapter,
but the tactics used by some companies may pose an especially grave concern at present, as
state governments struggle to reduce incarceration costs. Such tactics threaten to undermine
real solutions to overincarceration by encouraging cash-strapped state governments to turn to
privatization rather than serious criminal justice reform. The highly questionable view that private
prisons provide advantages (financial or otherwise) over governmental facilities, discussed in the
previous chapter, may become all the more dangerous when coupled with the influence-peddling
strategies discussed in this chapter.

Questionable Financial Incentives
The private prison industry has managed to expand its reach in part because some private prison
companies, or individuals associated with those companies, have provided questionable financial
incentives to legislators or other government officials. Two case studies of recent events in
Pennsylvania and Alaska illustrate the use of questionable financial incentives in connection with
private prisons.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 32

CASE STUDY

A Travesty of Juvenile Justice in Pennsylvania

In February 2011, a jury convicted former Luzerene County, Pennsylvania Judge Mark Ciavarella
of racketeering, money laundering, and conspiracy in connection with his acceptance of nearly
one million dollars from the developer of a private juvenile facility.200 Prosecutors reportedly
referred to these activities as a “kids for cash” scheme.201 Ciavarella was responsible for an
enormous share of imprisoned juveniles. Indeed, in the span of five years, Ciavarella’s rulings
accounted for 22% of decisions to detain children in Pennsylvania—even though Luzerne
county accounts for less than 3% of Pennsylvania’s population.202 Ciavarella has appealed the
convictions.203
According to families with children tried by Ciavarella, the judge would hold trials only minutes
long.204 He allegedly ordered a ten-year-old incarcerated and locked up a high school girl for
three months because she mocked a school official on a website.205 In another reported instance,
a twelve-year-old boy took his mother’s car and got into an accident.206 The mother filed a police
report, concerned that insurance otherwise would not cover the damage.207 Ciavarella reportedly
jailed the boy for a full two years.208 In another instance, Ciavarella allegedly based a juvenile’s
sentence on “the number of birds perched outside a courtroom window.”209
The payments received by Ciavarella from the private prison developer ultimately led not only to
Ciavarella’s criminal conviction but also to the dismissal, by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania,
of 4,000 juvenile cases handled by Ciavarella.210 The Court stated:
Ciavarella admitted under oath that he had received payments from Robert Powell, a
co-owner of the [two private facilities], and from Robert K. Mericle, the developer who
constructed the juvenile facilities, during the period of time that Ciavarella was presiding
over juvenile matters in Luzerne County .... Ciavarella’s admission that he received these
payments, and that he failed to disclose his financial interests arising from the development
of the juvenile facilities, thoroughly undermines the integrity of all juvenile proceedings
before Ciavarella .... [T]his Court cannot have any confidence that Ciavarella decided any
Luzerne County juvenile case fairly and impartially while he labored under the specter of his
self-interested dealings with the facilities.211

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 33

CASE STUDY

Operation Polar Pen

The federal probe of political corruption in Alaska that culminated in the trial of Senator Ted
Stevens and the guilty plea of oil executive Bill Allen began as “Operation Polar Pen”—an
investigation of corruption connected to a scheme to build a private prison in Alaska.212 The
federal investigation led to charges not only against politicians and oil industry moguls but
also against Bill Weimar, an individual who ultimately pled guilty to criminal counts, including
conspiracy to engage in honest services mail and wire fraud,213 in connection with efforts to win
passage of legislation that could have resulted in construction of a private prison.214 Sections of
the factual basis for his guilty plea, which Weimar signed, are shown on the following page.
Before the scandal, Weimar had made enormous profits in private corrections. In the late
1990s, he had sold, at a price tag of $21 million, five private halfway houses in Alaska to Cornell
Companies.215 Weimar then moved to Montana and acquired a personal compound that reportedly
included “a six-bedroom home, two-bedroom caretaker’s cottage, indoor shooting and archery
ranges, equestrian center, two-lane bowling alley, heated swimming pool, racquetball and tennis
courts and helipad, all on 60 acres.”216
But Weimar had an opportunity to make even more money if a private prison were constructed
in Alaska. His company, Allvest—along with Cornell Companies and Veco (the company led by
Allen)—were part of a consortium called “Corrections Group North” that was seeking to acquire
a $1 billion, 25-year contract to build and operate such a prison.217 Weimar retained an interest in
the plan and would have made another $5.5 million if the prison were constructed.218
To push the plan forward, Weimar focused on an individual—identified only as “CANDIDATE A”
in legal papers filed by federal prosecutors—who was running for a seat in the Alaska State
Legislature.219 According to news reports, the candidate described in legal papers matched the
description of Jerry Ward, who had previously served in the legislature and was seeking reelection
to his former position.220 Ward has been described as “one of the [Alaska] Legislature’s biggest
advocates of hiring private contractors to provide public services,”221 and a representative who
“fervently pushed private prison projects.” 222
Weimar provided financial support totaling approximately $20,000 to the campaign of
“CANDIDATE A,” and Weimar, according to his guilty plea, “understood and believed that
CANDIDATE A would, as a public official, use his official position to advocate for the passage
and funding of legislation that would establish a privately-operated prison, knowing that if such
legislation passed and a privately-operated prison contract was awarded to Company A, WEIMAR
stood to benefit personally.”223
Ultimately, the private prison that Weimar corruptly sought to build was never constructed,
thanks to resistance from local communities, correctional officers’ unions, and other Alaska
lawmakers.224 Weimar himself served his sentence in a governmentally operated federal prison in
Arizona.225

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 34

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 35

The Revolving Door Between Public and Private Corrections
Private prison companies make their money through contracts for prison construction and
operation negotiated with public officials. Many in the private prison industry, however, once
served in state corrections departments, and numerous state corrections officials formerly worked
for private prison companies. In some cases, this revolving door between public corrections and
private prisons may contribute to the ability of some companies to win contracts or to avoid
sufficient scrutiny from the corrections departments charged with overseeing their operations. A
full examination of the numerous instances in which private prison contractors have been hired
into and out of government posts could fill an entire report. Select examples include the following:
Prior to becoming the New Mexico Secretary of Corrections, Joe Williams worked for
the GEO Group as a warden. In 2010, the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee
reported that although private prisons, including GEO, failed to maintain prison staffing
levels required by contract, the state corrections department—headed by Williams—
declined to collect contractual fines. The Committee found that the state might have
collected an estimated $18 million from the private prison companies if the corrections
department had enforced the contractual rules applicable to private prisons.226
Former BOP Director Harley Lappin, after being arrested for alleged drunk driving, left
government service in early 2011.227 Lappin clearly remained valuable to the private
prison industry, and soon began work for CCA, as the company’s Chief Corrections
Officer. As the corporation’s CEO stated, “Harley values correctional partnerships …. I
am very excited to have him as part of our leadership team.”228 The company’s payroll
also includes a second former BOP Director: J. Michael Quinlan serves as a Senior Vice
President of CCA.229
According to a letter from the American Federation of Government Employees to
Senator Patrick Leahy, during Stacia A. Hylton’s tenure as Federal Detention Trustee,
GEO obtained contracts to house federal prisoners, including U.S. Marshals Service
detainees, that generate more than $80 million in annual revenue for the company.
The letter asserts that even before she retired as Federal Detention Trustee, Hylton
formed a private consulting company. Shortly after retiring, the letter continues, Hylton
accepted $112,500 from the GEO Group, her only client.230 In 2010, Hylton reentered
the federal government, as head of the U.S. Marshals Service.231
The following case study further illustrates the problems created by the revolving door between
public and private corrections.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 36

CASE STUDY

Former GEO Employees Fail To Report Children
Living in Squalor

In 2007, the Texas Youth Commission fired employees responsible for monitoring a West Texas
juvenile prison run by GEO because the employees failed to report horrid conditions at the
prison.232 In fact, the employees “not only failed to report substandard conditions but praised the
operation. In the monitors’ most recent review … the prison was awarded an overall compliance
score of 97.7 percent. In that review, monitors also thanked GEO staff for their positive work with
[Texas] youth.”233
It later came to light that some of the monitors—immediately before commencing their
employment as state monitors of GEO’s contract performance—had worked for the GEO Group.234
When Texas finally sent independent auditors to the youth facility, the auditors reportedly “got so
much fecal matter on their shoes they had to wipe their feet on the grass outside.”235 Findings in
the independent report included all of the following:
“The GEO Group does not ensure that the youth are provided with a clean and orderly living
environment.”
“Cells were filthy, smelled of feces and urine, and were in need of paint.”
“[T]here are serious problems with insects throughout the facility and grounds.”
“Plumbing chases were not secure at the time of the inspection. Contraband and pests were
found in these areas.”
“Water leaks are numerous throughout the facility, creating an unsanitary and unsafe
environment for all youth and staff.”
“There is racial segregation [in] the dorms; Hispanics are not allowed to be cell mates with
African Americans.”
“Youth sprayed with [Oleoresin Capsicum] pepper spray are not routinely decontaminated.”236
The Texas Youth Commission auditors also held focus groups, in which children at the facility
reported:
They have “not received church services in over two months.”
They are “disciplined for speaking Spanish.”
They “are sometimes not allowed to brush their teeth for days at a time.”
They “had been forced to urinate or defecate in some container other than a toilet.”237

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 37

The Private Prison Lobby
Certain private prison companies, according to a recent report by Detention Watch Network,
spend large sums of money to lobby the House of Representatives, the Senate, and several federal
agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons (which incarcerates over 200,000 prisoners at
any given time) and the Department of Homeland Security (which detains over 30,000 immigrants
at any given time).238 According to nonprofit groups, CCA alone spent over $18 million on federal
lobbying between 1999 and 2009, “often employing five or six firms at the same time,”239 and in
2010, CCA spent another $970,000 lobbying the federal government.240
These figures capture only federal government lobbying—but private prison companies also
lobby heavily in statehouses across the country. While total expenditures on state lobbying are
impossible to calculate because lobbying disclosure requirements vary from state to state,241 what
is clear is that lobbyists for private prisons have fanned out from coast to coast. For example, the
Justice Policy Institute recently reported that “[i]n Florida alone, [the three largest private prison
companies] utilized 30 lobbyists to advocate for private prison contracts and policies to promote
the use of [private] prisons.”242
Between 2003 and 2011, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, CCA hired
199 lobbyists in 32 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida,
Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi,
Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee,
Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.243 During the same
period, GEO hired 72 lobbyists in 17 states.244

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 38

States Lobbied by CCA and GEO, 2003-2011
KEY:

States lobbied by CCA

States lobbied by both

States lobbied by GEO

States lobbied by neither

AK
HI

SOURCE: National Institute on Money in State Politics

Campaign Contributions
In addition to lobbying, for-profit prison companies also spend vast sums of money on campaign
contributions. Since 2000, the leading private prison companies—CCA, GEO, and Cornell (which has
since been absorbed by GEO in a merger)—have contributed over six million dollars to candidates
for state office and over $800,000 to candidates for federal office, according to the Justice Policy
Institute.245 The organization further reports that in 2010 alone, these companies contributed over
two million dollars to state political campaigns, with a large fraction of the money funneled to
state party committees.246
Data maintained by the National Institute on Money in State Politics also reveal the following
about private prison campaign contributions: Between 2003 and 2011, CCA contributed to over
600 state candidates, and GEO contributed to over 400.247 Both corporations have established
their own Political Action Committees (PACs).248 These companies backed a high proportion of
candidates who ultimately won elections, which may indicate a strategy of focusing contributions
on candidates likely to wield power. GEO, for example, made 506 campaign donations to incumbents
and only 12 donations to challengers between 2003 and 2011.249

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 39

The following case study illustrates the combined effect that campaign contributions and the
revolving door may have had on the expansion of privatized incarceration in Arizona.

CASE STUDY

More Prisons for Profit in Arizona

Faced with fiscal crises, states across the country, including “tough on crime” jurisdictions
such as Texas and South Carolina, have labored to reduce corrections spending.250 But Arizona’s
Department of Corrections is the only large agency in that state not subject to a budget cut in
fiscal year 2012—in fact, the Department’s budget increased by over ten million dollars.251 Despite
a recent statement by the Arizona Auditor General that for-profit imprisonment in Arizona may
cost more than incarceration in publicly-operated facilities,252 Arizona has announced plans to
contract out an additional 5,000 prison “beds.” 253
The 5,000 bed private prison expansion was included in Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s 2010
executive budget. 254 CCA employees and executives reportedly contributed over $1,000 to
Governor Brewer’s reelection campaign, and CCA’s Political Action Committee and lobbyists
“contributed another $60,000 to Brewer’s top legislative priority, Proposition 100, a sales tax to
help avoid budget cuts to education.”255 In late 2010, CBS 5 News in Arizona reported that Chuck
Coughlin, Brewer’s campaign chairman and policy advisor, worked as a lobbyist for CCA; that
Brewer’s communications director, Paul Senseman, used to lobby for CCA; and that Senseman’s
wife continued to lobby for the corporation.256

Control of Information
For-profit prison companies go to great lengths, and apparently spend significant funds, to put
forth a positive public image. Certain private prison companies offer the public well-manicured
websites with extensive press releases and video footage touting their accomplishments, and the
industry praises itself in publications such as Service, Security and Solutions (published by CCA)
and GEOworld (published by GEO). Puff pieces on private prison websites cover such topics as the
Paws in Prison program (which pairs prisoners with dogs), awards given to the industry, and a
charity golf tournament hosted by CCA’s chairman.257
Private prison companies also funnel money (which, of course, initially comes largely from
taxpayers) into communications departments, which churn out positive stories about private
prisons. CCA employs a Vice President for Communications, whose duties include “strategic
marketing communications, media management, [and] brand positioning.”258 Management &
Training Corporation likewise has a Vice President for Communications.259
Meanwhile, private prison websites rarely report negative information: no one would know from
CCA’s website that one of its employees sexually abused multiple female immigration detainees,

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 40

or that one of its facilities is allegedly so violent that it has been
dubbed the “gladiator school.”260 GEO unabashedly conditions
the right to use its media materials on a reporter’s agreement
to write positive stories about the company: “The following
photographs have been pre-approved for media publication
use. A license to reproduce and publish such photographs is
hereby granted, provided, the use will not disparage GEO…”261
Meanwhile, according to journalist and policy analyst Tom
Barry: “A near-total absence of committed oversight has allowed the prison industry to flourish in the shadows. Requests
for the most basic information about the functioning of these
prisons and detention centers routinely lead nowhere.”262
A private prison loophole in open records laws contributes to
this lack of accountability. Under the Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA), members of the public can request documents from
federal prisons and immigration detention facilities—but when
the federal government sends prisoners to a private prison,
the private prison is exempt from FOIA requests.263 Under
many state open records laws, the same asymmetry applies
to state prisoners in state institutions and state prisoners in
private prisons.

“The following photographs
have been pre-approved
for media publication use.
A license to reproduce and
publish such photographs is
hereby granted, provided, the
use will not disparage GEO…”
—GEO Group Website

“A near-total absence of
committed oversight has
allowed the prison industry
to flourish in the shadows.
Requests for the most
basic information about the
functioning of these prisons
and detention centers
routinely lead nowhere.”

CCA has also blocked efforts by some of its own shareholders
(specifically, a coalition of religious groups that own stock,
including the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and
the Mercy Investment Program) to bring greater transparency
to the corporation’s political contributions. A 2007 stockholder
proposal put forward by these groups would have required
—Journalist Tom Barry
“an accounting of our Company’s funds that are used for
political contributions or expenditures” and disclosure of “the
internal guidelines or policies, if any, governing our company’s
political contributions and expenditures.”264 CCA’s Board of Directors unanimously recommended
that stockholders reject the proposal,265 and the measure was voted down.266 More recently,
according to a news report, CCA’s Board has continued to oppose similar proposals for corporate
transparency brought by religious groups that own stock in the company.267

****
A range of aggressive and shrewd tactics drive the expansion of private incarceration. The private
prison industry thrives in part by employing effective marketing strategies, rather than offering
effective solutions.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 41

CONCLUSION
In America, our criminal justice system should keep us safe, operate fairly, and be cost-effective.
Mass incarceration, however, deprives record numbers of individuals of their liberty, has at best a
minimal effect on public safety, and cripples state budgets. Meanwhile, the private prison industry
rakes in profits by obtaining government money in increasing amounts, by depriving Americans of
liberty in ever greater numbers, and potentially by cutting corners at the expense of public safety
and prison security.
For-profit prisons are a major contributor to bloated state budgets and mass incarceration—not
a part of any viable solution to these urgent problems. In order to reduce corrections spending
and mitigate mass incarceration, governments must focus on the hard work of criminal justice
reform, and not the false promise of for-profit imprisonment.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 42

ENDNOTES
1

THE PEW CENTER ON THE STATES, ONE IN 100: BEHIND BARS IN AMERICA 2008 5, 35 (2008); Rough Justice in America: Too Many
Laws, Too Many Prisoners, THE ECONOMIST, July 22, 2010; Adam Liptak, U.S. Prison Population Dwarfs That of Other
Nations, N.Y. TIMES, Apr. 23, 2008.

2

See Rough Justice in America; Too Many Laws, Too Many Prisoners, THE ECONOMIST, July 22, 2010. Currently, the United
States incarcerates over 2.3 million people, approximately one out of every 100 adults. Id.

3

MICHELLE ALEXANDER, THE NEW JIM CROW: MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS 6-7 (2010); THE PEW CENTER ON THE
STATES, ONE IN 100: BEHIND BARS IN AMERICA 2008 35 (2008); TODD R. CLEAR, IMPRISONING COMMUNITIES: HOW MASS INCARCERATION
MAKES DISADVANTAGED NEIGHBORHOODS WORSE 6-7, 9-10 (2007).

4

See, e.g., Greg Bluestein, Associated Press, State Budget Crises Push Sentencing Reforms, BOSTON GLOBE, Apr. 2, 2011;
JUDITH GREENE & MARC MAUER, THE SENTENCING PROJECT, DOWNSCALING PRISONS: LESSONS FROM FOUR STATES 1-2 (2010); AMERICAN
CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, SMART REFORM IS POSSIBLE: STATES REDUCING INCARCERATION RATES AND COSTS WHILE PROTECTING COMMUNITIES
5-7 (2011).

5

CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, 2010 ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K 19 (2010). The full paragraph stated: “Our ability
to secure new contracts to develop and manage correctional and detention facilities depends on many factors outside
our control. Our growth is generally dependent upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage
new correctional and detention facilities. This possible growth depends on a number of factors we cannot control,
including crime rates and sentencing patterns in various jurisdictions and acceptance of privatization. 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. Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions
that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release
based on good behavior. Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation
with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly, reductions in crime rates or resources
dedicated to prevent and enforce crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring
incarceration at correctional facilities.” Id. at 19-20.

6

From 1990 to 2009, the number of people incarcerated in private prisons grew from approximately 7,000 to
approximately 129,000 inmates. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS, CENSUS OF STATE AND
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES, 1995 iv (1997); HEATHER C. WEST, ET AL., UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, BUREAU OF
JUSTICE STATISTICS, PRISONERS IN 2009, 33 App. Table 19 (2010).

7

HEATHER C. WEST, ET AL., UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS, PRISONERS IN 2009, 34 App. Table
20 (2010) (6.8% of adult state prisoners and 16.4% of adult federal prisoners in private prisons in 2009); DETENTION
WATCH NETWORK, THE INFLUENCE OF THE PRIVATE PRISON INDUSTRY IN IMMIGRATION DETENTION, www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/
privateprisons (49% of immigration detainees in private facilities in 2009) (last visited Oct. 4, 2011).

8

CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, 2010 LETTER TO SHAREHOLDERS 1 (2010) (($1.7 billion in 2010 CCA revenue); THE GEO
GROUP, INC., 2010 ANNUAL REPORT 3, 20 (2010) ($1.27 billion in 2009 GEO revenue); MORNINGSTAR, CORRECTIONS CORPORATION
OF AMERICA, KEY EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION, http://insiders.morningstar.com (under “search insiders by ticker,” search for
“CXW”) (CCA executive compensation); MORNINGSTAR, THE GEO GROUP, INC., KEY EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION, http://insiders.
morningstar.com (under “search insiders by ticker,” search for “GEO”) (GEO executive compensation).

9

For a discussion of the conflicting evidence regarding cost savings, see infra at 19-20 and nn. 100-109.

10

Bob Ortega, Arizona To Expand Private Prisons, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Jul. 3, 2011.

11

STATE OF ARIZONA, OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL, REPORT NO. 10-08, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS-PRISON POPULATION GROWTH
19, 21 (2010) (citing ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, FY 2009 OPERATING PER CAPITA COST REPORT: COST IDENTIFICATION AND
COMPARISON OF STATE AND PRIVATE CONTRACT BEDS (2010)).

12

Bob Ortega, Arizona To Expand Private Prisons, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Jul. 3, 2011.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 43

13

Morgan Loew, Brewer Linked to Private Prisons Housing Illegal Immigrants, KPHO.COM, (Sept. 1, 2010), http://www.kpho.
com/story/14791252/brewer-linked-to-private-prisons-housing-illegal-immigrants-9-01-2010.

14

Real Savings Needed for Private Prisons, FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, June 22, 2010; see also Richard A. Oppel, Jr., Private
Prisons Found To Offer Little in Savings, N.Y. TIMES, May 18, 2011; Tom Brown, Private Prison Business Eyes Big Florida
Prize, REUTERS, May 12, 2011.

15

Scott Hiaasen, Effort to Privatize Florida Prisons Raises Questions of Cost, MIAMI HERALD, Apr. 22, 2011; see also David
Royse, News Service of Florida, Florida State Senator Wants Answers on $25 Million Prison Privatization Costs, FLORIDA
COURIER, Aug. 16, 2011; Teamster Nation, Florida Prison Privatization Already Open for Bids, July 26, 2011, http://
teamsternation.blogspot.com/2011/07/florida-prison-privatization-already.html (last visited Sept. 30, 2011).

16

Seek Savings Beyond Privatizing Prisons, ORLANDO SENTINEL, Aug. 23, 2011.

17

Final Declaratory and Injunctive Judgment at 6, Baiardi v. Tucker, No. 2011 CA 1838 (Fla. Cir. Ct. Sept. 30, 2011).

18

Id. at 5. As this report went to press, Governor Rick Scott reportedly had not decided whether to appeal the ruling.
Mary Ellen Klas, Grand Jury Probes Panhandle Private Prison Deal, MIAMI HERALD, Oct. 9, 2011.

19

Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press, Ohio 1st in US To Sell Prison to Private Company, SF GATE, Sept. 1, 2011; Press
Release, ACLU of Ohio, State’s Decision To Sell Only One Prison Underscores Problems for Taxpayers, Says ACLU,
Sept. 1, 2011 (on file with author).

20

Joe Guillen, Gov-elect John Kasich Picks Private Corrections Consultant and Former Warden To Run Ohio’s Prisons
System, PLAIN DEALER, Jan. 4, 2011; Chillicothe’s Gary Mohr Named Ohio Prisons Chief, CHILLICOTHE GAZETTE, Jan. 4, 2011.

21

ACLU OF OHIO, PRISONS FOR PROFIT: A LOOK AT PRISON PRIVATIZATION 1, 18-20 (2011); AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, SMART REFORM
IS POSSIBLE: STATES REDUCING INCARCERATION RATES AND COSTS WHILE PROTECTING COMMUNITIES 50-51 (2011).

22

Jan Moller, Gov. Jindal’s Plan To Sell State Prisons Is Killed by House Committee, TIMES-PICAYUNE, June 6, 2011; Julie Carr
Smyth, Associated Press, Ohio 1st in US To Sell Prison to Private Company, SF GATE, Sept. 1, 2011.

23

Jan Moller, Gov. Jindal’s Plan To Sell State Prisons Is Killed by House Committee, TIMES-PICAYUNE, June 6, 2011; see also
generally AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, SMART REFORM IS POSSIBLE: STATES REDUCING INCARCERATION RATES AND COSTS WHILE
PROTECTING COMMUNITIES 54-55 (2011).

24

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT SALARIES AND EXPENSES FISCAL YEAR 2012
CONGRESSIONAL JUSTIFICATION 57 (2011); Susan Carroll, ICE Upgrades Standards for Detention Facilities, HOUSTON CHRON.,
Sept. 28, 2010.

25

La Opinión, ICE Builds More Immigration Detention Centers, NEW AMERICA MEDIA, June 28, 2011; Jason Buch, New
Detention Center in Karnes County, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, Dec. 9, 2010; Sam Dolnick, Reversing Course, Officials
in New Jersey Cancel One-Bid Immigrant Jail Deal, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 15, 2011; Travis Pillow, Corrections Corporation
Partnering with Broward Town To Compete For Immigration Detention Facility, FLORIDA INDEPENDENT, May 27, 2011.

26

Sam Dolnick, Reversing Course, Officials in New Jersey Cancel One-Bid Immigrant Jail Deal, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 15, 2011.

27

See infra at 23-28.

28

Security Assessment, ASP-Kingman August 4-6, 2010, Memorandum from Therese Schroeder, Security Operations
Administrator, to Charles L. Ryan, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections 3, 9 (Aug. 18, 2010) (on file with
author).

29

TEXAS YOUTH COMMISSION, COKE COUNTY JUVENILE JUSTICE CENTER AUDIT 7 (2007).

30

Henry K. Lee, California Convicts Brawl in Oklahoma Prison, SAN FRANCISCO CHRON., Oct. 13, 2011.

31

Pollard v. The GEO Group, Inc., 629 F.3d 843 (9th Cir. 2010), cert. granted, 131 S.Ct. 2449 (May 16, 2011) (No. 10-1104).

32

Mixed Verdict for Disgraced Judge, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 18, 2011; Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District
of Pennsylvania, Former Pennsylvania County President Judge and Juvenile Judge Mark Ciavarella Sentenced to 28
Years in Prison (Aug. 11, 2011) (on file with author). Ciavarella has appealed the convictions. Dave Janoski, Ciavarella
Moved to Federal Prison in Illinois, TIMES-TRIBUNE, Sept. 13, 2011.

33

Of course, not every private prison company has been found to engage in each of these tactics.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 44

34

HEATHER C. WEST, ET AL., UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS, PRISONERS IN 2009, 34 App. Table 20
(2010). This figure refers to convicted prisoners serving sentences and generally excludes pretrial detainees held in
jails.

35

DETENTION WATCH NETWORK, THE INFLUENCE OF THE PRIVATE PRISON INDUSTRY IN IMMIGRATION DETENTION, www.
detentionwatchnetwork.org/privateprisons.

36

CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, 2010 LETTER TO SHAREHOLDERS 1 (2010) ($1.7 billion in 2010 CCA revenue); THE GEO
GROUP, INC., 2010 ANNUAL REPORT 3, 20 (2010) ($1.27 billion in 2009 GEO revenue).

37

MICHAEL IGNATIEFF, A JUST MEASURE OF PAIN: THE PENITENTIARY IN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, 1750-1850, 30 (1978).

38

Id. at 52.

39

JOHN W. ROBERTS, REFORM AND RETRIBUTION: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF AMERICAN PRISONS 17 (1997).

40

Id.

41

MICHELLE ALEXANDER, THE NEW JIM CROW: MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS 31 (2010); see also BRIGETTE SARABI &
EDWIN BENDER, WESTERN PRISON PROJECT AND WESTERN STATES CENTER, THE PRISON PAYOFF: THE ROLE OF POLITICS AND PRIVATE PRISONS
IN THE INCARCERATION BOOM 1 (2000).

42

MICHELLE ALEXANDER, THE NEW JIM CROW: MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS 31 (2010).

43

JOHN W. ROBERTS, REFORM AND RETRIBUTION: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF AMERICAN PRISONS 82 (1997).

44

ABT ASSOCIATES INC., PRIVATE PRISONS IN THE UNITED STATES: AN ASSESSMENT OF CURRENT PRACTICE 4 (1998).

45

Id. at 5 (stating that the federal government began contracting out immigration detention facilities to private firms
in 1979, which “provided the seedbed for the contemporary private imprisonment industry in the United States”);
Alex Friedmann, The Societal Impact of the Prison Industrial Complex, or Incarceration for Fun and Profit … Mostly Profit
(forthcoming chapter in AND THE CRIMINALS WITH HIM: ESSAYS IN HONOR OF WILL D. CAMPBELL AND ALL THE RECONCILED (ED. RICHARD
C. GOODE)).

46

See Ewing v. California, 538 U.S. 11 (2003).

47

See TODD R. CLEAR, IMPRISONING COMMUNITIES: HOW MASS INCARCERATION MAKES DISADVANTAGED NEIGHBORHOODS WORSE 7 (2007).

48

Id. at 6-7.

49

PUBLIC SAFETY PERFORMANCE, PUBLIC SAFETY, PUBLIC SPENDING: FORECASTING AMERICA’S PRISON POPULATION 2007-2011, 11 (revised
June 2007).

50

BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS, PRISON POPULATION COUNTS, http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=131 (last viewed Jul.
24, 2011).

51

SUZANNE M. KIRCHHOFF, CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF PRISON GROWTH (2010).

52

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS, CENSUS OF STATE AND FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES, 1995 iv
(1997). The figures in this paragraph include prisons that hold people who have been convicted. The figures generally
do not include pre-trial detainees held in jails or immigration detainees held in immigration detention facilities.

53

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS, CENSUS OF STATE AND FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES, 1995 iv
(1997); HEATHER C. WEST, ET AL., UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS, PRISONERS IN 2009, 33 App.
Table 19 (2010).

54

CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, 2010 ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K 19-20 (2010) (emphasis removed); see also Judith
Greene, Banking on the Prison Boom, in PRISON PROFITEERS: WHO MAKES MONEY FROM MASS INCARCERATION 3 (Tara Herivel &
Paul Wright ed. 2007).

55

THE GEO GROUP, INC., FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED JANUARY 2, 2011, 33 (emphasis removed). The
private prison industry has denied claims that it is “motivated to take proactive steps in pursuing legislation to keep
their private facilities filled.” THE SENTENCING PROJECT, PRISON PRIVATIZATION AND THE USE OF INCARCERATION 4 (January 2002;
updated September 2004).

56

MICHELLE ALEXANDER, THE NEW JIM CROW: MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS 6-7 (2010); THE PEW CENTER ON THE
STATES, ONE IN 100: BEHIND BARS IN AMERICA 2008, 35 (2008); TODD R. CLEAR, IMPRISONING COMMUNITIES: HOW MASS INCARCERATION

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 45

MAKES DISADVANTAGED NEIGHBORHOODS WORSE 6-7, 9-10 (2007); Greg Bluestein, Associated Press, State Budget Crises Push
Sentencing Reforms, BOSTON GLOBE, Apr. 2, 2011; JUDITH GREENE & MARC MAUER, THE SENTENCING PROJECT, DOWNSCALING PRISONS:
LESSONS FROM FOUR STATES 1-2 (2010); AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, SMART REFORM IS POSSIBLE: STATES REDUCING INCARCERATION
RATES AND COSTS WHILE PROTECTING COMMUNITIES (2011).
57

THE GEO GROUP INC., HISTORIC MILESTONES, http://www.thegeogroupinc.com/history.asp (last viewed Oct. 11, 2011); ABT
ASSOCIATES INC, PRIVATE PRISONS IN THE UNITED STATES: AN ASSESSMENT OF CURRENT PRACTICE 5 (1998).

58

CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, 2010 LETTER TO SHAREHOLDERS 1 (2010) (($1.7 billion in 2010 CCA revenue); THE GEO
GROUP, INC., 2010 ANNUAL REPORT 3, 20 (2010) ($1.27 billion in 2009 GEO revenue).

59

Meredith Kolodner, Private Prisons Expect a Boom; Immigration Enforcement to Benefit Detention Companies, N.Y. TIMES,
Jul. 19, 2006.

60

The vast majority of this taxpayer money no doubt came from taxpayers in the United States. CCA does not operate
prisons outside of the United States; GEO operates a limited number of prisons in South Africa, the United Kingdom,
and Australia, but a far greater number in the United States. CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, CCA FACILITY LOCATIONS,
http://www.cca.com/facilities (last visited Oct. 6, 2011); THE GEO GROUP, GLOBAL OPERATIONS, http://www.thegeogroupinc.
com/locations.asp (last visited Oct. 6, 2011).

61

MORNINGSTAR, CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, KEY EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION, http://insiders.morningstar.com (under
“search insiders by ticker,” search for “CXW”); MORNINGSTAR, THE GEO GROUP, INC., KEY EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION, http://
insiders.morningstar.com (under “search insiders by ticker,” search for “GEO”).

62

AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL, HISTORY, http://www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=History&Template=/CM/
HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=1364 (last viewed July 8, 2011).

63

Laura Sullivan, Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Oct. 29, 2010 (“Videos and photos from
one recent ALEC conference show banquets, open bar parties and baseball games – all hosted by corporations. Tax
records show the group spent $138,000 to keep legislators’ children entertained for the week.”). See also AMERICAN
ASSOCIATION FOR JUSTICE, ALEC: GHOSTWRITING THE LAW FOR CORPORATE AMERICA 4 (2010).

64

American Legislative Exchange Council, Legislative Membership, (last viewed Jul. 7, 2011), http://www.alec.org/AM/
Template.cfm?Section=Legislative_Membership&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=15995.

65

Laura Sullivan, Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Oct. 29, 2010.

66

Id. (“Here’s how it works: ALEC is a membership organization. State legislators pay $50 a year to belong. Private
corporations can join, too … [Some] pay tens of thousands of dollars a year. Tax records show that corporations
collectively pay as much as $6 million a year.”); AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR JUSTICE, ALEC: GHOSTWRITING THE LAW FOR CORPORATE
AMERICA 5 (2010); Karen Olsson, Ghostwriting the Law: A Little-Known Corporate Lobby is Drafting Business-Friendly Bills
for State Legislators Across the Country, MOTHER JONES, Sept.-Oct. 2002.

67

Dennis Bartlett, American Legislative Exchange Council, 1997, quoted in DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE & NATURAL RESOURCES
DEFENSE COUNCIL, CORPORATE AMERICA’S TROJAN HORSE IN THE STATES: THE STORY BEHIND THE AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL 8
(2002).

68

Karen Olsson, Ghostwriting the Law: A Little-Known Corporate Lobby is Drafting Business-Friendly Bills for State
Legislators Across the Country, MOTHER JONES, Sept.-Oct. 2002; Laura Sullivan, Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny,
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Oct. 29, 2010.

69

Bob Ortega, Political Ties Give Leverage to CCA, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Sept. 4, 2011; Karen Olsson, Ghostwriting the Law:
A Little-Known Corporate Lobby is Drafting Business-Friendly Bills for State Legislators Across the Country, MOTHER
JONES, Sept.-Oct. 2002; Beau Hodai, Corporate Con Game: How the Private prison Industry Helped Shape Arizona’s AntiImmigrant Law, IN THESE TIMES, June 21, 2010; JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE, GAMING THE SYSTEM: HOW THE POLITICAL STRATEGIES OF
PRIVATE PRISON COMPANIES PROMOTE INEFFECTIVE INCARCERATION POLICIES 29 (2011); In the Public Interest, Private Prisons vs.
the Public Interest, (last viewed Oct. 7, 2011); http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6488/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_
blast_KEY=1161818; see also generally Mike Elk & Bob Sloan, The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor, THE NATION,
Aug. 1, 2011.

70

BRIGETTE SARABI & EDWIN BENDER, WESTERN PRISON PROJECT &WESTERN STATES CENTER, THE PRISON PAYOFF: THE ROLE OF POLITICS AND
PRIVATE PRISONS IN THE INCARCERATION BOOM 4 (2000).

71

Michael Hotra, Getting Tough Works: Old Strategies Are the Weapons in the New War on Crime, AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE
EXCHANGE COUNCIL, Oct. 9, 1996, at 8.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 46

72

THE SENTENCING PROJECT, PRISON PRIVATIZATION AND THE USE OF INCARCERATION 4 (2004).

73

Bob Ortega, Political Ties Give Leverage to CCA, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Sept. 4, 2011.

74

Id.; see also Karen Olsson, Ghostwriting the Law: A Little-Known Corporate Lobby is Drafting Business-Friendly Bills for
State Legislators Across the Country, MOTHER JONES, Sept.-Oct. 2002.

75

THE SENTENCING PROJECT, PRISON PRIVATIZATION AND THE USE OF INCARCERATION 5 (2004).

76

AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL, HISTORY, http://www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=History&Template=/CM/
HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=1364 (last viewed July 8, 2011) (emphasis added).

77

AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL, VOLUME I: SOURCEBOOK OF AMERICAN STATE LEGISLATION 1995, at 144 (1995) (emphasis
added).

78

Id. at 145.

79

BRIGETTE SARABI & EDWIN BENDER, WESTERN PRISON PROJECT &WESTERN STATES CENTER, THE PRISON PAYOFF: THE ROLE OF POLITICS AND
PRIVATE PRISONS IN THE INCARCERATION BOOM 4 (2000).

80

Bob Ortega, Political Ties Give Leverage to CCA, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Sept. 4, 2011.

81

Detention Watch Network, The Influence of the Private Prison Industry in Immigration Detention, (last visited Oct. 7,
2011), http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/privateprisons).

82

CHAD C. HADDAL & ALISON SISKIN, CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, IMMIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION: CURRENT LEGISLATIVE ISSUES 12
(2010).

83

Id. at 11.

84

Id. at 12.

85

Judy Greene & Sunita Patel, The Immigrant Gold Rush: The Profit Motive Behind Immigration Detention (submitted
to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants). In another account of what appears to be the
same telephone call, the head of the company is reported as instead saying: “I think it’s clear that with the events of
September 11 there’s a heightened focus on detention, both on the borders and within the US. … So I would say the
events of September 11, um, let me back up. The federal business is the best business for us. It’s the most consistent
business for us, and the events of September 11 is increasing that level of business.” Prison Privitisation Report
International, No. 44, Nov. 2011, at 5-6 (on file with author).

86

CHAD C. HADDAL & ALISON SISKIN, CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, IMMIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION: CURRENT LEGISLATIVE ISSUES 12
(2010).

87

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, WHAT HAPPENS IN ARIZONA STAYS IN ARIZONA, http://www.aclu.org/what-happens-arizonastops-arizona (last visited Oct. 7, 2011); see also Daniel Gonzalez, Senate Bill 1070: One Year Later, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Apr.
23, 2011. A federal court in Arizona later ruled that much of SB 1070 is unconstitutional and enjoined enforcement
of the law, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed the ruling. AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – UPDATE
ON LEGAL CHALLENGES TO ARIZONA’S RACIAL PROFILING LAW (SB 1070), http://www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights-racial-justice/
frequently-asked-questions-update-legal-challenges-arizonas-racial-. (last viewed Oct. 3, 2011).

88

Seth Freed Wessler, Bills Modeled After Arizona’s SB 1070 Spread Through States, COLORLINES, Mar. 2, 2011.

89

Beau Hodai, Corporate Con Game: How the Private Prison Industry Helped Shape Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law, IN THESE
TIMES, June 21, 2010; see also Daniel Gonzalez, Senate Bill 1070: One Year Later, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Apr. 23, 2011.

90

Alia Beard Rau & Casey Newton, Sen. Russell Pearce: SB 1070 Story ‘A Lie,’ ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Oct. 29, 2010.

91

Laura Sullivan, Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Oct. 28, 2010; Nate Rau, Ariz.
Immigration Law Pushed for TN, THE TENNESSEAN, Dec. 5, 2010. But see Alia Beard Rau & Casey Newton, Sen. Russell
Pearce: SB 1070 Story ‘A Lie,’ ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Oct. 29, 2010.

92

Richard A. Oppel, Jr., Private Prisons Found To Offer Little in Savings, N.Y. TIMES, May 18, 2011 (“The conviction that
private prisons save money helped drive more than 30 states to turn to them for housing inmates … [M]any politicians
have promised to ease budget problems by trimming state agencies. Florida and Ohio are planning major shifts
toward private prisons, and Arizona is expected to sign deals doubling its private-inmate population”); D.M. Levine,
What’s Costlier Than A Government Run Prison? A Private One, CNN, Aug. 18, 2010 (“In recent years, the trend toward

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 47

privatization, both among state governments and at the federal level has been part of an attempt to address serious
budget troubles and crisis-level prison overcrowding by outsourcing more and more corrections operations to private
companies. The move has translated into big business for industry leaders like Corrections Corporation of America …
[and] The Geo Group …”); Scott Hiaasen, Effort to Privatize Florida Prisons Raises Questions of Cost, MIAMI HERALD, Apr.
24, 2011 (stating that further prison privatization in Florida “is needed, backers say, to rein in the prison system’s
budget – which totaled $2.3 billion last year – at a time of mammoth deficits.”).
93

CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, PARTNERING WITH CCA, http://www.cca.com/partnering-with-cca/ (last viewed Sept. 13,
2011).

94

The GEO Group, GEO Advantages, http://www.geogroup.com/benefitsAdvantages.asp (last viewed Sept. 13, 2011);
see also Emerald Companies, Correctional Management, http://www.emeraldcompanies.com/divisions/corr_mgmt.
htm (last viewed Oct. 13, 2011) (“Emerald Correctional Management … is dedicated to meeting the collective needs
of governmental public safety and criminal justice agencies (U.S. Marshal, ICE, BOP, state and county) in their
endeavors to deliver competent, cost-effective and secure correctional facilities management and financing.”)
(emphasis added); Management & Training Corporation, Corrections Overview, http://www.mtctrains.com/
corrections/corrections-overview (last viewed Oct. 13, 2011) (“MTC’s proven performance and high integrity provide
delivery of quality services to customers through innovation, adaptability and cost effectiveness.”) (emphasis added);
Bob Ortega, Arizona Prison Businesses Are Big Political Contributors, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Sept. 4, 2011; JAMES AUSTIN & GARRY
COVENTRY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, EMERGING ISSUES ON PRIVATIZED PRISONS 15 (2001) (“Representatives of privatesector firms assert that they can save taxpayers money by providing correctional services traditionally supplied by
government at less cost.”).

95

See infra at 23-31.

96

See, e.g., JUDITH GREENE & MARC MAUER, DOWNSCALING PRISONS: LESSONS FROM FOUR STATES 1-2 (2010); AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES
UNION, SMART REFORM IS POSSIBLE: STATES REDUCING INCARCERATION RATES AND COSTS WHILE PROTECTING COMMUNITIES 5-7 (2011).

97

CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, 2010 ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K 18, 20 (2010). For the full text of this paragraph,
which is excerpted above, see supra n.5.

98

STATE OF ARIZONA, OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL, REPORT NO. 10-08, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS-PRISON POPULATION GROWTH
19-20 (2010) (citing ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, FY 2009 OPERATING PER CAPITA COST REPORT: COST IDENTIFICATION AND
COMPARISON OF STATE AND PRIVATE CONTRACT BEDS (2010)).

99

Bob Ortega, Arizona To Expand Private Prisons, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Jul. 3, 2011.

100

See, e.g., LEONARD C. GILROY ET AL., REASON FOUND. & HOWARD JARVIS TAXPAYERS FOUND., PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS FOR
CORRECTIONS IN CALIFORNIA: BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN CRISIS AND REFORM (2010); see also Dina Perrone & Travis C. Pratt,
Comparing the Quality of Confinement and Cost-Effectiveness of Public Versus Private Prisons: What We Know, Why We
Do Not Know More, and Where To Go from Here, 83 PRISON J. 301, 315-16 (2003) (reviewing cost studies and stating,
“neither side of the correctional privatization debate should, at this time, be able to legitimately claim that the weight
of the empirical evidence is on their side.”).

101

STATE OF ARIZONA, OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL, REPORT NO. 10-08, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: PRISON POPULATION GROWTH 1920 (2010).

102

STATE OF HAWAII, THE AUDITOR GENERAL, REPORT NO. 10-10, MANAGEMENT AUDIT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY’S CONTRACTING
FOR PRISON BEDS AND SERVICES: A REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAI’I 16 (2010).

103

Memorandum from the Legal Review Comm. to the Corr. Facility Evaluation Task Force (Nov. 3, 2010) (emphasis
added) (on file with author).

104

GOV’T ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE, GAO-08-8, COST OF PRISONS: BUREAU OF PRISONS NEEDS BETTER DATA TO ASSESS ALTERNATIVES FOR
ACQUIRING LOW AND MINIMUM SECURITY FACILITIES 2, 4 (2007).

105

BRAD LUNDAHL ET AL., UTAH CRIMINAL JUSTICE CENTER, PRISON PRIVATIZATION: A META-ANALYSIS OF COST EFFECTIVENESS AND QUALITY OF
CONFINEMENT INDICATORS 20 (2007).

106

Final Declaratory and Injunctive Judgment at 6, Baiardi v. Tucker, No. 2011 CA 1838 (Fla. Cir. Ct. Sept. 30, 2011).

107

Id. at 4-5.

108

Mary Ellen Klas, Grand Jury Probes Panhandle Private Prison Deal, MIAMI HERALD, Oct. 9, 2011. For further discussions
of supposed cost savings, see Richard Culp, The Failed Promise of Prison Privatization, PRISON LEGAL NEWS, Oct. 2011, at

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 48

1, 8 (“The big promises of prison privatization – less cost, higher quality – have simply not materialized …. If a quarter
century of experience with prison privatization has not led to better quality and cost outcomes, it is time to take a
more sane approach.”); HARLEY G. LAPPIN ET AL., UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, EVALUATION OF THE TAFT DEMONSTRATION
PROJECT: PERFORMANCE OF A PRIVATE-SECTOR PRISON AND THE BOP 34 (2005) (“The evidence produced by the cost and quality
studies for [a federal prison] suggest that the cost of operating [the prison] was comparable whether [a private prison
company] operated the [the prison] or the BOP operated the prison.”); Richard A. Oppel, Jr., Private Prisons Found To
Offer Little in Savings, N.Y. TIMES, May 18, 2011.
109

See supra n.100.

110

Dara Kam, Ethics Board Fines UF Professor $20,000, SARASOTA HERALD-TRIB., Oct. 22, 1999. See also Andrew L. Spivak &
Susan F. Sharp, Inmate Recidivism as a Measure of Private Prison Performance, 54 CRIME & DELINQUENCY 482, 489 (2008);
Judith Greene, Bailing Out Private Jails, AM. PROSPECT, Sept. 9, 2001; KEVIN PRANIS, PRIVATE CORR. INST., COST-SAVING OR COSTSHIFTING: THE FISCAL IMPACT OF PRISON PRIVATIZATION IN AMERICA 8 (n.d.); PHILIP MATTERA ET AL., GRASSROOTS LEADERSHIP, CORRECTIONS
CORPORATION OF AMERICA: A CRITICAL LOOK AT ITS FIRST TWENTY YEARS 3 (2003); Editorial, Private Prison Problems, ST. PETERSBURG
TIMES, Oct. 27, 2000.

111

In re Charles W. Thomas, No. 99-21, (Fla. Ethics Comm. Oct. 21, 1999) (final order and pub. report).

112

THE GEO GROUP INC., COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT, http://www.thegeogroupinc.com/communityinvolvement.asp (last viewed
Sept. 13, 2011).

113

CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH WITH CCA, http://www.correctionscorp.
com/economic-development (last viewed Sept. 13, 2011).

114

Gregory Hooks et al., Revisiting the Impact of Prison Building on Job Growth: Education, Incarceration, and County-Level
Employment, 1976-2004, 91 SOCIAL SCIENCE Q. 228, 240 (2010).

115

Clayton Mosher, Gregory Hooks & Peter B. Wood, Don’t Build it Here: The Hype Versus the Reality of Prisons and Local
Employment in PRISON PROFITEERS: WHO MAKES MONEY FROM MASS INCARCERATION 90, 91-92 (Tara Herivel & Paul Wright eds.,
2007).

116

RYAN S. KING, MARC MAUER & TRACY HULING, THE SENTENCING PROJECT, BIG PRISONS, SMALL TOWNS: PRISON ECONOMICS IN RURAL
AMERICA 2 (2003).

117

PHILIP MATTERA & MAFRUZA KHAN, GOOD JOBS FIRST, JAIL BREAKS: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SUBSIDIES GIVEN TO PRIVATE PRISONS v
(2001); see also Tom Barry, A Death in Texas: Profits, Poverty, and Immigration Converge, BOSTON REV., Nov.-Dec. 2009.

118

PHILIP MATTERA & MAFRUZA KHAN, GOOD JOBS FIRST, JAIL BREAKS: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SUBSIDIES GIVEN TO PRIVATE PRISONS, v
(2001).

119

Tom Barry, A Death in Texas: Profits, Poverty, and Immigration Converge, BOSTON REV., Nov.-Dec. 2009; Eric Schlosser,
The Prison-Industrial Complex, THE ATLANTIC, Dec. 1998.

120

STATE OF ARIZONA, OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL, REPORT NO. 10-08, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: PRISON POPULATION GROWTH 20
(2010).

121

Leslie Berestein, Detention Dollars: Tougher Immigration Laws Turn the Ailing Private Prison Sector into a Revenue
Maker, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIB., May 4, 2008.

122

John Burnett, Private Prison Promises Leave Texas Towns in Trouble, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Mar. 28, 2011 (“The packages
look sweet. A town gets a new detention center without costing the taxpayers anything. The private operator finances,
constructs and operates an oversized facility. The contract inmates pay off the debt and generate extra revenue.
The economic model works fine until they can’t find inmates.”); Kyle Pope, Executives Dropped from Prison Project/
Pair Connected to Scandal in Texas, HOUSTON CHRON. Mar. 6, 1992; Kevin Pranis, Doing Borrowed Time: The High Cost of
Backdoor Prison Finance, in PRISON PROFITEERS: WHO MAKES MONEY FROM MASS INCARCERATION 36, 50-51 (Tara Herivel & Paul
Wright ed., 2007); Matthew Reichbach, Private Prison Developer Behind Montana Fiasco Involved in Construction of NM
Private Prisons, NEW MEXICO INDEP., Oct. 12, 2009; Will Swarts, Jail Bonds Can’t Bar Defaults, SMARTMONEY, Sept. 1, 2010.

123

Mike Stark, Detention Facility Would Offer Hardin 150 Jobs, BILLINGS GAZETTE, July 22, 2004; Ruffin Prevost, Bond Default
Could Hinder Future Projects, BILLINGS GAZETTE, Oct. 18, 2009.

124

Jennifer McKee, Empty Hardin Jail Puts New Director in Tough Spot, THE MISSOULIAN, Jan. 11, 2010.

125

Mike Stark, Detention Facility Would Offer Hardin 150 Jobs, BILLINGS GAZETTE, July 22, 2004.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 49

126

Ruffin Prevost, Bond Default Could Hinder Future Projects, BILLINGS GAZETTE, Oct. 18, 2009.

127

Jennifer McKee, Empty Hardin Jail Puts New Director in Tough Spot, THE MISSOULIAN, Jan. 11, 2010.

128

Matthew Brown, Montana Town Eager To Put Gitmo Inmates in Its Jail, DESERET NEWS, May 31, 2009.

129

Ruffin Prevost, Bond Default Could Hinder Future Projects, BILLINGS GAZETTE, Oct. 18, 2009; Sarah Gravlee, Hardin Jail
Then and Now – Financing, KULR-8 NEWS, Nov. 18, 2009.

130

Jennifer McKee, Empty Hardin Jail Puts New Director in Tough Spot, THE MISSOULIAN, Jan. 11, 2010.

131

Becky Shay, Jail Backers Rally Business Community, BILLINGS GAZETTE, Dec. 11, 2007.

132

Jennifer McKee & Matthew Brown, Hardin Agency Fixing Pipes in Jail, BILLINGS GAZETTE, June 24, 2010.

133

Lorna Thackeray, Producers Eye Empty Hardin Jail for Reality TV Show, BILLINGS GAZETTE, Jan. 13, 2011.

134

Media accounts refer variously to this group as “American Police Force” and “American Private Police Force.” This
report refers to the group as “American Police Force.”

135

Jennifer McKee, Empty Hardin Jail Puts New Director in Tough Spot, THE MISSOULIAN, Jan. 11, 2010.

136

Lorna Thackeray, Producers Eye Empty Hardin Jail for Reality TV Show, BILLINGS GAZETTE, Jan. 13, 2011.

137

Becky Shay, Hardin Agency’s Exec Put on Leave, BILLINGS GAZETTE, Sept. 16, 2009.

138

Jennifer McKee, Empty Hardin Jail Puts New Director in Tough Spot, THE MISSOULIAN, Jan. 11, 2010.

139

Matthew Brown, Company Run by Ex-con Drops Montana Jail Plan, SEATTLE TIMES, Oct. 9, 2009.

140

Matthew Brown, Security Firm’s Deal for Filling Empty Montana Jail Is Raising Questions, DESERET NEWS, Sept. 13, 2009.

141

Montana Town Wants Its Empty Jail to be the New Guantanamo Bay, FOX NEWS, Apr. 23, 2009; Editorial, After Guantanamo,
BANGOR DAILY NEWS, July 9, 2009.

142

Jennifer McKee, Two Rivers Board Considered Many Options for Hardin Jail, BILLINGS GAZETTE, Oct. 9, 2009.

143

Lorna Thackeray, Producers Eye Empty Hardin Jail for Reality TV Show, BILLINGS GAZETTE, Jan. 13, 2011.

144

Mike Stark, Detention Facility Would Offer Hardin 150 Jobs, BILLINGS GAZETTE, July 22, 2004.

145

CORPLAN CORRECTIONS, http://www.corplancorrections.com/ (last visited June 27, 2011).

146

Management & Training Corporation, MTC Keys to Success, http://www.mtctrains.com/corrections/mtc-keys-tosuccess (last visited Oct. 6, 2011).

147

THE GEO GROUP, CULTURE, http://www.thegeogroupinc.com/culture.asp (last visited Oct. 6 2011).

148

Corrections Corporation of America, Safety and Security with CCA, http://www.cca.com/facility-operations/security/
(last viewed Oct. 13, 2011).

149

See, e.g., SCOTT D. CAMP & DAWN M. DAGGETT, QUALITY OF OPERATIONS AT PRIVATE AND PUBLIC PRISONS: USING TRENDS IN INMATE
MISCONDUCT TO COMPARE PRISONS 26 (2005) (“The results demonstrated that the private prison did not perform as well as
the three comparison prisons in the public sector, on the whole. For certain measures, the performance of the private
prison was exemplary, as was noted for violent misconduct and security-related misconduct. For the other forms of
misconduct, the results were less favorable for the private prison.”); Dina Perrone & Travis C. Pratt, Comparing the
Quality of Confinement and Cost-Effectiveness of Public Versus Private Prisons: What We Know, Why We Do Not Know
More, and Where To Go from Here, 83 PRISON J. 301, 309 (2003) (summarizing prior studies comparing private and
governmental prisons and stating “[i]nconclusive results were also found in the domain of safety.”).

150

Curtis R. Blakely & Vic W. Bumphus, Private and Public Sector Prisons – A Comparison of Select Characteristics, 68 FED.
PROBATION 27, 30 (2004).

151

JAMES AUSTIN & GARRY COVENTRY, U.S. DEP’T OF JUSTICE, EMERGING ISSUES ON PRIVATIZED PRISONS 52 (2001). The study noted that
“[t]hese differences may be related to other factors such as reporting standards or the fact that correctional facilities
often experience management difficulties when they are newly opened,” but that “insufficient training for and lack of
qualified staff in key positions may also be a valid explanation for these differences.” Id.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 50

152

SCOTT D. CAMP AND GERALD G. GAES, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, GROWTH AND QUALITY OF U.S. PRIVATE PRISONS: EVIDENCE FROM A
NATIONAL SURVEY 9 (2001).

153

HARLEY G. LAPPIN ET AL., U.S. DEP’T OF JUSTICE, EVALUATION OF THE TAFT DEMONSTRATION PROJECT: PERFORMANCE OF A PRIVATE-SECTOR
PRISON AND THE BOP 47, 48 (2005).

154

Id at x.

155

Henry K. Lee, California Convicts Brawl in Oklahoma Prison, SAN FRANCISCO CHRON., Oct. 13, 2011.

156

Press Release, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Former T. Don Hutto Correction Center Employee Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights
Charges (Sept. 7, 2011) (on file with author).

157

Shannon Wolfson & Erin Cargile, Former Guard Takes Plea Deal for Abuse, KXAN, Nov. 9, 2010.

158

Complaint at 5, Doe v. Neveleff, No. 1:11-cv-00907 (W.D. Tex. Oct. 19, 2011).

159

Press Release, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Former Willacy Detention Contract Security Officer Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse of
a Female Detainee in Texas (Aug. 4, 2011) (on file with author).

160

Ian Urbina, Hawaii To Remove Inmates Over Abuse Charges, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 25, 2009.

161

Patsy R. Brumfield, Walnut Grove Called ‘The Depths of Hell,’ NEMS360.COM, May 17, 2011.

162

John Burnett, Town Relies on Troubled Youth Prison for Profits, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Mar. 25, 2011.

163

Id.

164

Id.

165

Complaint ¶ 2, C.B. v. Walnut Grove Correctional Authority, No. 3:10cv663 (S.D. Miss. Nov. 16, 2010).

166

Tracey Dalzell Walsh, Brutal Youth Jail Called a Private Gold Mine, COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE, Nov. 18, 2010.

167

Bob Campbell, Dead Man’s Family Seeks Answers in Wake of Prison Riots, MIDLAND REP.-TELEGRAM, June 17, 2009; Tom
Barry, A Death in Texas: Profits, Poverty, and Immigration Converge, BOSTON REV., Nov.-Dec. 2009; First Amended
Complaint ¶¶ 1-2, Galindo v. Reeves County, No. 3:10-cv-00454 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 8, 2011).

168

First Amended Complaint ¶ 5, Galindo v. Reeves County, No. 3:10-cv-00454 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 8, 2011).

169

Tom Barry, A Death in Texas: Profits, Poverty, and Immigration Converge, BOSTON REV., Nov.-Dec. 2009; First Amended
Complaint ¶¶ 1-2, Galindo v. Reeves County, No. 3:10-cv-00454 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 8, 2011).

170

First Amended Complaint ¶¶ 1, 136, 141, Galindo v. Reeves County, No. 3:10-cv-00454 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 8, 2011).

171

Forest Wilder, The Pecos Insurrection: How a Private Prison Pushed Immigrant Inmates to the Brink, TEX. OBSERVER, Oct. 7,
2009.

172

Letter from Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, to Jack Sullivan, County Commission Chairman (Mar. 6,
2003) (on file with author).

173

Editorial, Our View: Another Lesson from “Gladiator School,” IDAHO STATESMAN Oct. 11, 2011; Rebecca Boone, Idaho
Inmates Settle Lawsuit Over Prison Violence, OMAHA WORLD HERALD, Sept. 20, 2011.

174

Letter from Randy Blades, Warden, Idaho Department of Correction, to Phillip Valdez, Warden, Idaho Correctional
Center 1 (Aug. 28, 2008) (on file with author).

175

Amended Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief ¶¶ 1-2, Riggs v. Valdez No. 1:09-cv-0010-BLW
(D. Idaho Mar. 11, 2010).

176

Rebecca Boone, Prison Violence: At ‘Gladiator School,’ Help Never Comes, SALT LAKE TRIB., Dec. 10, 2010. The video is
available at http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2010/11/video_shows_idaho_prison_guard.php.

177

Settlement Agreement ¶¶ 2, 4, Kelly v. CCA, No. 1:11-cv-00185 (Sept. 16, 2011), available at http://www.acluidaho.org/
images/Settlement_Agreement.pdf; Rebecca Boone, Idaho Inmates Settle Lawsuit Over Prison Violence, OMAHA WORLD
HERALD, Sept. 20, 2011.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 51

178

DAVID SHICHOR, PUNISHMENT FOR PROFIT: PRIVATE PRISONS/PUBLIC CONCERNS 187 (1995); see also JAMES AUSTIN & GARRY COVENTRY,
U.S. DEP’T OF JUSTICE, EMERGING ISSUES ON PRIVATIZED PRISONS 17 (2001) (noting that “[c]ritics of prison privatization argue
that firms will cut corners, from construction materials to hiring inexperienced personnel, forsaking security and
quality of service in the process of making a profit … [O]ne of the central concerns raised by critics of correctional
privatization is that firms motivated by financial gain might make decisions that enhance profits at the expense
of the rights and well-being of inmates. History shows that privately operated prison facilities were plagued by
problems associated with the quest for higher earnings. The profit motive produced such abominable conditions and
exploitation of the inmates that public agencies were forced to assume responsibility.”) (citation omitted).

179

SCOTT D. CAMP AND GERALD G. GAES, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, GROWTH AND QUALITY OF U.S. PRIVATE PRISONS: EVIDENCE FROM A
NATIONAL SURVEY 3, 9 (2001).

180

Curtis R. Blakely & Vic W. Bumphus, Private and Public Sector Prisons – A Comparison of Select Characteristics, 68 FED.
PROBATION 27, 29 (2004).

181

Id. at 30.

182

SCOTT D. CAMP & GERALD G. GAES, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, GROWTH AND QUALITY OF U.S. PRIVATE PRISONS: EVIDENCE FROM A
NATIONAL SURVEY 16 (2001).

183

Id. at 18.

184

JJ Hensley et al., Arizona Prisoners’ Risk Ratings in Question, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Aug. 23, 2010; Jim Robbins, Arizona Prison
Escapee is Captured, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 9, 2010.

185

Jim Robbins, Arizona Prison Escapee is Captured, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 9, 2010; JJ Hensley and Ginger Rough, Kingman
Prison Still Under Scrutiny, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Jan. 30, 2011; Bob Ortega, Arizona Prison Oversight Lacking for Private
Facilities, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Aug. 7, 2011.

186

Jim Robbins, Arizona Prison Escapee is Captured, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 9, 2010.

187

JJ Hensley, Report Rips Private Ariz. Prison After Escape, U.S.A. TODAY, Aug. 20, 2010.

188

See JJ Hensley & Ginger Rough, Kingman Prison Still Under Scrutiny, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Jan. 30, 2011; Bob Ortega, Security
Lapses Found at All of Arizona’s Prisons, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Jun. 26, 2011.

189

JJ Hensley et al., Arizona Prisoners’ Risk Ratings in Question, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Aug. 23, 2010.

190

Security Assessment, ASP-Kingman August 4-6, 2010, Memorandum from Therese Schroeder, Security Operations
Administrator, to Charles L. Ryan, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections 9 (Aug. 18, 2010) (on file with author).

191

Id. at 8.

192

Id. at 9.

193

Id. at 20.

194

Id. at 3.

195

Id. at 4.

196

MANAGEMENT & TRAINING CORPORATION, AT-A-GLANCE CORRECTIONS FACTS (2011) (on file with author); MANAGEMENT & TRAINING
CORPORATION, CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES, http://www.mtctrains.com/locations/correctional-facilities (last visited Oct. 7,
2011); Bob Ortega, Arizona Prison Oversight Lacking for Private Facilities: State Weighs Expansion Even as Costs Run
High, ARIZ. REPUBLIC, Aug. 7, 2011.

197

DAVID SHICHOR, PUNISHMENT FOR PROFIT: PRIVATE PRISONS/PUBLIC CONCERNS 153 (1995).

198

Statements compiled by the Private Corrections Working Group Website, www.privateci.org/religion.html (last viewed
July 7, 2011) (source for all quotations from religious groups cited).

199

Andrew L. Spivak & Susan F. Sharp, Inmate Recidivism as a Measure of Private Prison Performance, 54 CRIME &
DELINQUENCY 503 (2008). Earlier studies of Florida prisons had found “some degree of support for a lower rate of
recidivism among private prison inmates.” Id. at 488-89.

200

Lindsey Davis et al., Pennsylvania Judge Convicted in Alleged ‘Kids for Cash’ Scheme, ABC NEWS, Feb. 21, 2011. The jury
acquitted Ciavarella of other counts, including bribery and extortion. Id.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 52

201

Id.

202

Trish Wilson, Luzerne County ‘Cash for Kids’ Defendants Finding Wheels of Justice Spin Slowly, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Jun.
27, 2010.

203

Dave Janoski, Ciavarella Moved to Federal Prison in Illinois, TIMES-TRIBUNE, Sept. 13, 2011.

204

Lindsey Davis et al., Pennsylvania Judge Convicted in Alleged ‘Kids for Cash’ Scheme, ABC News, Feb. 21, 2011.

205

Id.

206

Id.

207

Id.

208

Id.

209

Editorial, Shouldn’t Delay Justice, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Aug. 11, 2010.

210

Lindsey Davis et al., Pennsylvania Judge Convicted in Alleged ‘Kids for Cash’ Scheme, ABC News, Feb. 21, 2011.

211

In re Expungement of Juvenile Records and Vacatur of Luzerne County Juvenile Court Consent Decrees or Adjudications
from 2003-2008, No. 81 MM 2008, at *5-*6 (Pa. Oct. 29, 2009) (emphasis added).

212

Lisa Demer, Legislators Weigh Cost of Contractor Operating New Prison, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Feb. 10, 2010; Lisa
Demer, Senator Remembers Corruption Fighter Dee Hubbard, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Feb. 15, 2010.

213

Plea Agreement at 3-4, United States v. Weimar, No. 3:08-cr-00089 (D. Alaska Aug. 11, 2008).

214

Factual Basis for Plea at 3, United States v. Weimar, No. 3:08-cr-00089 (D. Alaska Aug. 11, 2008).

215

Lisa Demer & Richard Mauer, Businessman Weimar Paid Candidate To Push Private Prison, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Aug.
12, 2008.

216

Lisa Demer, Weimar Goes to Prison; Montana Spread for Sale, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Jan. 6, 2009.

217

Tom Kizzia, Push for Private Prison Was Downfall, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Aug. 12, 2008.

218

Id.

219

Factual Basis for Plea at 2, United States v. Weimar, No. 3:08-cr-00089 (D. Alaska Aug. 11, 2008).

220

Lisa Demer & Richard Mauer, Businessman Weimar Paid Candidate To Push Private Prison, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Aug.
12, 2008; Lisa Demer, Weimar Goes to Prison: Montana Spread for Sale, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Jan. 7, 2009; Richard
Mauer, Judge Calls Hearing for Flip-Flopping Stevens Trial Witness, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Nov. 26, 2008.

221

Lisa Demer, Weimar Sentenced to Six Months, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Nov. 13, 2008.

222

Lisa Demer & Richard Mauer, Businessman Weimar Paid Candidate To Push Private Prison, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Aug.
12, 2008.

223

Factual Basis for Plea at 3, United States v. Weimar, No. 3:08-cr-00089 (D. Alaska Aug. 11, 2008).

224

Sean Cockerham, Prison Costs Raise Concern, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, Mar. 15, 2009.

225

Bill Weimar Begins Six-Month Sentence, JUNEAU EMPIRE, Jan. 8, 2009.

226

STATE OF NEW MEXICO LEGISLATIVE FINANCE COMMITTEE, REVIEW OF PRIVATE PRISON CONTRACTS PENALTY ASSESSMENT (2010); Trip
Jennings, Sen. Smith: Williams’ Work for GEO Casts ‘Cloud’ over Decision Not to Fine Firms, NEW MEXICO INDEPENDENT,
Sept. 21, 2010.

227

Terry Frieden, Retiring Head of Federal Bureau of Prisons Apologizes for DUI Arrest, CNN, Mar. 30, 2011.

228

Corrections Corporation of America, CCA Welcomes New CCO, Harley G. Lappin, available at www.insidecca.com/
inside-cca/cca-welcomes-new-cco-harley-g-lappin (last viewed July 6, 2011).

229

Corrections Corporation of America, CCA Officers, http://www.cca.com/about/management-team/cca-officers/ (last
viewed Oct. 20, 2011).

230

Letter from John Gage, National President, American Federation of Government Employees, to Honorable Patrick
Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee (Nov. 16, 2010) (on file with author).

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 53

231

U.S. Marshals Service, Stacia A. Hylton, Director, http://www.usmarshals.gov/contacts/bio/hylton.htm (last viewed
Oct. 21, 2011).

232

Steve McGonigle, Fired TYC Monitors Had Worked for Facility’s Operator, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, Oct. 12, 2007.

233

Doug J. Swanson & Steve McGonigle, Seven TYC Workers Fired After Inmates Found Living in Filth, DALLAS MORNING NEWS,
Oct. 3, 2007.

234

Steve McGonigle, Fired TYC Monitors Had Worked for Facility’s Operator, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, Oct. 12, 2007.

235

Doug J. Swanson, TYC Investigates Staff for Ties to Jail Operator, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, Oct. 6, 2007.

236

Texas Youth Commission, Coke County Juvenile Justice Center Audit, at 4-7 (2007).

237

Id. at 8-9.

238

CHAD C. HADDAL & ALISON SISKIN, CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, IMMIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION: CURRENT LEGISLATIVE ISSUES
12 (2010) (immigration detainee numbers); HEATHER C. WEST, ET AL., UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, BUREAU OF
JUSTICE STATISTICS, PRISONERS IN 2009, at 2 (2010) (prisoner numbers); DETENTION WATCH NETWORK, THE INFLUENCE OF THE PRIVATE
PRISON INDUSTRY IN IMMIGRATION DETENTION (May 2011), available at http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/privateprisons
(lobbying).

239

DETENTION WATCH NETWORK, THE INFLUENCE OF THE PRIVATE PRISON INDUSTRY IN IMMIGRATION DETENTION (May 2011), http://www.
detentionwatchnetwork.org/privateprisons.

240

Center for Responsive Politics, Annual Lobbying by Corrections Corporation of America, www.opensecrets.org/lobby/
firmsum.php?id=D000021940&year=2010 (last viewed Sept. 16, 2011).

241

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE, GAMING THE SYSTEM 26 (June 2011).

242

Id. at 22.

243

National Institute on Money In State Politics, Client Summary: Corrections Corporation of America, http://www.
followthemoney.org/database/lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=100552&y=0 (last viewed July 6, 2011). Note that the number of
lobbyists listed above “may include the same lobbyist working in multiple states.” Id.

244

National Institute on Money In State Politics, Client Summary: GEO Group, http://www.followthemoney.org/database/
lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=100516&y=0 (last viewed Sept. 16, 2011). Note that the number of lobbyists listed above “may
include the same lobbyist working in multiple states.” Id.

245

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE, GAMING THE SYSTEM 16 (June 2011).

246

Id. at 20-21.

247

National Institute on Money In State Politics, Noteworthy Contributor Summary: Corrections Corp. of America, http://
www.followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=695&y=0 (last viewed Sept. 16, 2011); National Institute
on Money In State Politics, Noteworthy Contributor Summary: GEO Group, http://www.followthemoney.org/database/
topcontributor.phtml?u=1096&y=0 (last viewed Sept. 16, 2011).

248

National Institute on Money In State Politics, Noteworthy Contributor Summary: Corrections Corp. of America, http://
www.followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=695&y=0 (last viewed Sept. 16, 2011); National Institute
on Money In State Politics, Noteworthy Contributor Summary: GEO Group, http://www.followthemoney.org/database/
topcontributor.phtml?u=1096&y=0 (last viewed Sept. 16, 2011).

249

National Institute on Money In State Politics, Noteworthy Contributor Summary: GEO Group, http://www.
followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=1096&y=0 (last viewed Sept. 16, 2011).

250

Bob Ortega, Arizona To Expand Private Prisons, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Jul. 3, 2011.

251

Id.

252

OFFICE OF THE ARIZONA AUDITOR GENERAL, PRISON POPULATION GROWTH 19, 20 (2010) (citing Arizona Department of Corrections
analysis).

253

Bob Ortega, Arizona To Expand Private Prisons, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Jul. 3, 2011.

254

Id.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 54

255

Morgan Loew, Brewer Linked to Private Prisons Housing Illegal Immigrants, KPHO.com, Aug. 31, 2010 (updated Sept. 2,
2010).

256

Id.

257

E.g., Corrections Corporation of America, CCA’s 19th Annual Chairman’s Charity Golf Classic, Oct. 14, 2010, http://
www.correctionscorp.com/newsroom/news-releases/229/ (last viewed Sept. 21, 2011); Pen Pals: An Innovative Private
Program Teaming Rescued Dogs with Texas Inmates, 13 GEO WORLD No. 4, 2007, at 8 (reprinted from the Fort Worth StarTelegram).

258

Corrections Corporation of America, CCA Officers, www.correctionscorp.com/about/management-team/cca-officers/
(last viewed Sept. 21, 2011).

259

Management & Training Corporation, Leaders, www.mtctrains.com/about-mtc/leaders (last viewed by author Sept.
21, 2011).

260

Specifically, the author’s searches on CCA’s website for “gladiator,” “sexual abuse,” and “sexual assault” yielded no
relevant results. For a discussion of the sexual assault incidents and the prison dubbed the “Gladiator School,” see
supra at 24, 27.

261

The GEO Group, Media Contacts, available at www.thegeogroupinc.com/InfoforMedia.asp (last viewed Sept. 21, 2011).

262

Tom Barry, The Shadow Prison Industry and Its Government Enablers, available at www.cipamericas.org/archives/1995.

263

Specifically, federal entities that incarcerate people, such as the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Department of
Homeland Security, undoubtedly qualify as “agenc[ies]” under the FOIA; records in the custody of governmentally
operated facilities are therefore subject to FOIA requests, enforceable through litigation in federal court. 5 U.S.C.
§ 552(a)(3)(A) (“[E]ach agency, upon any request for records … shall make the records promptly available to any
person.”); Id. § 552(f)(1) (defining “agency” as “any executive department, military department, Government
corporation, Government controlled corporation, or other establishment in the executive branch of the Government
(including the Executive Office of the President), or any independent regulatory agency…”); Berry v. U.S. Dep’t of
Justice, 733 F.2d 1343, 1344 (9th Cir. 1984) (stating that documents in BOP’s possession are “agency records”). By
contrast, private entities, such as for-profit prison companies, do not qualify as “agenc[ies]” under the FOIA, and
therefore are exempt from the disclosure requirements of the statute. 5 U.S.C. § 552(f)(1).

264

Corrections Corporation of America, Schedule 14A, Proxy Statement to Section 14(a) of the Securities and Exchange
Act of 1934, at 29 (2007).

265

Id at 31.

266

Corrections Corporation of America, Form 10-Q for the Quarterly Period Ended June 30, 2007, at 40 (2007); see also
Geert De Lombaerde, Persistent Sisters Still at CCA’s Heels, NASHVILLE POST, Apr. 7, 2009.

267

Geert De Lombaerde, Persistent Sisters Still at CCA’s Heels, NASHVILLE POST, Apr. 7, 2009.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

| 55

www.aclu.org

The imprisonment of human beings at record levels is both a moral failure and
an economic one—especially at a time when more and more Americans are
struggling to make ends meet and when state governments confront enormous
fiscal crises. This report finds, however, that mass incarceration provides a
gigantic windfall for one special interest group—the private prison industry—
even as current incarceration levels harm the country as a whole. While the
nation’s unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom,
wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments,
communities, and taxpayers, the private prison industry reaps lucrative rewards.
As the public good suffers from mass incarceration, private prison companies
obtain more and more government dollars, and private prison executives at the
leading companies rake in enormous compensation packages, in some cases
totaling millions of dollars.

GAMING THE SYSTEM:
HOW THE POLITICAL STRATEGIES OF PRIVATE PRISON
COMPANIES PROMOTE INEFFECTIVE INCARCERATION POLICIES
JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE | JUNE 2011

Justice Policy Institute is a
national nonprofit
organization that changes the
conversation around justice
reform and advances policies
that promote well-being and
justice for all people and
communities.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION ...................................................................... 2
THE TRIANGLE OF PRIVATE PRISON POLITICAL
INFLUENCE ...................................................................... 3
THE PLAYERS: TWO COMPANIES ARE AT THE
CENTER OF PRIVATE PRISON POLITICAL INFLUENCE
.......................................................................................... 5
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA ............. 6
GEO GROUP (FORMERLY WACKENHUT
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION).................................... 7
THE STAKES: MORE PRISON MEANS MORE REVENUES
FOR PRIVATE PRISONS ......................................................... 9
MORE  PRISON….............................................................. 9
MORE  REVENUE… .........................................................12
BUT, STATE PRIVATE PRISON POPULATIONS ARE
FALLING. .........................................................................13
THE STRATEGIES: A THREE-PRONGED APPROACH TO
INFLUENCING POLICY, CREATING MORE
INCARCERATION, AND MAKING MORE MONEY ................15
STRATEGY 1: CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS ...............15
STRATEGY 2: LOBBYING ..............................................21
STRATEGY 3: RELATIONSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS 25

th

1012 14 Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005

LOSING THE GAME ...............................................................31

TEL (202) 558-7974

TAXPAYERS LOSE. ........................................................31

FAX (202) 558-7978

THE COMMUNITY LOSES. .............................................32
PRIVATE PRISON EMPLOYEES ....................................34

WWW.JUSTICEPOLICY.ORG

PEOPLE IN THE PRISONS .............................................35
RECOMMENDATIONS ...........................................................37

GAMING THE SYSTEM

2

PART 1

INTRODUCTION
At a time when many policymakers are looking at criminal and
juvenile justice reforms that would safely shrink the size of our prison
population, the existence of private prison companies creates a
countervailing interest in preserving the current approach to criminal
justice and increasing the use of incarceration. 1
Approximately 129,000 people were held in
While private prison companies may try to
privately managed correctional facilities in the
present themselves as just meeting existing
2
United States as of December 31, 2009; 16.4
“demand”  for  prison  beds  and  responding  to  
percent of federal and 6.8 percent of state
current  “market”  conditions,  in  fact  they  have  
populations were held in private facilities. Since
worked hard over the past decade to create
2000, private prisons have increased their share
markets for their product. As revenues of
of  the  “market”  substantially:  the  number  of  
private prison companies have grown over
people held in private federal facilities increased
the past decade, the companies have had
approximately 120 percent, while the number
more resources with which to build political
held in private state facilities increased
power, and they have used this power to
approximately 33 percent. During this same
promote policies that lead to higher rates of
period, the total number of people in prison
incarceration.
increased less than 16 percent. Meanwhile,
spending on corrections has increased 72
The pro-incarceration policies that private
percent since 1997, to $74 billion in 2007.3 The
prison companies promote do nothing to
two largest
The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the
private
relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and
prison
sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are
companies,
currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect
to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number
Corrections
of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing
Corporation
demand for correctional facilities to house them. Legislation has been proposed in
of America
numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent
(CCA) and
crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.
GEO Group,
Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on
combined
probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated.
had over
Similarly, reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce
$2.9 billion
crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring
incarceration at correctional facilities.
in revenue in
4
2010.
~ CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA 2010 ANNUAL REPORT

3

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE
building relationships, networks, and
associations. 5

improve communities or cut costs, and may
actually have the opposite effect. Policymakers
should be focused on long-term solutions to
improving public safety, saving money and
promoting healthy communities by looking at
ways to reduce the number of people in prison,
not increase them, and by finding ways to keep
people out of the justice system before they
become involved. Private prison companies are
in it for the money. Policymakers should be in it
for healthy, safe communities.

THE TRIANGLE OF PRIVATE
PRISON POLITICAL INFLUENCE
While there are many pieces of the for-profit
private prison industrial complex, this report
will focus on for-profit private prison
companies’  political  strategies  to  influence  
legislators responsible for criminal justice
policy and, in some cases, influence legislation
and policy, themselves. Therefore, any use of
the term private prison refers only to forprofit private corrections companies and
facilities.
For-profit private prison companies primarily
use three strategies to influence policy:
lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and

Over the years, these political strategies have
allowed private prison companies to promote
policies that lead to higher rates of
incarceration and thus greater profit margins
for their company. In particular, private
prison companies have had either influence
over or helped to draft model legislation such
as “three-strikes” and “truth-in-sentencing”
laws, both of which have driven up
incarceration rates and ultimately created
more opportunities for private prison
companies to bid on contracts to increase
revenues. The recent Supreme Court decision
in Citizens United vs. FEC further facilitates
this influence by allowing corporations to
engage freely in paid political speech such as
television and radio ads and programs.
As policymakers and the public are
increasingly coming to understand that
incarceration is not only breaking the bank,
but  it’s  also  not  making  us  safer,6 will this
shrink the influence of the private prison
companies? Or will they use their growing
financial muscle to consolidate and expand
into even more areas of the justice system?
Much will depend on the extent that people
understand the role for-profit private prison
companies have already played in raising
incarceration rates and harming people and
communities, and take steps to ensure that in
the future, community safety and well-being,
and not profits, drive our justice policies. One
thing is certain: in this political game, the
private prison industry will look out for their
own best interests.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

4

WHAT IS A FOR-PROFIT PRIVATE PRISON?
While the private sector provides services to correctional institutions including health care, education,
transportation and counseling, for the purpose of this report, a for-profit private prison is a facility
managed by a for-profit organization through a public-private partnership with a government contract.
Private prison companies contract with federal and state governments to either take over management of
a state-run facility or to house people in a privately constructed prison. Private prisons generally charge a
7
daily rate per person incarcerated to cover investment, operating costs, and turn a profit. This daily rate
varies depending upon facility, population and security level, but usually pays for correctional officers,
8
support staff, food services, programmatic costs and partial medical care among other services.

5

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

PART 2

THE PLAYERS: TWO COMPANIES ARE AT
THE CENTER OF PRIVATE PRISON
POLITICAL INFLUENCE
In 2011, the major players of the political game to sustain
incarceration are the Corrections Corporation of America and the
GEO Group, having recently acquired Cornell Companies in 2010.
These companies have the most to gain by influencing legislation
that could lead to more or less incarceration.
The involvement of the private sector in
public corrections dates back to the late 18th
century, when local jails were run by forprofit providers paid by local governments to
hold people awaiting trial.9 The shift from
private for-profit run jails to a governmentrun penitentiary system began with the first
U.S. state prison established in Philadelphia in
1790.10 Shortly after government assumed the
role of incarcerating people, private firms
began contracting with prisons for the use of
labor,11 as well as to provide medical, food
and a variety of other services.12
Correlating with the increased use of
incarceration, prison overcrowding, and rising
corrections costs, private sector involvement in
prisons moved from contracting of services to
complete management and operations of entire
prisons.13
The incarceration rate of people sentenced to
more than a year of prison more than tripled

over the past 30 years, growing from 139
people in prison per 100,000 in the general
population in 1980 to 502 per 100,000 in
2009.14 The number of people in state and
federal prisons alone increased 722 percent
since 1970 from 196,429 people to 1.6 million
people in 2009.15
The incarceration explosion created two
practical problems: where to put the
increasing number of people being sentenced
to prison and how to pay for it. In 1984,
Hamilton County, Tennessee and Bay County,
Florida were the first local governments in
modern times to enter into contracts with the
private sector for operating correctional
facilities.16 With the promise of comparable
corrections services at a greatly reduced cost,17
state, federal, and local governments have
increasingly contracted with the private sector
for the financing, design, construction,
management, and staffing of prisons, jails,
and other correctional facilities.18

GAMING THE SYSTEM

6

People incarcerated in state and federal prisons

The state and federal prison population increased 722 percent
between 1970 and 2009.
1,800,000

1,613,740

1,600,000
1,400,000
1,200,000
1,000,000
800,000
600,000
400,000

196,429

200,000
0

Sources: Heather C. West, William J. Sabol and Sarah J. Greenman, Prisoners in 2009 - Statistical Tables. Table 1 (Washington, D.C.:
Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010); Allen J. Beck and Paige M. Harrison, Prisoners 2000 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice
Statistics, 2001); Allen J. Beck and Darrell K. Gilliard, Prisoners 1994 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1995); Paige M.
Harrison, Prisoners in Custody of State or Federal Correctional Authorities, 1977-98 (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000);
Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online, Table 6.28.2006: Number and rate (per 100,000 resident population in each group) of
sentenced prisoners under jurisdiction of State and Federal correctional authorities on December 31.
www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t6282006.pdf

The basis for the belief that private prisons
would be more economical is that market
competition would drive down costs.19 And
since private firms must compete not only
with industry rivals, but also the government,
it was assumed  they’d  have increased
incentives to develop less expensive
corrections practices and streamlined
operations in order to win government
contracts.20 Despite no conclusive evidence in
the cost savings of private corrections,21 and
growing evidence of significant collateral
expenses borne by the public of incarcerating
people in private prisons,22 the trend of forprofit prison privatization continues.
Today, two companies own and/or operate
the majority of for-profit private prisons, with
a number of smaller companies running
facilities across the country.

CORRECTIONS
CORPORATION OF
AMERICA
Founded in 1983, the Corrections
Corporation of America (CCA) is the first
and largest private prison company in the
U.S.23 According  to  the  company’s  website,  
CCA specializes in owning, operating, and
managing prisons and other correctional
facilities. In 2010, CCA operated 66
correctional and detention facilities, 45 of
which they owned with contracts in 19 states,
the District of Columbia and with the three
federal detention agencies: Bureau of
Prisons, Immigration and Customs
Enforcement and the U.S. Marshal Service. 24
In 2010, CCA saw record revenue of $1.67
billion, up $46 million from 2009. 25 The
majority of that revenue (50 percent or $838.5
million) came from state contracts, with 13

7

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

percent ($214 million) from the
state of California;26 approximately
10,250 people from the state of
California are held in prisons run
by CCA.27 The other significant
portion of their revenue was from
federal contracts, which accounted
for 43 percent of revenue in 2010.

50 percent of CCA's revenue comes from
state contracts.
Bureau of
Prisons
15%

Other
7%

U.S.
Marshals
16%

States
50%

Immigration
Customs
Enforcement
12%
Source: Corrections Corporation of America, 2010 Annual Report
(Nashville, TN: Corrections Corporation of America, 2010).

CCA HAD POLITICAL CONNECTIONS FROM THE BEGINNING.
A prime example of the influence underscoring the private prison industry is the development of
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). CCA cofounder, Tom Beasley, then-chairman of the
Tennessee Republican Party, had served on a committee tasked with choosing a new state corrections
28
officer. Beasley’s   research   uncovered   a   system   plagued   by   overcrowding,   tight   budgets   and   high  
turnover, convincing him that with a few simple applications of business practices the corrections system
29
could be transformed from an inefficient bureaucracy to a profitable business. Joined by two friends,
Doctor Crants, a lawyer and MBA Harvard graduate and Don Hutto, who at the time was the president of
the American Correctional Association, CCA entered the market by attempting to take over the entire
30
Tennessee prison system. The  combination  of  Beasley’s  political  connections,  Crants’  business  savvy,  
and  Hutto’s  correctional  credentials allowed for easy access to the necessary contacts and investors to
launch  America’s  first  private  prison  company.    

GEO GROUP
(FORMERLY
WACKENHUT
CORRECTIONS
CORPORATION)
According to their website, the GEO Group is
a private corporation that specializes in
correctional and detention management,
community residential re-entry services and
behavioral and mental health services.31
Currently, GEO operates 118 correctional,
detention, and residential treatment facilities

encompassing approximately 80,600 beds in
the United States, Australia, South Africa, and
the United Kingdom.32 The U.S. Corrections
Business  Unit  is  the  company’s  founding  
operating unit and accounts for over 60
percent  of  GEO’s  total  annual  revenue.33
Founded in 1984 under the name Wackenhut
Corrections Corporation, the company
solidified its first contract, the Aurora ICE
Processing Center with the Bureau of
Immigration and Custody Enforcement, in
1987.34

GAMING THE SYSTEM
Wackenhut was acquired by Group 4
Falck (now G4S) in 2002, and a year later
repurchased all of its stock shares to
become an independent company. In 2003
Wackenhut Corrections Corporation
officially changed its name to The GEO
Group, Inc.35 As of 2010, GEO contracts
with 13 states, the Federal Bureau of
Prison, the U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement.36
In 2010, 66 percent ($842 million)  of  GEO’s  
$1.27 billion in revenue was from U.S.
corrections contracts.37 Of the $842 million
in revenue, 47 percent came from
corrections contracts with 11 states.38
On August 12, 2010 the GEO Group
acquired Cornell Companies—a for-profit
private prison company with revenues of
over $400 million in 200939—in a merger
estimated at $730 million.40 The acquisition of
Cornell by GEO signifies a change in the
landscape of the private prison industry with
the majority of private prisons now under the
management of either GEO or CCA.

The majority of GEO's corrections revenue
comes from state contracts.
Bureau of
Prisons
14%

U.S.
Marshals
19%

States
47%

Immigration
Customs
Enforcement
20%

Source: The GEO Group, 2010 Annual Report (Boca
Raton, FL: The GEO Group, 2011).

8

9

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

PART 3

THE STAKES: MORE PRISON MEANS MORE
REVENUES FOR PRIVATE PRISONS
Over the past 15 years, while the incarceration rate in the U.S. has
grown, it has been outpaced by the growth in the number of people
placed in private prisons.
Due to ineffective criminal justice policies
for private prison companies to implement
that promote incarceration over more
an aggressive, multipronged strategy to
effective alternatives, an increasing need for
ensure their growing revenues.
prison beds has resulted in more private
prison contracts and subsequently more
revenue for private prison companies as
Some of the most rapid increases in
states have less money to pay for the
incarceration occurred during the 1980s and
construction of their own prison beds. As a
1990s , in part fueled by a policy shift toward
result of this increasing trend of
“tough  on  crime”  measures  such  as  
incarceration, private prison companies have
mandatory  sentencing  and  “three  strikes”  
seen exponential growth in revenues,
laws,  “truth-in-sentencing”  laws  that  limit  
benefiting greatly
from more people
The number of people in private facilities grew between
being placed behind
2000 and 2008.
bars. However,
140,000
between 2008 and
State
120,000
2009 the number of
Federal
people in state prisons
100,000
declined for the first
80,000
time in 40 years.41
60,000
While the number of
people in federal
40,000
prisons continues to
20,000
rise, the decline in the
0
state prison
population—private
prison  companies’  
largest revenue
Source: Heather C. West, William J. Sabol and Sarah J. Greenman, Prisoners in 2009 Appendix table 19 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010).
stream—sets the stage
People in Private Prisons

MORE  PRISON…

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p09.pdf

Total People in Prison

Similar to the overall number of people in prison, the number of
people housed in private prisons has steadily increased over the
past decade.
1,800,000
129,336 140,000
1,600,000
1,400,000
1,200,000

1,613,740 120,000
1,078,542

100,000

1,000,000

80,000

800,000

60,000

600,000
400,000

40,000

35,567

20,000

200,000
0

-

Total Prison Population

10

Number of People in Private Prisons

GAMING THE SYSTEM

Private Prison Population

Sources: Allen J. Beck, Prisoners 1999 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000)
http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p99.pdf; Kathleen Maguire and Ann L. Pastore, eds. Sourcebook of Criminal Justice
Statistics 1995. Table 1.96: Private Correctional Facility Management Firms (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1996);
Heather C. West, William J. Sabol and Sarah J. Greenman, Prisoners in 2009 - Statistical Tables. Table 1 and Appendix Table 19
(Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010); Allen J. Beck and Paige M. Harrison, Prisoners in 2000 (Washington, D.C.:
Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001); Paige M. Harrison, Prisoners in Custody of State or Federal Correctional Authorities, 1977-98
(Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000); Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online, Table 6.28.2006: Number and
rate (per 100,000 resident population in each group) of sentenced prisoners under jurisdiction of State and Federal correctional authorities
on December 31. www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t6282006.pdf

parole eligibility and keep people in prison
longer,  and  the  “war  on  drugs.”  Such  policies  
have sent more people — especially people
convicted of drug offenses42 — to prison, and

keep them there longer, thus increasing the
total number of people in prison. Such
sentencing policies have been a primary
contributor to the number of people in
prison.43

Average annual change, 2000-2008

Over an 8-year span, federal prisons have
seen the largest average annual increase in
their private prison populations.
12%
10%

10%
8%
6%

5%
3.7%

4%
2%
0%
Total

Federal

State

Source: Heather C. West, Prison Inmates at Midyear 2009 - Table 11 (Washington,
D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010).
http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/pim09st.pdf

During the time that prison
populations grew, so, too, did the
number of people in private prisons.
By 1995 there were 36,567 people
housed in private prisons in the
U.S.,44 in 2000 that number climbed
to 87,369 and in 2009 there were
129,336 people housed in private
correctional facilities in the U.S.45

11

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

Number of people in private prisons by state.
Source: Heather C. West, William J. Sabol and Sarah J. Greenman, Prisoners in 2009 - Appendix table 20 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of
Justice Statistics, 2010). http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p09.pdf

In 2009, the majority of people in private
prisons were in state contracted facilities,
with 8 percent of the total state and federal
prison population in private prisons. Out of
the 129,336 people housed in private prisons
in 2009, 74 percent were within state
contracted facilities.46 The federal
government accounted for the remainder of
the private prison contracts – housing 34,087
people47 for the U.S. Marshals, Federal
Bureau of Prisons, and Immigration and
Customs Enforcement. The five states with
the highest number of people in private
prisons in 2009 were Texas, Florida, Arizona,
Oklahoma, and Mississippi – all of which
had over 5,000 people housed in private
prisons.

In the last decade, the federal government
has had the fastest growing number of
people in private prisons, largely due to
federal agencies contracting with private
prisons for immigration detention. Between
2000 and 2008, the largest annual percent
change in the private prison population was
from federally contracted private prisons,
potentially making the federal government a
more important source of revenue than states
for private prisons in years to come.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

12

Corrections Corporation of America revenues continue to increase.

Total Annual Revenue in Millions

$1,800
$1,541

$1,600

$1,629

$1,675

$1,403
$1,400
$1,126

$1,200
$1,000

$888

$910

$1,193

$1,256

$1,008

$800
$600
$400
$200
$0

Source: 2010 Annual Report (Nashville, TN: Corrections Corporation of America, 2010); 2006 Annual Report (Nashville, TN:
Corrections Corporation of America, 2007); 2002 Annual Report (Nashville, TN: Corrections Corporation of America, 2003).

MORE  REVENUE…
Steady increases in the number of people in
private prisons, especially those coming from
federally contracted beds, translate into
increased revenues for private prison
companies. Since private prison companies
are in the business to make money, policies
that maintain or increase incarceration boost
their revenues; from a business perspective,
the economic and social costs of mass
incarceration  are  “externalities”  that  aren’t  
figured into their corporate bottom line.

percent, with the portion of their revenue
coming from their U.S. corrections division
seeing a 87 percent increase – earning the
company $842 million in 2010.
Despite their increasing portfolios of federal
facilities, the largest portion of CCA and GEO
Group’s  contracts  are  still  with  state  
governments, which accounted for about half
of their revenues in 2009.49 About threequarters of the people held in private prisons
that year were under state custody, adding up
to 95,249 people.50 Therefore, state criminal
justice policies play a significant role in the
profitability of both companies.

Since securing their first contracts in the
1980s, private prison companies have
experienced over two decades of growth. In
2010 alone, GEO and CCA saw
Our industry benefits from significant economies of scale,
combined revenue of over $2.9
resulting in lower operating costs per inmate as occupancy
billion.48 Since 2001, CCA has
rates increase. We believe we have been successful in
seen an 88 percent increase in
increasing the number of residents in our care and continue
their revenue, consistently
to pursue a number of initiatives intended to further
earning over $1 billion
increase our occupancy and revenue. Our competitive
cost structure offers prospective customers a compelling
annually for the past eight
option for incarceration.
years. From 2002-2010,  GEO’s  
total revenue increased by 121

~ CCA 2010 ANNUAL REPORT

13

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

The GEO Group has seen increasing revenues in corrections the past six
years.

Total Annual Revnue in Millions

$1,400

$1,270
$1,141

$1,200

$1,043

$976

$1,000

$861

$800
$600

$711
$517
$451

$567
$483

2002

2003

$615

$613
$511

$842

$784

$629

$613
$473

$400
$200
$2004

2005
Total

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

U.S. Corrections

Source: The GEO Group, 2010 Annual Report (Boca Raton, FL: The GEO Group, 2011); The GEO Group, 2006 Annual Report
(Boca Raton, FL: The GEO Group, 2007); 2005 Annual Report (Boca Raton, FL: The GEO Group, 2006).

BUT, STATE PRIVATE
PRISON POPULATIONS
ARE FALLING.

It is hard to say exactly how much money states
and the federal government spend on private
prisons in a year, but an estimate based on the
average cost to incarcerate one person for one
day in 2008 ($78.88)54 sets the figure at
approximately $3.7 billion. At that rate, the loss
of 1,071 people in prison at the state level
translates to about $30 million in savings.

The trend of increasing incarceration and
revenues for private prison companies which
has existed over the last 15 years may be
changing. Recently, a number of states have
been working to reduce the number of people
Recognizing the opportunities behind
sentenced to prisons,51 resulting in 4,574 fewer
increasing federal incarceration and the
people in state prison - 1,071 of whom were
challenges around decreasing state
serving their time in private prisons.52 The
incarceration, private prison companies must
number of people in prison continued to rise in
work hard to expand or maintain their market
2009, in part, because more people are entering
share. At the same time that some states may
and staying in federal prisons, largely due to
be looking to close private facilities, others
increased penalties for drug law violations.
may continue to move people to private
Between 2008 and 2009, the number of people
facilities for a variety of reasons.55 Stricter
sentenced to a year in federal prison
increased by 5,553 people or 3 percent,
We believe the long-term growth opportunities of our
with the number of people in private,
business remain very attractive as insufficient bed
development by our customers should result in a
federal facilities, increasing by 925 people
return to the supply and demand imbalance that has
or 2.8 percent.53
been benefiting the private prison industry.
~ CCA 2010 ANNUAL REPORT

GAMING THE SYSTEM

14

Change in the number of people
sentenced to prison from 2008 to 2009

immigration laws and
While the number of people sentenced to state
enforcement increase the
prison fell between 2008 and 2009, federal
number of people in
numbers increased.
8000
federal detention facilities,
6000
and increases in the
925
number of offenses listed
4000
as federal crimes leads to
4628
2000
more people held in
0
federal prisons.56 While
State
Federal
private prison companies
-3503
-2000
may claim that changes in
-4000
criminal justice legislation
-1071
are  “outside  our  
-6000
Public
Private
control,”57 they are in fact
Source: Heather C. West, William J. Sabol, and Sarah J. Greenman, Prisoners in 2009 (Bureau
engaged in a number of
of Justice Statistics, Washington, DC: 2010). http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p09.pdf
activities aimed at
increasing their control of the market; this
includes applying political pressure to
lawmakers, working to influence elections,
and building relationships within agencies or
with government officials to directly
formulate policy.

15

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

PART 4

THE STRATEGIES: A THREE-PRONGED
APPROACH TO INFLUENCING POLICY,
CREATING MORE INCARCERATION, AND
MAKING MORE MONEY
Since private prison contracts are written by state and federa l
policymakers and overseen by state and federal agency
administrators, it is in the best interest of private prison companies
to build the connections needed to influence policies related to
incarceration.
In order to ensure that they have a stable or
increasing “market  share”  of  incarceration
(and therefore increasing revenue), private
prison companies engage in a political game
to influence policy and incarceration. Over the
last two decades private prison companies
have developed a three-pronged approach to
influence incarceration policy and secure
government contracts. Through campaign
contributions, lobbying and building
relationships and associations, private prison
companies engage in an aggressive political
strategy to influence criminal justice policies
in ways that lead to more people in prison
and more money in their pockets.

STRATEGY 1:
CAMPAIGN
CONTRIBUTIONS
As elected policymakers initiate or approve
decisions to enter into private prison

contracts, establishing positive connections to
politicians is an important business strategy
for private prison companies. By maintaining
contacts and favorable ties with policymakers,
private prison companies can attempt to
shape the debate around the privatization of
prisons and criminal justice policy. One way
to do that is to make direct, monetary
contributions to political campaigns for
elected officials and specific policies.

Where do the Big Private Prison
Companies Spend their Money?
Private prison companies, through their
Political Action Committees (PACs) and
contributions by their employees, give
millions of dollars to politicians at both the
state and federal level.58 Since 2000, the three
largest private prison companies—CCA, GEO

GAMING THE SYSTEM

16

Total Political Giving by CCA, GEO and
Cornell

State political giving by these private prison companies
and Cornell
has been increasing over the past five major election
i
Companies —have
cycles.
contributed
$2,500,000
$835,514 to federal
$2,223,941
candidates,
$2,000,000
including senators
and members of
$1,500,000
the House of
$840,885
$1,000,000
Representatives.59
Giving to state$500,000
level politicians
during the last
$0
five election cycles
was much higher:
$6,092,331.60 This
Source:  National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction &
likely reflects two management/for-profit  Contributions  to  All  Candidates  and  Committees,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
factors: that states www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=0&s=0&b[]=G7000
collectively
private prison companies are offering
continue to be their largest client, and that at
policymakers a way to transfer, rather than
the federal level, elected officials may be less
reduce, the number of people they lock up.65
involved in the decisions to award private
CCA gave $1 million in these three states
prison contracts than non-elected bureaucrats.
combined between 2003 and 2010, accounting
Contributions to state politicians have been
for two-thirds of its total giving in all states.66
increasing over the past five major election
GEO Group had a similar pattern, with more
cycles. For instance, 2010 marked the highest
than two-thirds of giving focused on
recorded year of state political giving by these
California, Florida, and New Mexico.67 These
private prison companies since 2000.61
contributions signify a concentrated effort to

These private prison companies tend to
concentrate their efforts in specific states,
particularly California, Florida, and to a lesser
degree, Georgia. Florida, the home of the GEO
Group, not only has the second highest
private prison population in the country,62 but
has budgetary mandates that certain prison
beds be privatized.63 Attention to California is
likely based on the state having the largest
incarcerated population, and the existence of a
U.S. Supreme Court-order to reduce its
overcrowded prison system by as many as
46,000 people over the next two years;64
Cornell Companies was bought by The GEO Group
in August of 2010. The impact of this merger on
campaign contributions and prison policy is yet to be
seen.
i

influence policy in those states.
With most states and the federal government
operating under record deficits and
decreasing budgets, private prison companies
have a growing desire to establish influential
connections with policymakers, with two
goals: pitching private prisons as a lower cost
alternative to building or maintaining state
facilities; and fighting policies that might
reduce the use of incarceration.

17

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

California
Florida
Georgia
Three-state TOTAL
Total in 27 states
Florida

State Campaign Contributions
Corrections Corporation of America (2003 to 2010)
State
Contributions
$459,150
$300,000
$241,750
$1,000,900
$1,552,350
GEO Group (2003 to 2010)
$1,455,609

California
New Mexico
Three-state TOTAL
Total in 23 states

$227,000
$220,150
$1,902,759
$2,400,679
Cornell Companies (2006 to 2009)

Georgia
Texas

$25,000
$24,000

Pennsylvania

$16,050

Three-state TOTAL

$65,050

Total in 6 states

$72,650

Source: National Institute on Money in State Politics,  “Lobbyist  Link  – Corrections  Corp  of  America,”  accessed  
May 3, 2011. www.followthemoney.org/database/lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=100552; National Institute on Money in
State Politics,  “Lobbyist  Link  – GEO  Group,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=100516&y=0; National Institute on Money in State
Politics,  “Lobbyist  Link  – Cornell  Companies,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=103304
Notes: For a better picture of contributions given by this client, see the Noteworthy Contributor on the Institute for
Money in State Politics website for Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group, and Cornell Companies.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

18

FOR PROFIT PRISONS AND THE DANGER OF CORRUPTION AND ABUSE
The extent to which corporate   campaign   contributions   influence   elected   officials’   decision-making is a
matter of much debate. But in one recent case, a private juvenile correctional facility crossed the line,
making outright payments to judges in a clear quid pro quo with tragic results.
In Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, two local private youth prisons made illegal payments to two judges
totaling  over  $2.6  million.  In  what  came  to  be  known  as  the  “kids  for  cash”  scandal,  the  Mid  Atlantic  Youth  
Service Corporation paid the judges for sentencing youth to confinement in their two private youth prisons.
It is estimated that over 5,000 children appeared before the two judges over the past decade, and half of
those who waived their right to counsel were sentenced to serve time in one of the private correctional
facilities. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, privately owned
i
corporations operate more than 50 percent of youth correctional facilities in the United States.
Over the years, media attention has brought to light allegations of child abuse, sexual assault, and neglect
regarding privately owned and operated youth correctional facilities. For instance, in 2003, the Department
of Justice concluded that the private prison company operating the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth
in Tallulah, Louisiana was unfit to manage the facility. Such allegations raise questions about the human
cost of privatization of prisons, especially when private prisons profit when more youth are incarcerated –
which research shows produces the worst outcomes for youth (and for public safety as well).
Sources:
Stephanie  Chen.  February  23,  2009.  “Pennsylvania  rocked  by  ‘jailing  kids  for  cash’  scandal.”  CNN  Justice.  
http://articles.cnn.com/2009-02-23/justice/pennsylvania.corrupt.judges_1_detention-judges-number-of-juvenileoffenders?_s=PM:CRIME
i
Private facilities amount to 56 percent of all entire correctional institutions for persons under the age of 20.
Department of Justice, Louisiana Juvenile Findings Letter 1. United States of Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.
www.justice.gov/crt/split/documents/lajuvfind1.php
Justice  Policy  Institute,  “Costs  of  Confinement”  (Washington,  D.C.:  2009).

Contribution Strategies
Private prison companies have
developed a strategic method of
political giving and are less
interested in political party,
values or philosophy than in
access to policymakers.68
According to the Institute on
Money in State Politics, private
prison companies support
incumbents who win elections,
regardless of party.69 Access to
power, clearly, is more important
than supporting particular
political beliefs.
Recent giving, when analyzed by
political party, reinforces the lack
of adherence to a political
ideology. Although on the
whole, most private prison

From 2003-2010, CCA, GEO, and
Cornell largely contributed to winning
campaigns.
Losers $266,867
(16%)

Winners $1,257,161
(75%)

Not up for
election $162,350
(10%)

Sources:  National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Corrections Corp of America –
Figure  C:  Contributions  to  Candidates  by  Election  Status  from  2003  to  2010,”  accessed  
May 3, 2011. www.followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=695&y=0;
National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “GEO  Group  – Figure C: Contributions to
Candidates  by  Election  Status  from  2003  to  2010,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=1096&y=0; National
Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Cornell  Companies  – Figure C: Contributions to
Candidates by  Election  Status  from  2003  to  2010,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=6448&y=0

19

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

Contributions to Federal Candidates

Hawai‘i Governor Linda
Lingle. Prior to 2009,
Hawai‘i  primarily  relied  on  
private prisons in the
$180,000
continental U.S. to help
$160,000
$140,000
manage their prison
$120,000
population. During
$100,000
Governor  Lingle’s  
$80,000
administration the number
$60,000
of people in private prisons
$40,000
grew 58 percent from 1,347
$20,000
$0
in 2002 to an all-time high
2000
2002
2004
2006
2008*
2010
of 2,129 in 2007.72 In 2004,
CCA– the largest
Democrats
Republicans
beneficiary  of  Hawai‘i’s  use  
Source:  Center  for  Responsive  Politics,  “Miscellaneous  Business:  PAC  Contributions  to  
of private prisons–
Federal Candidates – 2000, 2002, 2004,  2006,  2008,  2010,”  February  2011.  
contributed $6,000 to
www.opensecrets.org/pacs/industry.php?txt=N12&cycle=2010
Governor Lingle.73
company contributions have gone to
Interestingly,  CCA’s  
Republican candidates (67.2 percent), 2010
contribution, the maximum contribution limit
saw the majority of contributions from these
for a gubernatorial candidate,74 was given on
private prison companies going toward
an off election year – Lingle  wasn’t  up  for  refederal Democratic candidates (63.4 percent).70
election  until  2006.  CCA’s  contribution  to  
Governor Lingle’s  successful  reelection  bid
At the state level, both Democrats and third
came in the middle of the rapid increase of
party candidates have received a combined total
Hawai‘i’s  efforts  to  ship  people  to  private  
of over $2.4 million in contributions since 2000.
prisons on the “mainland.“ Although there is

Private prison companies give to federal candidates
from both parties.

In addition to mainly supporting winning
candidates over those from a particular
party, private prison companies are
strategic in the timing of giving to
campaigns. The pattern of giving shows
these companies tend to contribute early
and late in campaigns.71 By contributing
early and late in election cycles, private
prison companies are able to achieve two
goals: 1) solidifying a positive association
with the candidate early and 2)
reinforcing their connections to
candidates who will become
policymakers.
An example of CCA’s  strategic giving can
be seen in its contribution to former

While most state money goes to GOP
candidates, almost a third goes to
Democrats and almost 9% to ballot
measures.
Ballot
Measures
Third Party
8.7%
0.3%

Democrats
31.8%
Republicans
59.1%

Source:  National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  
construction & management/for-profit Contributions to All Candidates and
Committees,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=0&s=0&b[]=G7000

GAMING THE SYSTEM

20

In 2010, these private prison companies spent over
$2 million on state politics.

Gubernatorial
Candidates
16% ($347,388)

Party Committees
48% ($1,057,594)

Senate/House
Candidates
18% ($401,065

Ballot Measures
16% ($367,500)

Other Statewide
Office Candidates
2% ($46,400)
Court Candidates
>1% ($3,995)

Sources:  National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit Contributions to
All Candidates and Committees,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=0&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State Politics,
“Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit Contributions to Gubernatorial Candidates,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=G&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State Politics,
“Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit  Contributions  to  Senate  Candidates,”  accessed  May  3, 2011.
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=S&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State Politics,
“Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit  Contributions  to  House/Assembly  Candidates,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=H&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State Politics,
“Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit  Contributions  to  Other  Statewide  Candidates,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=O&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State Politics,
“Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit  Contributions  to  High  Court  Candidates,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=J&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State Politics,
“Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit  Contributions  to  Appellate  Court  Candidates,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=K&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State Politics,
“Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit  Contributions  to  Ballot  Measure  Committees,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=B&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State Politics,
“Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit  Contributions  to  Party  Committees,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=P&s=0&b[]=G7000

no clear  “quid  pro  quo” between  CCA’s  
contribution to Lingle and increased contracts,
the company did benefit greatly from the
Lingle  administration’s  increased  use  of  
exporting  people  in  prison  from  Hawai‘i  to  
their private prisons on the ”mainland.“ The
number of people in private prisons
continued to grow during the Lingle
administration, until reports of sexual abuse
and other abuse allegations of Hawaiians in
private prisons forced the administration to
start bringing women home in 2009.75

In addition, these private prison companies
have contributed over $600,000 to ballot
measure campaigns since 2000.76 Such a wide
range of state contributions by these
companies indicates the attempt to influence
both the public and policymaking debate
around criminal justice and the privatization
of prisons.
In 2010, the three largest private prison
companies spent $2,223,941 on state political
contributions with the majority ($1,057,594) of

21

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

REDUCING THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN PRISONS IN  HAWAI‘I:
COMMUNITY ALLIANCE ON PRISONS
Community Alliance on Prisons (CAP) works on a variety of issues related to criminal justice reform and
maintains a strong presence in the Hawai‘i Legislature and media.
CAP supported the effort to bring women home who were held on the continent in the Corrections
Corporation of America (CCA)-operated Otter Creek Correctional Center after Hawaiian officials
discovered that the women housed there were subjected to sexual abuse. CAP also is monitoring
Governor  Neil  Abercrombie’s  proposal  to  bring  home  men  currently  housed  in  another  CCA-owned facility
in Arizona. For the last several years, suspicious deaths and complaints regarding the ability of people in
the prison to participate in Native Hawaiian rituals have concerned advocates in Hawai‘i.
i

CAP has recently been advocating for the passage of a bill (SB106/HD141), which addresses the 2005
decision by the Department of Public Safety (PSD) to recalculate the sentences of all the people serving
multiple terms of imprisonment. Previously, unless otherwise specified by a judge, sentences were
concurrent. PSD, without approval from the judiciary or legislature, recalculated all concurrent sentences
to be consecutive, thus adding to the length of time that a person serves behind bars. Given that in 2005
around half of the people serving a sentence of a year or more were serving their sentences in a CCA
facility, such an extension of the length of confinement would be in the interest of CCA.
A previous bill had made legislation conform to the practice of giving concurrent sentences unless
otherwise specified, but it was prospective. The current bill would make the practice retroactive, potentially
reducing the number of people in prison, especially in CCA facilities.
For more information about the Community Alliance, please visit:
www.lifeofthelandhawaii.org/Community_Alliance_on_Prisons.html

money going to state party committees.77 Most
notable is that every possible avenue of
influence was covered in the contribution
period – from work on state ballot measures to
high court candidates. While the majority of
contributions in 2010 went to state party
committees over 30 percent of political
contributions went directly to candidates
running for various positions in state
government.78

STRATEGY 2:
LOBBYING
Lobbying efforts by companies, organizations,
and constituencies are a well documented
part of politics in the United States. Similar to
other industries, private prison companies
employ lobbying firms and lobbyists to
advocate for their business interests in
Congress and state legislatures. While giving

to political candidates must be coordinated
through employee contributions and PACs
and is governed by donation limits,
corporations can directly fund lobbyists
without any spending limitations to push
their business agenda. Since private prisons
make money from putting people behind
bars, their lobbying efforts focus on bills that
affect incarceration and law enforcement,
such as appropriations for corrections and
detention.
Limited information is available to the general
public regarding the paid lobbying efforts of
private prison companies, and when this
information is available it is often unclear how
the company lobbied on a particular piece of
legislation. The chart on page 23 highlights
CCA’s  2010  lobbying  efforts  on  federal  
legislation; lobbyists are not required to report
whether they supported or opposed the bills.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

22

A NEW WAY TO INFLUENCE CAMPAIGNS
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
On January 21, 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a challenge to a portion of the McCain-Feingold
Campaign Reform Act barring corporations from using their general treasury funds to participate in
i
independent election–season activities. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court
knocked down this restriction on corporate spending on political advertising, saying the use of their funds
for  such  actions  was  protected  under  the  First  Amendment’s  freedom  of  speech  provision. The ruling did
affirm however, the requirement that corporations making election-related speech must be clearly
identified as the author of such messaging.
The controversial 5-4 decision has been met with criticism largely concerning the effect of corporate
money in politics. Retired  Justice  Sandra  Day  O’Connor  stated  “no  state  can  possibly  benefit  from  having  
that   much   money   injected   into   a   political   campaign.”   Justice   O’Connor’s   concerns   also   extended   to   the  
justice system and the potential impact of the ruling on an independent judiciary. Considering 80 percent
of state court judges face elections at some point during their careers, the impact of corporate involvement
in the judicial election process is unclear. With the increased ability for corporations to be actively involved
in the political dialogue, it remains to be seen whether private prison corporations will use general funds
for independent campaign expenditures, but the Citizens United ruling certainly opens the door for them to
do so.
Sources
Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, No. 08-205, Supreme Court of the United States (2010). www.scotusblog.com/wpcontent/uploads/2010/01/citizens-opinion.pdf
i
This includes for-profit and non-profit corporations as well as unions.
Matthew Mosk,  “O’Connor  Calls  Citizens  United  Ruling  ‘A  Problem,’”  ABC  News,  26  January  2010.  
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/oconnor-citizens-united-ruling-problem/story?id=9668044

Knowing that private prison companies bring
in revenue from holding people in prison, it is
likely that their lobbying efforts contribute to
promoting the current approach to
incarceration, and decrease the impetus for
reform. By working to shape the debate on
penalties, sentencing, and privatization of
correctional services, private prison
companies can galvanize the support from
policymakers they need to secure private
prison contracts for correctional services. Over
the last decade, CCA, GEO and Cornell
Corrections spent, on average, hundreds of
thousands of dollars to employ lobbyists to
represent their business interests to federal
policymakers. Since 2003, CCA has spent
upwards of $900,000 annually on federal
lobbying.79 In addition to direct political
giving and work on model legislation,
companies like CCA and GEO continue to pay
lobbyists hundreds of thousands of dollars to
promote their business interest in Congress.

These three companies also hire lobbyists for
state legislation, as their clients are currently
primarily states. In Florida alone, these
companies utilized 30 lobbyists to advocate
for private prison contracts and policies to
promote the use of these prisons.80
Tracking state-level lobbying can prove
challenging, as private prison company
lobbyists often meet behind closed doors and
do not necessarily testify in public,81 and
reporting requirements vary by state. The
combined executive and legislative branch
lobbying reported for GEO in the state of
Florida from January 1 through March 31,
2011 ranged between $120,000 and $199,992,

23

JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

CCA LOBBIED ON SEVERAL PIECES OF FEDERAL LEGISLATION IN 2010.
Bill Number
H.R. 2450

Bill Title
Private Prison
Information Act
of 2009

S. 251

Safe Prisons
Communications
Act of 2009

S. 3607

Department of
Homeland
Security
Appropriations
Act, 2011

S. 3636

Commerce,
Justice, Science,
and Related
Agencies
Appropriations
Act, 2011
Military
Construction
and Veterans
Affairs and
Related
Agencies
Appropriations
Act, 2010

H.R. 3082

Bill Description
To require non-Federal prisons and
correctional facilities holding people in
federal custody under a contract with the
federal government to make the same
information available to the public that
Federal prisons and correctional facilities
are required to make available
Prohibit the provision of federal funds to
state and local governments for payment
of obligations, to prohibit the Board of
Governors of the Federal Reserve System
from financially assisting state and local
governments, and for other purposes
Appropriations for the Department of
Homeland Security for the fiscal year
ending September 30, 2011

Appropriations for the Departments of
Commerce and Justice, and Science, and
Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending
September 30, 2011
Making appropriations for military
construction, the Department of Veterans
Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal
year ending September 30, 2010, and for
other purposes.

Specific Issues Lobbied
All provisions

Outcome of Bill
Died in House subcommittee

All provisions

Passed Senate, died in House
subcommittee

FY2011 provisions and funding related
to Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE); provisions related
to ICE detention; FY2012 budget provisions and funding related to the
Office of Federal Detention Trustee and
ICE.
FY2011 provisions and funding related
to the Bureau of Prisons and the Office
of the Federal Detention; provisions
related to private prisons.

Continuing resolution for FY
2011 budget included 5.3%
increase in funding for the
Federal Detention Trustee,
while Department of Justice
generally had a 17% decrease
in funding.
Continuing resolution for FY
2011 budget included a 3.4%
increase for the Bureau of
Prisons, while the Department
of Justice generally had a 17%
decrease in funding.
Became Public Law No: 111322

FY2011 provisions and funding related
to the Bureau of Prisons, the Office of
the Federal Detention Trustee and ICE;
FY2012 budget -provisions and funding
related to the Office of Federal
Detention Trustee and ICE.

Sources:  Center  for  Responsive  Politics,  “Lobbying  Corrections  Corp  of  America  – Bills  2010,”  February  2011.  www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientbills.php?lname=Corrections+Corp+of+America&year=2010;  
Govtrack, “Federal  Legislation,”  May  2011.  www.govtrack.us/congress/legislation.xpd
Note: Blue rows are justice-related pieces of legislation. All bills were introduced in the 111th Congress.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

24

Total expeditures on federal lobbying by CCA, GEO and Cornell have
fluctuated over the past decade.

Total Lobbying Spending

$3,500,000
$3,000,000
$2,500,000
$2,000,000
$1,500,000
$1,000,000
$500,000
$-

CCA

GEO

Cornell

Sources:  Center  for  Responsive  Politics,  “Lobbying  Corrections  Corp  of  America  – Summary  2010,”  February  2011.  
www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?lname=Corrections+Corp+of+America&year=2010; Center for Responsive Politics,
“Lobbying  GEO  Group  – Summary  2010,”  February  2011.  
www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?lname=GEO+Group&year=2010;  Center  for  Responsive  Politics,  “Lobbying  Cornell  
Companies – Summary  2010,”  February  2011.  www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?lname=Cornell+Companies&year=2010

while  in  that  same  time  period,  CCA’s  
combined legislative and executive branch
lobbying ranged between $10,000 and
$29,998.82 That the private prison industry
sees lobbying as critical to its bottom line is
clear. Even in Montana, which has only 1.5
percent of the total population of people
under state jurisdiction held in private
prisons, CCA spend $36,666 in the off-year of
a biennial session cycle.83
While the broad scope of private prison
lobbying makes it too numerous to catalog,
below are a few examples that have garnered
media attention:
In 1996, three former lobbyists from
Wackenhut (now The GEO Group) sued
the Texas Department of Corrections,
alleging that agency officials pressured
Wackenhut to have them fired because
they were too successful at expanding

private prisons at a time when the
Department of Corrections did not want
private contracts.84
Due to lobbying largely led by the GEO
Group, the Florida state legislature
approved a budget deal that would
require privatizing all of the prisons in
South Florida – home to about one-fifth of
the statewide prison population of
101,000.85
Although there has been a lengthy
courtship by CCA of the town of Milo,
Maine to build a private prison, a CCA
lobbyist recently assured a legislative
panel that there had been no “quid pro
quo” involved. Currently Maine does not
house any of its prison population in
private facilities because Maine Law
forbids people under state custody from
being sent to private facilities.86

25 JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

Florida
Tennessee
Nevada
Three-state TOTAL
Total in 32 states
Florida

State Lobbying
Corrections Corporation of America (2003 to 2010)
State
Number of State Lobbyists
17
12
12
41
179
GEO GROUP (2003 to 2010)
13

Texas
California
Three-state TOTAL
Total in 16 states

8
7
28
63
Cornell Companies (2006 to 2009)

Illinois
Ohio

5
1

Alaska

1

Three-state TOTAL

7

Total in 4 states

8

Source:  National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Lobbyist  Link  – Corrections  Corp  of  America,”  accessed  
May 3, 2011. www.followthemoney.org/database/lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=100552; National Institute on Money in
State  Politics,  “Lobbyist  Link  – GEO  Group,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=100516&y=0; National Institute on Money in State
Politics,  “Lobbyist  Link  – Cornell  Companies,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=103304
Notes: Total # of lobbyists may include the same lobbyist working in multiple states. For a better picture of
contributions given by this client, see the Noteworthy Contributor on the Institute for Money in State Politics
website for Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group, and Cornell Companies.

STRATEGY 3:
RELATIONSHIPS AND
ASSOCIATIONS
Networks and relationships are immensely
important to all businesses. Organizational
theories about relationships and leadership
indicate that individual people influence the
operations and behavior of an organization

through prior relationships, associations,
experiences, and networks.87 In other words,
people bring with them the lens of previous
affiliations, and a sense of obligation to
represent their world view; they may also be
subject to pressure from previous professional
relations to act in ways that benefit these
relations.

GAMING THE SYSTEM
As government regulation impacts all
businesses, there is always a desire for
relationships with government officials. But
for private prison companies, whose profits
are almost completely dependent on public
policies and funding, their relationships with
those who can influence government
decision making are paramount. Private
prison companies have benefited from their
relationships with government officials as
evidenced by appointments of former

26

employees to key state and federal positions.
The relationship between government
officials and private prison companies has
been part of the fabric of the industry from
the start; Tom Beasley, one of the founders of
CCA, was a former government official in
Tennessee. The pervasiveness of these
connections is evidenced with these recent
examples:

AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK: TOTALING UP STATE LOBBYING EXPENDITURES
Each state has different laws around the disclosure of lobbying activities. Some states require
lobbyists to disclose the dollar amounts of lobbying contracts, either in exact figures or in ranges;
others just require lobbyists to identify tangible expenditures, such as meals   and   gifts.   Some   don’t  
require lobbyists to say what legislation they are being paid to try to influence, while others require
both the bill numbers and whether the lobbyists are in support of or opposition to the legislation.
To show the challenges facing  those  trying  to  “follow  the  money,”  below  is  one  example  of  one  lobbyist  
in New Mexico, the state with the highest percentage (43.3 percent) of people in prison being held in
private   facilities.   The   Secretary   of   State’s   website   allows   a   search   by   “Groups”   engaging   lobbyists;;  
both   CCA   and   Geo   Group   employ   lobbyists.   Judging   by   the   disclosure   reports,   CCA’s   principal  
lobbyist in 2010 and 2011 was Edwin T. Mahr. In his May 1, 2010 report, Mahr indicated spending on
meals and beverages in January and February of $1,938.22, including four dinners with named
elected   officials   and   $1,123.01   in   undisclosed   “lump   sum   expenditures   under   $75;;”   there   were   also  
expenditures  for  an  “HB100  Party”  and  the  “Senate  Demo  Caucus.”  In  2011,  Mahr  reported  10  dinners  
in January and February with individual legislators or committees totaling $2,033. In these reports,
Mahr was not required to report what legislation he was lobbying for, or the cost of his services.
Additionally, Mahr represented several other clients, and was not required   to   identify   which   client’s  
account paid for each dinner.
New Mexico also requires lobbyists to disclose their political contributions; Mahr made a $200
donation to the re-election campaign of Sen. Tim Eichenberg (D) on 4/25/2011, whose website reads,
“A  healthy,  robust  democracy  is  one  in  which  legislators  listen  to  and  are  beholden  solely  to  the  voters  
in their districts -- not   big   campaign   donors   and   lobbyists.”   Sen.   Eichenberg   is   a   member   of   the  
Judiciary Committee; two bills he sponsored but which died in committee, S.B. 453 and S.B. 519,
would  likely  have  resulted  in  longer  sentences  of  incarceration  and  greater  costs.    Mahr’s  January  15,  
2011 report of political contributions showed 68 donations totaling $20,700, all made either before May
th
15 or  after  October  1st;;  $6,500  of  these  were  noted  as  being  “CCA”  donations.
Sources:
Edwin T. Mahr, 2010 Lobbyist Reporting Form (Santa Fe, NM: New Mexico Secretary of State, April 2010).
http://www.sos.state.nm.us/2010LobbyistReports/MahrE512.pdf
Edwin T. Mahr, 2011 Lobbyist Reporting Form (Santa Fe, NM: New Mexico Secretary of State, January 2011).
http://www.sos.state.nm.us/2011LobbyistReports/MahrET.pdf
Edwin T. Mahr, 2011 Lobbyist Reporting Form (Santa Fe, NM: New Mexico Secretary of State, April 2011).
New  Mexico  Secretary  of  State,  “Lobbyist  Information,”  May  2011.  http://www.sos.state.nm.us/sos-Lobbyist.html
New  Mexico  State  Legislature,  “Bill  Locator,”  May  2011.  http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/_locatorcom.aspx?year=11
Tim  Eichenberg,  “Issues,”  May 2011. http://eichenbergfornewmexico.com/issues

27 JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

Stacia Hylton and The GEO Group:
President  Obama’s  appointed  Director  of  
the United States Marshals Service, Stacia
Hylton, has strong ties to the private
prison industry.88 In 2010, Hylton started
a private prison consulting firm, called
Hylton Kirk and Associates, while still
working at the Department of Justice as
the Federal Detention Trustee.89 After
retiring from the trustee position, Hylton
agreed to a consulting contract with The
GEO Group worth $112,500.90 As Director
of the U.S. Marshals, Hylton will head an
agency that has a long-standing
contractual relationship with The GEO
Group. In 2010, the U.S. Marshal’s  
accounted for 19 percent  of  GEO’s  
revenue.91 With Hylton in a position to
oversee government contracts with
private prisons, the ongoing influence of
private prison companies in the public
sphere is virtually guaranteed.
John Kasich, Lehman Brothers and CCA:
After serving 18 years in the U.S. House of
Representatives John Kasich retired in
2000 and took a managing director
position in Ohio with Lehman Brothers.92
Lehman Brothers has a long standing

history with private prison companies,
spending most of the late 1990s and 2000s
before their collapse underwriting bonds
and managing credit for both CCA and
Cornell.93 After winning the governorship
of Ohio in 2010, Kasich laid out his plans
for privatizing state prison operations
along with appointing a former CCA
employee to head the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction.94 Rounding
out  Kasich’s  connections  to  CCA  is  his  
close friend and former Congressional
chief of staff whose lobbying firm was
hired to represent CCA in January 2011.95
Former CCA Warden and Maine:
Governor Paul LePage appointed former
CCA Warden Joe Ponte as the
Commissioner of the Maine Department of
Corrections.96 While Maine currently does
not have any private prisons, according to
news reports, CCA has been in discussions
with the town of Milo for the past 3 years
over the possibility of building a $150
million facility.97 The appointment of Ponte
and the $25,000 in campaign contributions
LePage received from CCA raise concerns
of increased access for CCA to open private
prisons in Maine.98

TENNESSEANS AGAINST PURYEAR: A FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
In   2007,   President   George   W.   Bush   nominated   CCA’s   general   counsel,   Gustavus   Puryear   IV,   to   a  
lifetime appointment on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Alex Friedmann, currently of Prison Legal News, organized a campaign to prevent his appointment.
Beyond the concern that general counsel of CCA would be serving as judge in a district where CCA
Headquarters is also located, Puryear did not have the qualifications to hold the position. Among the
most prominent issues, Puryear lacked litigation and trial experience, received a comparatively low rating
in  the  American  Bar  Association’s  review  of  judicial  nominees,  had  close,  personal and professional ties
to Vice President Dick Cheney, and was involved in representation of people involved in the case of a
suspicious death of a woman held in a CCA facility.
In addition to compiling information about Puryear for the Senate Judiciary Committee tasked with
approving the appointment, Friedmann also organized other organizations, including Alliance for Justice,
Grassroots Leadership, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, among
others, to oppose his nomination. On January 2, 2009, the nomination was returned to the White House,
effectively denying Puryear the appointment.
Source:  Paul  Wright  and  others,  “Deconstructing  Gus:  A  Former  CCA  Prisoner  Takes  On,  and  Takes  Down,  CCA’s  Top  Lawyer,”  
Prison Legal News, March 2009. www.againstpuryear.org/plncoverstory.pdf

GAMING THE SYSTEM
Former New Mexico Secretary of
Corrections and GEO: Former New
Mexico Secretary of Corrections Joe
Williams was criticized in 2010 by a state
senator for not fining GEO and CCA for
contract violations. Prior to being
Secretary of Corrections, Williams had
served  as  a  warden  in  one  of  GEO’s  
correctional facilities. 99
For private prison companies, their
connections between the private and public
spheres has provided access to the people
with the most influence over policies that
drive incarceration rates. Certainly, the firms
might argue that this access is used primarily
to secure their market share. But with two
companies now controlling most of the
private prisons, it is clear that increasing the
size and scope of their business – is an ever
more important target.
Arguments that political contributions and
lobbying from private prison companies have
little influence over policymaking because
public facilities and agencies do their own
lobbying100 ignore the relationships that
influence policymaking and the appointment
of former private prison company officials
and friends.

Moving Policies Forward Through
“Friendly”  Associations
With former employees in positions within
state and federal administrations, private
prison companies have been able to gain
access to the executive branch. In order to
build relationships with the legislative branch,
these firms have become active members of
associations that include policymakers and
are involved in formulating new policies. In
this way, private prison companies have been
able to insert their own agenda into the
process of drafting new legislation that
strengthens their bottom line.

28

The American Legislative Exchange Council
(ALEC) is a Washington D.C.-based public
policy non-profit organization whose stated
mission is to advance conservative principles
of free markets, limited government and
individual liberty.101 It is a membership
organization comprised of state legislators,
business professionals, and private
corporations and seeks to build partnerships
between state legislators and the private
business sector. State legislators can join by
paying an annual $50 membership fee, while
private corporations such as Exxon Mobil,
Pfizer, and CCA pay tens of thousands of
dollars in dues annually.102 According to an
investigative  report  by  NPR,  ALEC’s  tax  
records show that corporations, collectively,
pay as much as $6 million a year for
membership and access to legislators at three
yearly conferences.103
In  1981,  ALEC‘s  chairman  was  selected  as  a  
member  of  President  Reagan’s  national  Task  
Force on Federalism,104 which encouraged
direct interaction between  ALEC’s  corporate  
members and administration officials.
Subsequently, in 1986, ALEC developed
internal Task Forces to respond to state
policy105 and develop model legislation. Now,
ALEC primarily functions to develop model
legislative proposals that advance free market
principles with a significant focus on
privatization.106
On average, ALEC drafts approximately 1,000
pieces of model legislation in a year, which
are then introduced  by  ALEC’s  legislative  
members.107 Annually, approximately 20
percent of its proposed legislation is passed
and enacted as laws in various states
throughout the country.108
Since its inception, ALEC has taken a strong
interest in public safety and criminal justice
policy, directing the Public Safety and
Elections Task Force (formerly the Criminal

29 JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

Justice and Homeland Security Task Force)
that  drafts  legislation  designed  to  “hold  
criminals accountable for their actions … and
provide swift and certain punishment for
their crimes – without adding more
government intrusions into law abiding
citizens’  lives.”109
Both CCA and GEO are members and
supporting contributors of ALEC, with both
companies represented on ALEC Task Forces.
CCA pays an additional annual membership
fee for a seat on the Public Safety Task Force,
110 having, at times co-chaired the Task Force.
111 Belonging to ALEC allows these companies
the opportunity to advocate for continued
reliance on incarceration, generally, and the
use of privately-run prisons, specifically, to
state policymakers and even provide the
legislation that meets that agenda.
Since the 1980s and 1990s, ALEC facilitated
the production of model bills focusing on
mandatory minimums, three strikes laws
(giving 25 years to life in prison for repeat
offenses),  and  “truth-in-sentencing”  
legislation (requiring people to serve most or
all of their time without chance for parole),112
all of which are significant contributors to the
dramatic increase in incarceration in the last
30 years.113 Although ALEC did not invent
these ideas, they did play a significant role in
helping to make them law in states.114

Being able, through ALEC, to have a hand in
drafting model legislation and promoting its
passage was a strategic move by the industry
that has to date helped ensure continued
profits.115 However, with all legislators—
including ALEC members—becoming
increasingly interested in reducing
correctional costs, there is no longer a
guarantee that ALEC will support policies
that result in higher rates of state
incarceration. In competition with private
prisons are other industries which are coming
up with solutions to reduce incarceration
costs that will benefit them. For instance, a
2007 brief by ALEC recommended releasing
people early from prison with conditional
release bonds, similar to bail bonds,
effectively setting up bonding companies as
private parole agencies.116 ALEC’s  workgroup  
platform states that legislators should “pass
legislation that expands community
supervision, reinvest in and create treatment
programs that work, and identify the
individual needs of offenders and address
those needs directly to help ensure successful
reentry into the community.”117 Interestingly,
much  of  CCA’s  lobbying  in  at  least  one  state  
(Montana) was directed toward making it
possible for a for-profit corporation such as
themselves to provide such services.118

GAMING THE SYSTEM

30

CCA AND THE IMMIGRATION DEBATE IN ARIZONA
In the spring of 2011, National Public Radio (NPR) investigated the role that CCA played in influencing
Arizona legislation that would increase one of its fastest growing revenue bases – immigration detention.
The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (SB 1070) increases police power to
question and detain anyone who cannot prove they are in the country legally. It was originally conceived
and drafted at an ALEC meeting that included officials from CCA. When the legislation was brought to the
Arizona statehouse floor as a bill in January 2010, 36 legislators co-sponsored it – two-thirds of whom
either attended the meeting where the bill was written or were members of ALEC. Over the next six
months,   30   of   the   bill’s   co-sponsors received campaign contributions from private prison lobbyists or
companies, including CCA and The GEO Group.
While CCA played a significant role in influencing state legislators, the connection between the private
prison  industry  and  SB  1070  did  not  end  on  the  statehouse  floor.  Two  of  Arizona  Governor  Jan  Brewer’s  
top advisers had direct ties to the private prison industry. Prior to joining the Brewer administration, two
senior advisors both worked as lobbyists with private prison companies as clients.
SB 1070 is expected to result in more people being placed into Immigration and Customs Enforcement
custody, increasing the need for immigration detention beds and the likelihood of private prison contracts.
The events surrounding the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona demonstrates the ability private prison
companies have to influence policymakers and legislation to increase profits. As GEO Group President
Wayne Calabrese put  it,  “…  [Now]  there’s  going  to  be  enhanced  opportunities  for  what  we  do.”
Since SB 1070 was signed into law in April 2010, five other state legislatures have introduced similar bills,
including HB 87 in Georgia which became law on May 13, 2011. In Tennessee, home to CCA, 2011
immigration legislation may be stalled due to projected increased costs to law enforcement.
Sources:
Laura  Sullivan,  “Prison  Economics  Help  Drive  Arizona  Immigration  Law,”  NPR, October 28, 2010.
www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130833741&ps=cprs;
Laura  Sullivan,  “Shaping  State  Laws  with  Little  Scrutiny,”  NPR, October 29, 2010.
www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130891396&ps=cprs
Nate  Rau,  “Tennessee  Efforts  to  Copy  Arizona  Immigration  Law  Bring  Fears,”  The Tennessean, December 5, 2010.
www.tennessean.com/article/20101205/NEWS01/12050356/TN+efforts+to+copy+Arizona+immigration+law+bring+fears
USA Today,  “Georgia  governor  signs  immigration  bill  into  law,”  May  14,  2011.  http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-05-13-georgiaimmigration-law_n.htm
Sam  Stockard,  “Carr’s  immigration  bills  appear  stalled,”  DJN.com, May 12, 2011.
http://www.dnj.com/article/20110512/NEWS05/105120317

31 JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

PART 5

LOSING THE GAME
When private prison companies are successful at the game of
political influence, their profits rise, benefitting their stockholders
and top management. However, growing evidence shows that many
people lose in this political game at the individual and community
levels.
The policies that private prison companies
promote negatively impact communities in
terms of costs and public safety. And the
increasing use of private prisons due to rising
incarceration rates negatively impacts private
prison employees. But the biggest losers in
this political game are the people who are
taken away from their families and
communities due to the policies private prison
companies promote to increase the number of
people going into prisons and the length of
time they spend behind bars.

TAXPAYERS LOSE
Policies that promote incarceration over more
effective public safety strategies cost more in
both the short and long term. The average cost
to incarcerate one person for one day in the
U.S. is $78.88.119 Thus, policies that increase
the length of time that someone is
incarcerated can have a significant fiscal
impact. For example, one study found that 10
years after California enacted its Three Strikes
law, the people added to the prison system
under the law between March 1994 and
September 2003 would cost taxpayers an
additional $10.5 billion in prison and jail
expenditures, including $6.2 billion in added

costs attributed to longer prison terms for
nonviolent offenses.120
Most people agree that they would pay
anything to be safe, but incarceration does not
satisfy this requirement. Some of the most
prominent criminologists in the country have
found that incarceration has minimal, if any
impact on public safety.121 And serving time
in prison has been shown to increase the risk
of future offending, not decrease it.122
Additionally, the trend of increasing prison
sentences does not improve public safety.
Data from the Department of Justice shows
little difference in recidivism rates for people
who spend short sentences in prison
compared to those who are in prison longer.123
Research shows that investing in services and
programs that keep people out of the justice
system is more effective at improving public
safety and promoting community well-being
than investing in law enforcement.124 Despite
evidence that investing in education and other
positive social institutions can improve public
safety and save states money, policymakers
continue to invest in incarceration.125 Over the
past  38  years  corrections’  spending has
increased to three times that of state spending
on education.126 This misallocation of funding

GAMING THE SYSTEM
has the potential for a significant negative
impact on the future of our youth and
communities.

THE COMMUNITY
LOSES
Communities primarily lose out when it
comes to private, for-profit prisons in two
ways: hidden costs and public safety. There
may appear to be an immediate cost savings
compared to that of facilities run by a
government, but long-term costs negate those
savings. In addition, the safety of
communities is compromised as increasing
incarceration rates are not shown to improve
public safety—and may even make it worse—
and adequate and appropriate reentry
services are not available to ensure that
people returning to the community are
prepared to succeed in terms of employment
and reintegration.

Private Prisons are not
Necessarily Cheaper than
Government Facilities.
Communities often build private prisons
because they are promised that they are
cheaper and more quickly constructed than
going through a typical governmental
approval process to site, fund, and build a
government-owned and operated prison.
However, hidden costs related to the actual
operation, lawsuits, and instances in which
private  prison  companies  don’t  fill  their  
facilities end up costing communities more
than anticipated.
Some  studies,  like  those  cited  on  CCA’s  
website, purport to bring significant savings
to communities.127 Those studies, however, do
not include assessments by the General
Accounting Office, the National Institute of
Justice, and the University of Utah, which find

32

little to no cost savings from private
prisons.128
A 2008 National Institute of Justice report
compared a Bureau of Prisons study129
with another study by Abt Associates on
the same facilities and found that Abt
Associates did not include overhead and
indirect costs, thus making private
facilities appear most cost effective.130
In 1996, the General Accounting Office
compared public and private prisons in
five states (Texas, California, Tennessee,
New Mexico, and Washington) and found
little difference in costs.131
A 2009 meta-analysis by researchers at the
University of Utah found minimal costsavings associated with prison
privatization and that any cost savings are
not guaranteed.132
An Arizona Department of Corrections
study looking at 2007 comparison costs
between state and private prisons, found
some savings for private medium security
facilities, but significant losses for
minimum security private prisons,
$954,069 and $1,297,308 respectively.133
Many studies, including those by the General
Accounting Office and National Institute of
Justice, cite the difficulty in comparing private
and public facilities. This is due to differences
in how each facility operates under separate
organizational styles, prison size, location,
types of people they house, and programs and
services provided,134 as well as inadequate
data and oversight of private facilities.135
Private prison firms generally only run
minimum- to medium-security facilities and
can choose not to house people with serious
medical or mental health issues.136 One
advocate  in  Hawai‘i  mentioned  that  
Corrections Corporation of America prefers
Native Hawaiians for their facilities in

33 JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

Arizona because they believe them to be
docile.137 By contrast, public facilities cannot
choose who they imprison and are responsible
for maintaining security and services
regardless of the cost.
Issues related to a lack of available medical
care, safety incidents in prisons, and poorly
trained staff also result in lawsuits. The state
or jurisdiction could be named in the suit in
addition to the private prison company, but in
some cases the state sues the private prison
company directly. Either way, taxpayers
shoulder the burden of the cost of damages
and legal fees, either directly or through
increased costs for future prison contracts.
Examples include:
In November 2008, the State of Texas
indicted The Geo Group in the death of
Gregorio de la Rosa, Jr.138 One of the
outcomes of the case was a $42.4 million
dollar civil suit settlement out of court.139
In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center
and the ACLU National Prison Project
filed a law suit against The GEO Group,
the prison administration, and state
officials for abuse, violence, sexual contact
with staff, and other conditions at the
Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility
in Mississippi.140
On March 11, 2011, the American Civil
Liberties Union filed a class action lawsuit
regarding the violent conditions inside the
Idaho Corrections Center, which became
known  as  “Gladiator  School.”  The  state
corrections agency was originally
implicated in the lawsuit as well as CCA
and facility staff. However, the ACLU
dropped the IDOC from the lawsuit to
save the state taxpayers money.141
The community can also be hurt if they decide
to pay for the construction of a private prison,
in anticipation of future ongoing contract

revenues. There is no guarantee that once a
private prison facility is built that it will be
filled and stay filled.
In 2000, the town of Littlefield, Texas
borrowed $10 million to build a prison
that would be operated by The GEO
Group and filled with contract beds from
Idaho and Wyoming. But, given ongoing
state budget crisis, Idaho removed all out
of state prison contracts and the prison is
now empty. GEO abandoned the prison
too, which is now for sale or contract. As
of early 2011, Littlefield was paying
$65,000 per month against the original
loan for construction.142
In Hardin, Montana the city entered into a
deal with a group of private investors to
finance the construction of a private
prison in 2006.143 The idea behind footing
the bill for the prison was that opening
such a facility would bring jobs and
revenue to the small town of 3,600 people.
However, since construction was
completed in 2007 the facility has
remained vacant, leading to a technical
default on $27.4 million in revenue bonds,
further  devastating  the  town’s  economic  
development prospects.144

Private Prisons do not Improve
Public Safety.
Non-monetary costs to taxpayers for private
prisons are difficult, if not impossible, to
capture. For instance, cost cutting techniques
create safety concerns both for the people in
the facility, as well as after a person is
released.145
By 2008 there were only four known academic
studies attempting to compare public and
private prison recidivism rates.146 At best, the
most recent found no empirical evidence that
private prisons reduce recidivism better than
public prisons.147 At worst, holding people in

GAMING THE SYSTEM
private prisons far from home, like the in case
of  the  1,500  people  from  Hawai’i  held  in  
Arizona, does little to ensure their success
upon release from prison.
While the overall lack of research148
measuring recidivism rates for people serving
time in private prisons makes it difficult to
draw any substantial comparative
conclusions,149 it can be reasoned that without
the same types and levels of services as public
facilities that are intended to prevent returns
to prison upon release,150 recidivism may be
higher for private facilities than public. Given
that private prisons tend to hold people at
minimum and medium-security levels, most
of the people held in these facilities will be
released and many will need services to
succeed in the community.

PRIVATE PRISON
EMPLOYEES
People held in prison are the most vulnerable
to abuse and violence, but people who work
in private prisons are not immune from
injury. Poor training and other cost-saving
measures make the people who staff private
prisons losers in the political battle for private
prisons, too.

Training and Benefits
Private run facilities often provide less
training, pay substantially less, and have a
higher turnover rate of staff than most staterun public facilities.151 Private prisons often
hire correctional officers who have less
education and less training than those in
public facilities. By using cheap and less
skilled labor, private prisons are able to
further reduce their spending and increase
revenue. Most private prisons do not allow
the formation of correctional officer unions,
which helps to reduce the overall cost of

34

running a private prison,  but  limits  the  staff’s  
ability to negotiate pay, benefits, and proper
training. Although proponents of private
prisons argue that unions drive up prison
costs, they appear to offer a level of stability
and training that is not present in most
private prisons.152

Worker Safety
As a result of lower pay, less training and
higher staff turnover in private facilities there
is an increased likelihood of conflict between
people in prison and prison staff. Working in
a prison is a stressful job and training is key to
preventing staff from abusing people in the
prison, minimizing injuries to staff and to
prevent violence between people held in
prison.153 When staff lacks adequate training
covering topics such as procedures and
conflict resolution it can often lead to more
incidents occurring between officers and those
incarcerated.154
Although some research shows similar rates
of violent incidents between public and
private facilities,155 other studies comparing
private and public prisons found that assaults
on people in private facilities were nearly
double that of public facilities, while assaults
on correctional officers remained largely the
same.156 Since private prisons have greater
control over who enters their facilities, likely
if they held the same types of people as public
prisons, there would be significant safety
concerns due to under-qualified, poorlytrained staff. Given that private prisons are
generally not subject to state or federal

The data presented here indicate that less
costly workers in private prisons have not
produced an acceptable level of public safety
or inmate care to date.
~ SCOTT D. CAMP AND GERALD G. GAES,
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, GROWTH AND
QUALITY OF U.S. PRISONS, 2001

35 JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

“Freedom  of  Information”  or  “Sunshine”  
laws, it can be difficult to obtain accurate
information.157

PEOPLE IN THE
PRISONS
The people who lose the most in the game
that private prison companies play to increase
incarceration are people in prison. Between
the lack of services, violence, abuse, and an
incentive to hold people for as long as
possible, people in private prisons are the
most vulnerable. And as incarceration
disproportionately affects communities of
color, it follows that private prisons also
disproportionately affect communities of
color.
While even public prisons have these
problems, evidence suggests that private
prisons are worse.158 Incentives to keep costs
low drive many of the problems that make
private prisons more detrimental than public
ones.

Violence and Assault
Numerous reports have listed the abuses that
people in private prisons have experienced.
The Private Corrections Working Group
keeps a list of cases involving abuses at
private facilities.159 Some of the more recent
cases include:
Otter Creek Correctional Center,
Kentucky: Investigators from the Hawai‘i  
Department of Public Safety found that at
least five staff members at the facility,
including a chaplain, had been charged
with having sex with the women in the
prison, including three cases of rape. As a
result, all of the women returned to
facilities  in  Hawai‘i.160 According to the
New York Times, the rate of sexual assault
at the facility was four times higher than

the state-fun facility for women in
Kentucky. Kentucky also removed women
from the facility.
Walnut Grove Youth Correctional
Facility, Mississippi: In a lawsuit filed by
the Southern Poverty Law Center and the
ACLU, boys and young men held in the
facility operated by The GEO Group were
subjected to physical, psychological, and
sexual abuse, unlawful solitary
confinement, abuse of youth with
disabilities, withholding of medical
treatment for youth who were injured
during abuse, and withholding of
educational opportunities for students
with learning disabilities.161

Services
Private prisons have an incentive to minimize
costs by cutting services and treatment.162
Whether a private prison provides
rehabilitative services (such as job training or
drug treatment) is dependent upon the
private  prison  company’s  contract,  which  is  
drafted by legislators and susceptible to
political influence by private prison
companies.163 Although most private prisons
offer similar programming as state-run
facilities as stipulated in their contracts, they
are often not of the same caliber as those
offered within public institutions.164 For
instance, most private prisons have control
over who is placed in their care, often leaving
people with the most expensive needs, like
those who are the highest security risk and
those with serious medical or mental health
issues, in state run facilities.165 Additionally,
most private prison companies provide
limited medical coverage, with advanced and
additional costly care falling on the state.166
For instance, when a person in a privately run
facility requires medical treatment beyond the
established contractual coverage of the
private- prison, the private prison company

GAMING THE SYSTEM
then bills the state for the additional medical
costs.

36

community when people are eventually
released without proper treatment or skills to
effectively re-enter the community.

This lack of services not only causes harm to
the people in prison, but it also affects the

FIGHTING FOR-PROFIT PRISONS IN TEXAS AND BEYOND:
GRASSROOTS LEADERSHIP
For over 30 years, Grassroots Leadership has helped organize people on the ground to fight injustice.
Based in the south and southwest, Grassroots Leadership works to abolish for-profit private prisons and
reduce reliance on detention and criminalization.
Grassroots   Leadership’s   victories   include   a   campaign   that   successfully   stopped   Shelby   County,  
Tennessee (the county that includes Memphis) from privatizing its massive county jail and doubling its
size. Grassroots Leadership also played a pivotal role in the movement that successfully ended immigrant
family  detention  at  Corrections  Corporation  of  America’s  T.  Don  Hutto  Prison  in  Taylor,  Texas.  In  2007,  a  
campaign to prohibit the construction of a private prison in Pike County, Mississippi resulted in the plans
being defeated in a special election, the first time that had ever happened in Mississippi.
“In  the  south   and  southwest,  the  private   prison  industry  has  consistently  targeted  poor  communities.  We  
believe   that   it’s   important   to   fight   in   these   places   to   end   for-profit incarceration and reduce reliance on
criminalization   and   detention,   and   ultimately   build   lasting   movements   for   social   justice,”   said   Bob   Libal,  
Texas Campaigns Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership.
For more information on Grassroots Leadership, please visit: www.grassrootsleadership.org.

37 JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

PART 6

RECOMMENDATIONS
States and the federal government should
look for real solutions to the problem of
growing jail and prison populations. A
number of states are already utilizing
innovative strategies for reducing the number
of people behind bars in their state.ii Reducing
the number of people entering the justice
system, and the amount of time that they
spend there, can lower prison populations,
making private, for-profit prisons
unnecessary, and improving public safety and
the lives of individuals.
Invest in front-end treatment and services in
the community, whether private or public.
Research shows that education, employment,
drug treatment, health care, and the
availability of affordable housing coincide
with better outcomes for all people, whether
involved in the criminal justice system or not.
Jurisdictions that spend more money on these
services are likely to experience lower crime
rates and lower incarceration rates.167 An
increase in spending on education,
employment and other services not only
would improve public safety, but also would

For examples of innovative strategies see: Amanda
Petteruti and Jason Fenster, Finding Direction:
Expanding Criminal Justice Options by Considering
Policies of Other Nations (Washington, D.C.: Justice
Policy Institute, 2011).
www.justicepolicy.org/research/2322; Justice Policy
Institute, Due South: Looking to the South for Criminal
Justice Innovations (Washington, D.C. 2011).
www.justicepolicy.org/research/2472
ii

enhance and enrich communities and
individual life outcomes.
Additional research is needed to effectively
evaluate the cost and recidivism reduction
claims of the private prison industry. With
conflicting research on both the cost savings
and recidivism reduction of private prisons,
additional research is needed to determine the
accuracy of such claims. Moreover, a clearer
dialogue surrounding the difficulties of
comparative research between private and
public facilities would also be beneficial in
providing a better understanding of the
implications of prison privatization.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

38

Corrections Corporation of America, 2010 Annual Report (Nashville, TN: Corrections Corporation of America, 2011).
http://phx.corporateir.net/External.File?item=UGFyZW50SUQ9NDE5MTEwfENoaWxkSUQ9NDMyMjg1fFR5cGU9MQ==&t=1
2 Heather C. West, William J. Sabol, and Sarah J. Greenman, Prisoners in 2009 (Bureau of Justice Statistics,
Washington, DC: 2010). http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p09.pdf
3 Camille Graham Camp and George M. Camp, The Corrections Yearbook, 1997 (South Salem, NY: The Criminal Justice
Institute, 1997); Tracey Kyckelhahn, Justice Expenditure and Employment Extracts 2007, Table 1(Washington, DC:
Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010).
4 Corrections Corporation of America, 2010 Annual Report, 2011; The GEO Group, 2010 Annual Report (Boca Raton, FL:
The GEO Group, 2011). http://www.geogroup.com/AR_2010/images/Geo_Group-AR2010.pdf
5 Brigette Sarabi and Edwin Bender, The Prison Payoff: The Role of Politics and Private Prisons in the Incarceration Boom
(Portland, OR: Western States Center and the Western Prison Project, 2000).
1

See Justice Policy Institute, Pruning Prisons: How Cutting Corrections Can Save Money and Protect Public Safety (Washington, D.C.:
2010) www.justicepolicy.org/research/1928
6

Brad  W.  Lundahl  et  al.,  “Prison  Privatization:  A  Meta-analysis  of  Cost  and  Quality  of  Confinement  Indicators,”  
Research on Social Work Practice 39, no. 4 (2009): 383-394.
8 Brad  W.  Lundahl  et  al.,  “Prison  Privatization,”  2009.
9 Mary  Sigler,  “Private  Prisons,  Public  Functions,  and  the  Meaning  of  Punishment,”  Florida University Law Review 38,
no. 1 (2010): 1-29.
10 Suzanne M. Kirchhoff, Economic Impacts of Prison Growth (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2010).
www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41177.pdf
11 Mary  Sigler,  “Private  Prisons,  Public  Functions,  and  the  Meaning  of  Punishment,”  2010.
12 Douglas McDonald and others, Private Prisons in the United States: An Assessment of Current Practice (Cambridge,
MA: Abt Associates Inc., 1998).
13 Amy Cheung, Prison Privatization and the Use of Incarceration (Washington, D.C.: The Sentencing Project, 2004).
www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/inc_prisonprivatization.pdf
14 U.S. Department of Justice, Correctional Populations in the United States, 1997 (Washington, D.C.; Bureau of Justice
Statistics, 2000). http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cpus97.pdf; Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, Prisoners in
2005 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006); William J. Sabol, Heather Couture and Paige M. Harrison,
Prisoners in 2006 – Appendix table 6 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007); William J. Sabol, Heather
C. West and Matthew Cooper, Prisoners in 2008 – Appendix table 10 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics,
2009); Heather C. West and others, Prisoners in 2009, 2010.
15 Heather C. West, William J. Sabol and Sarah J. Greenman. Prison in 2009 - Statistical Tables. Table 1 (Washington,
D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010); Allen J. Beck and Paige M. Harrison, Prisoners 2000 (Washington, D.C.:
Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001); Allen J. Beck and Darrell K. Gilliard, Prisoners 1994 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of
Justice Statistics, 1995); Paige M. Harrison, Prisoners in Custody of State or Federal Correctional Authorities, 1977-98
(Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000); Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online, Table 6.28.2006:
Number and rate (per 100,000 resident population in each group) of sentenced prisoners under jurisdiction of State and Federal
correctional authorities on December 31. www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t6282006.pdf
16 Brad  W.  Lundahl  et  al.,  “Prison  Privatization,”  2009.
17 Mary  Sigler,  “Private  Prisons,  Public  Functions,  and  the  Meaning  of  Punishment,”  2010.
18 Suzanne M. Kirchhoff, Economic Impacts of Prison Growth, 2010.
19 Mary  Sigler,  “Private  Prisons,  Public  Functions,  and  the  Meaning  of  Punishment,”  2010.
20 Mary  Sigler,  “Private  Prisons,  Public  Functions,  and  the  Meaning  of  Punishment,”  2010.
21 Brad  W.  Lundahl  et  al.,  “Prison  Privatization,”  2009.
22 Suzanne M. Kirchhoff, Economic Impacts of Prison Growth, 2010.
23 Corrections  Corporation  of  America,  “About  CCA,”  November  2010.  www.cca.com/about/
24 Corrections Corporation of America, 2010 Annual Report, 2011.
25 Corrections Corporation of America, 2010 Annual Report, 2011.
26 Corrections Corporation of America, 2010 Annual Report, 2011.
27 Corrections Corporation of America, 2010 Annual Report, 2011.
7

39 JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

Funding  Universe,  “Corrections  Corporation  of  America,”  January  2011.  www.fundinguniverse.com/companyhistories/Corrections-Corporation-of-America-Company-History.html
29 Funding  Universe,  “Corrections  Corporation  of  America,”  January  2011.  
30 Randall G. Shelden, The Prison Industry (San Francisco, CA: Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, 2010).
31 The GEO Group, Inc.,  “Who  We  Are,”  December  2010. www.geogroup.com/about.asp
32 The GEO Group, Inc.,  “Who  We  Are,”  December  2010.
33 The GEO Group, Inc.,  “Who We  Are,”  December  2010; The GEO Group Inc., 2009 Annual Report (Boca Raton, FL:
The GEO Group, 2010). www.geogroup.com/AR_2009_ClientDL/images/GEO_Group-AR2009.pdf
34 The  GEO  Group,  Inc.,  “Historic  Milestones,”  December  2010. www.geogroup.com/history.asp
35 The  GEO  Group,  Inc.,  “Historic  Milestones,”  December  2010.
36 The  GEO  Group,  Inc.,  “Federal,  State,  and  Local  Partnerships,”  December  2010. www.geogroup.com/federal-statelocal.asp
37 The GEO Group, 2010 Annual Report, 2011.
38 Alaska, Louisiana, Virginia, Indiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida;
The GEO Group, 2010 Annual Report, 2011.
39 Cornell Companies, Inc., 2009 Annual Report – Form 10-K (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission, 2010). www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1016152/000110465910010293/a0936304_110k.htm#Item15_ExhibitsAndFinancialStatem_125526
40 The GEO Group, Inc, The GEO Group Completes Transformational Merger with Cornell Companies (Boca Raton, FL:
2010). www.thegeogroupinc.com/documents/Merger.pdf
41 Heather C. West and others, Prisoners in 2009, 2010.
42 Alfred  Blumstein  and  Allen  J.  Beck,  “Population  Growth  in  U.S.  Prisons,  1980-1996,”  Crime  and  Justice  26  (1999):  
17-61.
43 Alfred  Blumstein  and  Allen  J.  Beck,  “Population  Growth  in  U.S. Prisons, 1980-1996,”  1999.
44 Kathleen Maguire and Ann L. Pastore, eds. Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1995. Table 1.96: Private
Correctional Facility Management Firms (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1996).
45 Heather C. West and others, Prisoners in 2009, 2010.
46 Heather C. West and others, Prisoners in 2009, 2010.
47 Heather C. West and others, Prisoners in 2009, 2010.
48 Corrections Corporation of America, 2010 Annual Report, 2011; The GEO Group, 2010 Annual Report, 2011.
49 Corrections Corporation of America, 2009 Annual Report (Nashville, TN: Corrections Corporation of America,
2010). http://ir.correctionscorp.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=117983&p=irolSECText&TEXT=aHR0cDovL2lyLmludC53ZXN0bGF3YnVzaW5lc3MuY29tL2RvY3VtZW50L3YxLzAwMDA5NTAx
MjMtMTAtMDE2MzA5L3htbA%3d%3d; The GEO Group Inc., 2009 Annual Report, 2010; Cornell Companies, Inc.,
2009 Annual Report – Form 10-K, 2010.
50 Heather C. West and others, Prisoners in 2009, 2010.
51 See for example, Justice Policy Institute, Due South: Looking to the South for Criminal Justice Innovations (Washington,
D.C. 2011) www.justicepolicy.org/research/2472
52 Heather C. West and others, Prisoners in 2009, 2010.
53 Heather C. West and others, Prisoners in 2009, 2010.
54 American Correctional Association, Correctional Yearbook, 2008 (Alexandria, VA: American Correctional
Association, 2009).
55 Associated  Press,  “Alleged  youth  prison  abuse  detailed  during  hearing,”  State News, January 12, 2011; Rebecca
Boone,  “Idaho  Man  Sues  Prison  Company  Over  Severe  Beating,”  The Associated Press, April 27, 2010; Craig Malisow,
“Prison  Pays:  Despite  a  history  of  abuse  and  bad  conditions,  private  prison  corporation  GEO  keeps  getting  contracts  
from  the  state,”  Houston Press,  December  30,  2010;  Ian  Urbina,  “Hawaii  to  Remove Inmates Over Sex Abuse
Charges,”  The New York Times, August 26, 2009; Brett  Barrouquere,  “Ky.  inmate  sues  CCA,  claims  sexual  assault,”  
Associated Press, January 7, 2011; Gary  Grado,  “Series  of  prison  security  failures  in  Kingman  allowed  inmates’  
escape,”  Arizona Capital Times, September 20, 2010.
56 Erik  Luna,  “Overextending  the  Criminal  Law,”  in  Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything
(Washington, D.C.: CATO Institute, 2004), 1-7.
28

GAMING THE SYSTEM

40

Corrections Corporation of America, 2010 Annual Report, 2011, p. 22-23.
Edwin Bender, Private Prisons, Politics & Profits (Helena, Montana: National Institute on Money in State Politics,
2000). www.followthemoney.org/press/ZZ/20000701.phtml; Edwin Bender, A Contributing Influence: The PrivatePrison Industry and Political Giving in the South (Helena, Montana: National Institute on Money in State Politics, 2002).
www.followthemoney.org/press/ZZ/20020430.pdf;  Center  for  Responsive  Politics,  “Miscellaneous  Business:  PAC  
Contributions  to  Federal  Candidates,” February 2011. www.opensecrets.org/pacs/industry.php?txt=N12&cycle=2010
59 Includes  2000,  2002,  2004,  2006,  2008  and  2010.  Center  for  Responsive  Politics,  “Miscellaneous  Business:  PAC  
Contributions  to  Federal  Candidates,”  February  2011.  www.opensecrets.org/pacs/industry.php?txt=N12&cycle=2010
60 National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit
Contributions  to  All  Candidates  and  Committees,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=0&s=0&b[]=G7000
61 National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit
Contributions  to  All  Candidates  and  Committees,”  February  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=0&s=0&b[]=G7000
62 Heather C. West, William J. Sabol and Sarah J. Greenman, Prisoners in 2009 - Appendix table 20 (Washington, D.C.:
Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010). http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p09.pdf
63 Joni James,  “Private  prison contracts  may  get  a  pass,”  St. Petersburg Times, May 5, 2005.
64 David  G.  Savage,  “Supreme  Court  orders  California  to  release  tens  of  thousands  of  prison  inmates,”  Los  Angeles  
Times, May 23, 2011. www.latimes.com/news/local/sc-dc-0524-court-prisons-web-20110523,0,2337401.story
65 Solomon  Moore,  “Court  Orders  California  to  Cut  Prison  Population,”  New York Times, February 9, 2009.
www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/us/10prison.html
66 National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Lobbyist  Link  – Corrections Corp of America,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=100552
67 National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Lobbyist  Link  – GEO  Group,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=100516&y=0
68 Edwin Bender, Private Prisons, Politics & Profits, 2000; Edwin Bender, A Contributing Influence: The Private-Prison
Industry and Political Giving in the South, 2002; Brigette Sarabi and Edwin Bender, The Prison Payoff, 2000.
69 Edwin Bender, Private Prisons, Politics & Profits, 2000; Edwin Bender, A Contributing Influence: The Private-Prison
Industry and Political Giving in the South, 2002.
70 Center for Responsive Politics,  “Miscellaneous  Business:  PAC  Contributions  to  Federal  Candidates  – 2000, 2002,
2004,  2006,  2008,  2010,”  February  2011.  www.opensecrets.org/pacs/industry.php?txt=N12&cycle=2010
71 Edwin Bender, Private Prisons, Politics & Profits, 2000; Edwin Bender, A Contributing Influence: The Private-Prison
Industry and Political Giving in the South, 2002.
72 Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, Prisoners in 2002 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003); Heather
C. West and William J. Sabol, Prisoners in 2007 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008).
73 National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Candidate  Summary:  Linda  Lingle,”  April  21,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/uniquecandidate.phtml?uc=3360
74 State  of  Hawai’i  Campaign  Spending  Commission,  “Candidates  and  Candidate  Committees,”  April  21,  2011.  
http://hawaii.gov/campaign/contribution-limits/candidate-committees1
75 Nelson  Daranciang,  “Isle  Inmates  Brought  Home,”  Honolulu Star Advertiser, January 28, 2011.
www.staradvertiser.com/news/hawaiinews/20110128_Isle_inmates_brought_home.html;  Kevin  Dayton,  “Female  
Inmates  Claim  Prison  Staff  Sex  Abuse,”  Honolulu Star Advertiser, February 26, 2005.
http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Feb/26/ln/ln03p.html;  Ian  Urbina,  “Hawaii to Remove Inmates Over
Abuse  Charges,”  New York Times, August 25, 2009. www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/us/26kentucky.html
76 National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit
Contributions to Ballot  Measure  Committees,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.
77 National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit
Contributions  to  All  Candidates  and  Committees,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.
78 National Institute on Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit
Contributions  to  All  Candidates  and  Committees,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=0&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State
Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit  Contributions  to  Gubernatorial  Candidates,”  
57
58

41 JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

accessed May 3, 2011. www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=G&s=0&b[]=G7000; National
Institute on Money in State Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit Contributions to
Senate  Candidates,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=S&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State
Politics,  “Correctional facilities construction & management/for-profit Contributions to House/Assembly
Candidates,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=H&s=0&b[]=G7000;  
National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities construction & management/for-profit
Contributions  to  Other  Statewide  Candidates,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=O&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State
Politics,  “Correctional  facilities construction & management/for-profit  Contributions  to  High  Court  Candidates,”  
accessed May 3, 2011. www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=J&s=0&b[]=G7000; National
Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction & management/for-profit Contributions to
Appellate  Court  Candidates,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=K&s=0&b[]=G7000; National Institute on Money in State
Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit  Contributions  to  Ballot  Measure  Committees,”  
accessed May 3, 2011. www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=B&s=0&b[]=G7000; National
Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Correctional  facilities  construction  &  management/for-profit Contributions to
Party  Committees,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/IndustryTotals.phtml?f=P&s=0&b[]=G7000
79 Center for  Responsive  Politics,  “Lobbying  Corrections  Corp  of  America  – Summary  2010,”  June 2011.
www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?lname=Corrections+Corp+of+America&year=2010
80 National  Institute  on  Money  in  State  Politics,  “Lobbyist  Link  – GEO  Group,”  accessed  May  3,  2011.  
www.followthemoney.org/database/lobbyistclient.phtml?lc=100516&y=0
81 For lobbying disclosure laws for states, see the National Conference of State Legislatures,
http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?TabID=746&tabs=1116,84,211#211
82 Florida State Legislature, “Lobbying  Firm  Compensation  Reports  by  Principal,”  accessed  May  19,  2011.  
http://olcrpublic.leg.state.fl.us/#C
83 State of Montana, Office of Political Practices Website, https://app.mt.gov/cgi-bin/camptrack/lobbysearch/
lobbySearch.cgi?ACTION=PRINCIPALDETAIL_ALL&PRINCIPALID=3974&SESSION=2012. Accessed May 12, 2011.
84 Mike  Ward,  “Ex-lobbyists file lawsuits against state prisons office; Three former employees of private-prison
company Wackenhut say corrections officials turned on pressure to have them fired,”  Austin America-Statesman,
January 17, 1996.
85 Tom  Brown,  “Private  prison  business  eyes  big  Florida  prize,”  Reuters, May 12, 2011.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/12/us-usa-prisons-florida-idUSTRE74B49B20110512
86 Marian  McCue,  “Bill  would  ease  path  for  private  prison  in  Milo,”  The New Maine Times, May 4, 2011.
http://www.newmainetimes.org/articles/2011/05/04/bill-would-ease-path-private-prison-milo/
87 Christine  Oliver,  “Determinants  of  Interorganizational  Relationships:  Integration  and  Future  Directions,”  The
Academy of Management Review 15, no. 2 (1990): 241-265.
88 “President  Obama  Announces  More  Key  Administration  Posts,”  The White House, Office of the Press Secretary,
September 17, 2010. http://m.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/09/17/president-obama-announces-more-keyadministration-posts;  Jim  McElhattan,  “Senate  approves  Hylton  as  marshal:  Critics  note  ties  to  private  prisons,”  The
Washington Times, December 23, 2010. www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/23/senate-approves-hylton-asmarshal/
89 Jim  McElhatton,  “Marshalls  Service  Nominee  Answers  Critics’  Conflict-of-Interest  Charge,”  The Washington Times,
November 17, 2010. www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/17/marshals-service-nominee-answers-criticsconflict-/; United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Questionnaire for Non-Judicial Nominees, Stacia Hylton,
October 6, 2010. http://judiciary.senate.gov/nominations/111thCongressExecutiveNominations/upload/StaciaHyltonPublicQuestionnaire.pdf
90 Jim  McElhatton,  “Marshalls  Service  Nominee  Answers  Critics’  Conflict-of-Interest  Charge,”  November  17,  2010.  
91 The GEO Group, 2010 Annual Report, 2011.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

42

New York Times,  “Lehman  Hires  Kasich,”  January  11,  2001.  www.nytimes.com/2001/01/11/business/lehman-hireskasich.html
93 Public Services International Research Unit, Prison Privatization Report International (London, England: University of
Greenwich, 2001). www.psiru.org/justice/ppri44.asp
94 Mark  Niquette,  “Private-prison  Consultant  Chosen  to  Run  ODRC,”  Columbus Dispatch, January 4, 2011.
www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/01/04/private-prison-consultant-chosen-to-run-ODRC.html
95 Joe  Hallett,  “Kasich:  Ex-advisers  Won’t  Get  Lobbying  Favors,”  Columbus Dispatch, February 2, 2011.
www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/02/02/copy/kasich-ex-advisers-wont-get-lobbyingfavors.html?adsec=politics&sid=101
96 Corrections  Corporation  of  America,  “CCA  Nevada  Southern  Warden  named  Commissioner  of  Depart  of  
Corrections  in  Maine,”  accessed  May  5,  2011.  www.cca.com/newsroom/news-releases/240/
97 A.J.  Higgins,  “Maine  Lawmakers  Debate  Bill  to  Allow  Private  Prisons,”  Maine Public Broadcasting Network, April 29,
2011. www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3478/ItemId/16203/Default.aspx
98 Lance  Tapley,  “At  a  turning  point:  LePage’s  nominee  to  head  Corrections  has  the  skills  to  fix  Maine’s  broken  prison  
system.  Will  the  governor  and  lawmakers  give  Joe  Ponte  the  tools?”  The Portland Phoenix, February 9, 2011.
http://portland.thephoenix.com/news/115404-at-a-turning-point/?page=1#TOPCONTENT
99 Trip  Jennings,  “Sen.  Smith:  Williams’  work  for  GEO  casts  ‘cloud’  over  decision  not  to  fin  firms,”  The New Mexico
Independent, September 21, 2010. http://newmexicoindependent.com/63562/sen-smith-williams-work-for-geo-castscloud-over-decision-not-to-fine-firms
100 Alexander  Volokh,  “Privatization  and  the  Law  and  Economics  of  Political  Advocacy,”  Stanford Law Review 60, no. 4
(2008). www.stanfordlawreview.org/content/article/privatization-and-law-and-economics-political-advocacy
101 ALEC,  “Our Mission,”  November  2010.  
www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=About&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=11127
102 Laura  Sullivan,  “Shaping  State  Laws  with  Little  Scrutiny,”  National Public Radio, October 29, 2010.
www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130891396&ps=cprs
103 Laura  Sullivan,  “Shaping  State  Laws  with  Little  Scrutiny,”  October  29,  2010.  
104 ALEC,  “History,”  November  2010.  
105 ALEC,  “History,”  November  2010.  
106 Brigette Sarabi and Edwin Bender, The Prison Payoff, 2000.
107 ALEC,  “History,”  November 2010.
108 ALEC,  “History,”  November  2010.  
125 ALEC,  “Public  Safety  and  Elections,”  December  2010.  
www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Public_Safety_and_Elections&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&Content
ID=13312
110 John Biewen, Corrections Inc (American RadioWorks: April 2002).
http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/corrections/laws4.html
111 John Biewen, Corrections Inc., April 2002.
112 John Biewen, Corrections Inc., April 2002.
113 Alfred  Blumstein  and  Allen  J.  Beck,  “Population  Growth  in  U.S.  Prisons, 1980-1996,”  1999.
114 John Biewen, Corrections Inc., April 2002.
115 John Biewen, Corrections Inc., April 2002.
116 ALEC, The State Factor: A Plan to Reduce Prison Overcrowding and Violent Crime (Washington, D.C.: 2007).
http://www.alec.org/am/pdf/Criminal_Justice_2007_State_Factor.pdf
117 ALEC,  “ALEC  Corrections  and  Reentry  Working  Group,”  accessed  June  13,  2011.  
http://www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Corrections_and_Reentry_Working_Group
118 Montana Office of Political Practices, https://app.mt.gov/cgibin/camptrack/lobbysearch/lobbySearch.cgi?ACTION=PRINCIPALDETAIL&BACKACTION=PRINCIPALSEARCH
&SEARCH_TYPE=PRINCIPAL&PRINCIPALID=3974&SESSION=2012&ENTITYNAME_SEARCH=Corrections and
“LAWS”  state  legislative  database,  http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2011/billhtml/HB0344.htm
119 American Correctional Association, Correctional Yearbook, 2008 (Alexandria, VA: American Correctional
Association, 2009).
92

43 JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

Scott Ehlers, Vincent Schiraldi and Jason Ziedenberg, Still  Striking  Out:  Ten  Years  of  California’s  Three  Strikes
(Washington, D.C.: Justice Policy Institute, 2004) www.justicepolicy.org/research/2028
121 See Ryan S. King, Incarceration and Crime: A Complex Relationship (Washington, D.C.: The Sentencing Project, 2005)
www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/inc_iandc_complex.pdf
122 Lynne  Vieraitis  and  others,  “The  Criminogenic  Effects  of  Imprisonment:  Evidence  from  State  Panel  Data,  1974  –
2002,”  Criminology & Public Policy 6, no. 3 (2007): 589-622. A number of other studies also found serving time in prison
increases the risk of future offending.
123 Patrick A. Langan and David J. Levin, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice
Statistics, 2002) http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/rpr94.pdf
124 See Justice Policy Institute, Pruning Prisons and Costs of Confinement, www.justicepolicy.org
125 Nastassia Walsh, Amanda Petteruti, and Ava Page, Education and Public Safety (Washington, DC: Justice Policy
Institute, 2007).
126 National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, Table 30: Amount and percentage distribution
of direct general expenditures of state and local governments, by function: Selected years, 1970-71 through 2007-08, August
2010. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/tables/dt10_030.asp
127 Corrections Corporation  of  America,  “Independent  Studies  on  Prison  Privatization,”  April  19,  2011.  
www.cca.com/cca-research-institute/research-findings/independent-studies-prison-privatization/
128 For a compilation of studies, see: American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, Prisons For Profit: A Look at Prison
Privatization (Cleveland, OH, 2010). www.acluohio.org/issues/CriminalJustice/PrisonsForProfit2011_04.pdf
129 Julianne Nelson, Competition in Corrections: Comparing Public and Private Sector Operations (Alexandria, VA:
CNA Corporation, 2005). www.bop.gov/news/research_projects/published_reports/pub_vs_priv/cnanelson.pdf
130 Gerry  Gaes,  “Cost,  Performance  Studies  Look  at  Prison  Privatization,”  NIJ  Journal/Issue  No.  259.  
www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/221507.pdf.
131 General Accounting Office, Private and Public Prisons: Studies Comparing Operational Costs and/or Quality of Service
(Washington, DC: General Accounting Office, 1996). www.gao.gov/archive/1996/gg96158.pdf.
132 Brad  W.  Lundahl  et  al.,  “Prison  Privatization,”  2009.
133 Arizona Department of Corrections: State versus Private Prison FY 2007 Cost Comparison (Scottsdale, AZ: Maximus,
2009). www.azcorrections.gov/adc/reports/ADC_FY2007_cost_comparison.pdf
134 David  W.  Miller,  “The  Drain  of  Public  Prison  Systems  and  the  Role  of  Privatization: An Analysis of State
Correctional  Systems,”  ProQuest Discovery Guides, February 2010. www.csa.com/discoveryguides/prisons/review.pdf
135 Private prisons are not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests; a bill to address this at the federal level has
been re-introduced in the 112th Congress: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.74:
136 Kevin Pranis, Cost-Saving or Cost Shifting: The Fiscal Impact of Prison Privatization in Arizona (Tallahassee, FL:
American Friends Service Committee, 2005). www.afscme.org/docs/AZ.pdf
137 Anonymous Interview, April 18, 2011.
138The State of Texas v. GEO Group Incorporated Formerly Wackenhut Corrections and David Forrest, 2008-CR-0127-A,
November 17, 2008. Found on Private Prison Working Group: www.privateci.org/private_pics/WillacyGEO2.pdf
139 “Texas  court  upholds  $42.4M  verdict  in  prison  death,” Seattle Times, April 8, 2009,
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2009009800_apprisoncompanymurder.html.
140 John  Burnett,  “Town  Relies  On  Troubled  Youth  Prison  For  Profits,”  NPR,  March  2011.  
www.npr.org/2011/03/25/134850972/town-relies-on-troubled-youth-prison-for-profits
141 American  Civil  Liberties  Union,  “Riggs,  et  al.  v.  Valdez,  et  al.  - Second  Amended  Complaint”,  March  11,  2010,  
www.aclu.org/files/assets/2010-3-11-Riggs-SecondAmendedComplaint.pdf.; Brad Iverson-Long,  “ACLU  drops  IDOC  
from  prisoner  abuse  lawsuit”,  Idaho  Reporter,  June  3,  2010,  www.idahoreporter.com/2010/aclu-drops-idoc-fromprisoner-abuse-lawsuit/.
142 John  Burnett,  “Private  Prison  Promises  Leave  Texas  Towns  In  Trouble,”  NPR, March 28, 2011.
www.npr.org/2011/03/28/134855801/private-prison-promises-leave-texas-towns-in-trouble
143 Suzanne  Smalley,  “Development  Scheme:  How  a  small  Montana  town  nearly  handed  over  control  of  its  prison  to  a  
mysterious  security  company  headed  by  a  former  convict  known  as  ‘Captain  Michael’,”  Newsweek, October 14, 2009.
www.newsweek.com/2009/10/13/development-scheme.html
144 Suzanne M. Kirchhoff, Economic Impacts of Prison Growth, 2010.
120

GAMING THE SYSTEM

44

Cost cutting techniques include: lower paid/less trained staff, higher ratio of correctional officers to people in
prison, limited contractual coverage of health services/costs, control over facility population (i.e. limited people with
mental health and serious medical conditions) and running only medium and minimum security facilities. David W.
Miller,  “The  Drain  of  Public  Prison  Systems  and  the  Role  of  Privatization,” February 2010.
146 William  D.  Bales  et  al.,  “Recidivism  of  Public  and  Private  State  Prison  Inmates  in  Florida,”  Criminology & Public
Policy 4, no. 1 (2005): 57-82;  David  W.  Miller,  “The  Drain  of  Public  Prison  Systems  and  the  Role  of  Privatization,”
February 2010. www.csa.com/discoveryguides/prisons/review.pdf
147 William  D.  Bales  et  al.,  “Recidivism  of  Public  and  Private  State  Prison  Inmates  in  Florida,”  2005.
148 To date all academic research conducted to compare private versus public prison recidivism has been conducted in
Florida.
149 David  W.  Miller,  “The  Drain  of  Public  Prison  Systems  and  the  Role  of  Privatization,” February 2010.
150 John Hall and Kelly Walsh, Are  Florida’s  Private  Prisons  Keeping  Their  Promise?  Lack  of  Evidence  to  Show  They  Cost  Less  
and Have Better Outcomes than Public Prisons (Tallahassee, FL: Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, 2010);
Dina Perrone  and  Travis  C.  Pratt,  “Comparing  the  Quality  of  Confinement  and  Cost-effectiveness of Publics Versus
Private  Prisons:  What  we  know,  why  we  do  not  know  more,  and  where  to  go  from  here,”  The Prison Journal 83, no. 3
(2003): 301-322.
151 Suzanne M. Kirchhoff, Economic Impacts of Prison Growth, 2010; Scott D. Camp and Gerald G. Gaes, Growth and
Quality of U.S. Private Prisons: Evidence from a National Survey (Washington, DC: Bureau of Prisons, 2001).
www.bop.gov/news/research_projects/published_reports/pub_vs_priv/oreprres_note.pdf
152 David  W.  Miller,  “The  Drain  of  Public  Prison  Systems  and  the  Role  of  Privatization,” February 2010.
153 James Austin & Gary Coventry, Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons, (Washington DC: Bureau of Justice
Assistance, 2001).
154 David  W.  Miller,  “The  Drain  of  Public  Prison  Systems  and  the  Role  of  Privatization,” February 2010.
155 James Austin & Gary Coventry, Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons, 2001.
156 Curtis  R.  Blakely  and  Vic  W.  Bumphus,  “Private  and  Public  Sector  Prisons—A Comparison of Selected
Characteristics,”  Federal Probation 68, no. 1 (June 2004): 27-33.
www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/FederalCourts/PPS/Fedprob/2004-06/prisons.html
157 Govtrack,  “H.R.  74:  Private  Information  Act  of  2011,”  accessed  May  5,  2011.  
www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-74
158 Scott D. Camp and Gerald G. Gaes, Growth and Quality of U.S. Private Prisons, 2001.
www.bop.gov/news/research_projects/published_reports/pub_vs_priv/oreprres_note.pdf
159 Private  Corrections  Working  Group,  “Lawsuits,”  April  19,  2011. www.privateci.org/lawsuits.html
160 Ian  Urbina,  “Hawaii  to  Remove  Inmates  Over  Abuse  Charges,”  New York Times, August 25, 2009.
www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/us/26kentucky.html
161 American  Civil  Liberties  Union,  “C.B.,  et  al.  v.  Walnut  Grove  Correctional  Authority, et al. – Complaint”,  
November 16, 2010, www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights-racial-justice/cb-et-al-v-walnut-grove-correctional-authority-etal-complaint.;  Clarionledger.com,  “Mississippi  lawmakers  probe  conditions  at  Walnut  Grove  youth  prison”,  January  
11, 2011, www.clarionledger.com/article/20110111/NEWS010504/110111015/Miss.+lawmakers+probe+youth+prison.
162 Suzanne M. Kirchhoff, Economic Impacts of Prison Growth, 2010.
163 D.M.  Levine.  “What’s  costlier  than  a  government  run  prison?  A  private  one.”  CNNMoney.com, August 18, 2010.
http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/17/news/economy/private_prisons_economic_impact.fortune/index.htm
164 Suzanne M. Kirchhoff, Economic Impacts of Prison Growth,  2010;  Dina  Perrone  and  Travis  C.  Pratt,  “Comparing  the  
Quality of Confinement and Cost-effectiveness  of  Publics  Versus  Private  Prisons,”  2003.
165 John Hall and Kelly Walsh, Are  Florida’s  Private  Prisons  Keeping  Their  Promise?  2010.
166 Craig  Malisow,  “Prison  Pays:  Despite  a  history  of  abuse  and  bad  conditions,  private  prison  corporation GEO keeps
getting  contracts  from  the  state.”  Houston Press, December 30, 2010.
167 Justice Policy Institute, Public Safety Series (Washington, D.C.: 2007) www.justicepolicy.org
145

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
GAMING THE SYSTEM

This report would not have been possible without the generous support of the Open Society
Foundations and the Public Welfare Foundation.
The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) would like to express gratitude to Mike Tartaglia, Bob Libal, Kat
Brady, Mike Brickner, Shakyra Diaz, Ari Wohlfeiler, Paul Wright, Alex Friedmann, and Gail Tyree
for their valuable insight on this report.
JPI would also like to thank Ashley King, Jessie Oxley, Matt Scalf, Keith Towery, Elisabeth
Mulholland, Brad Merrin, Andrew Price, and Adrea Hernandez for their assistance gathering data
and research and Nastassia Walsh for her significant contributions to the report.
JPI staff includes Paul Ashton, Jason Fenster, Zerline Hughes, Amanda Petteruti, Kellie Shaw, Tracy
Velázquez, Keith Wallington and Nastassia Walsh.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
PAUL ASHTON, RESEARCH ASSISTANT
Prior to joining JPI, Paul spent time as a sexual assault victim advocate and conducting research
examining intimate partner violence in the LGBT community. Paul’s experience with victim issues
led him to author JPI’s white paper: Moving Toward a Public Safety Paradigm: A Roundtable Discussion
on Victims and Criminal Justice Reform. He has also served on the policy committee of the Delaware
HIV Consortium – working to educate the Delaware State Legislature on the need for increased
funding to address homelessness and HIV. Paul received his Bachelor's Degree in Criminology from
The Ohio State University and a Master's Degree in Criminology from the University of Delaware.

AMANDA PETTERUTI, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
Amanda Petteruti is a researcher and policy analyst with approximately seven years of combined
experience in education and criminal justice policy. Early in her career, she organized a writing
program for youth at the National Campaign to Stop Violence and provided general support to the
National Juvenile Defender Center. Prior to joining the staff of the Justice Policy Institute, she
conducted research on issues pertaining to urban education at the Council of the Great City Schools.
Petteruti has earned a Master of Arts in education policy and leadership from the University of
Maryland College Park and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Bates College. Petteruti has
contributed to several JPI reports related to education policy and co-authored The Vortex: The
Concentrated Racial Impact of Drug Imprisonment and the Characteristics of Punitive Counties and
JPI's Public Safety Policy Brief series.

Reducing the use of incarceration and the justice system and promoting policies
that improve the well-being of all people and communities.
1012 14th Street, NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone: 202-558-7974
Fax: 202-558-7978
www.justicepolicy.org

The Dirty Thirty:
Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of
Corrections Corporation of America

June 2013

THE DIRTY THIRTY:
Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of
Corrections Corporation of America
JUNE 2013
Acknowledgments
This report was compiled for Grassroots Leadership and the Public Safety and
Justice Campaign by:
Holly Kirby
Bob Libal
Piper Madison
Julia Morris
Kymberlie Quong Charles
Warm thanks to everyone who helped us in putting this report together. In
particular, thanks to Alex Friedmann with Human Rights Defense Center and
Private Corrections Institute and Stephen Nathan and Christopher Petrella.

Report Design by Catherine Cunningham

The Dirty Thirty:
Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of
Corrections Corporation of America

Introduction

Corrections

Corporation of America (CCA),

prison corporation, is commemorating its 30th
anniversary throughout 2013 with a series of
birthday celebrations at its facilities around the
country.
the dramatic rise in incarceration and detention in
the United States. Since the company’s founding
in 1983, the incarcerated population has risen by
more than 500 percent to more than 2.2 million
people.1 Meanwhile, the number of people held in
immigration detention centers has exploded from
an average daily population of 131 people to over
32,000 people on any given day.2
contributed to, the expansion of tough-on-crime
and anti-immigrant policies that have driven prison
expansion. Now a multi-billion dollar corporation,
CCA manages more than 65 correctional and
detention facilities with a capacity of more
than 90,000 beds in 19 states and the District
of Columbia.3 The company’s revenue in 2012
exceeded more than $1.7 billion.4
While the company has become a multi-billion
dollar corporation, it has also become exceedingly
controversial, with a record of prisoner abuse,
escapes, riots, and lawsuits marking its history.
Faith denominations, civil rights groups, criminal
justice reform organizations, and immigrant rights
advocates have repeatedly argued that adding the

systems
provides
perverse incentives to
keep
incarceration
rates high.
To mark the company’s
milestone anniversary,
Grassroots Leadership and the Public
Safety and Justice Campaign have sought to
highlight why there is nothing to celebrate about
highlights just some of the shameful incidents that
litter CCA’s history.
As well as unearthing notable scandals and
violations that have taken place over the company’s
last three decades, this report charts several other
key areas in which CCA has left a dubious legacy.
From controversial economic and political ties
to operational cost-cutting and depressing labor
only serve to demonstrate the fundamental reasons
goals of reducing incarceration rates and raising
correctional standards.
This report highlights only 30 incidents in the
company’s history, but could have been much more
expansive. We hope it lends a critical eye to the
and immigration policies, and serves as a starting
point for community members and organizations
industry.

The Sentencing Project. Available at <http://www.sentencingproject.org/template/page.cfm?id=107>
Jacob Fenton, Catherine Rentz, Stokely Baksh and Lisa Hill, “Map: The U.S. Immigration Detention Boom,” PBS/Frontline, October 20, 2011. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/
pages/frontline/race-multicultural/lost-in-detention/map-the-u-s-immigration-detention-boom/>
1
2

3
4

Table of Contents
1. Auspicious Beginnings: “Just Like Selling Hamburgers,” CCA Opens First Detention Center in Houston,
Texas..............................................................................................................................................................1
2. A “Groundbreaking” Example of Prison Privatization: Squalor and Violence at Lake Erie Correctional
Institution........................................................................................................................................................2
3.

...................................................................3

4.

........................................................................................................5

5.

..................................................................................7

6.

...........................................................................................................................9

7.

.........................................................10

8.

........................................................................................12

9.

........................................................................................................................14

10.

...................................................................................15

11.

....................................................................................17

12.

...............................................................................19

13. Columbia Training Center Juvenile Abuse......................................................................................................20
14.

.................................................................................................21

15.

..................................................................................................................22

16.

.................................................................................................23

17.

........................................................................24

18.

...............................................................................................................26

19.

.........................................................................................................27

20.

...............................................................29

21.

.............................31

22.

..................................................................................................32

23.

...........................................................................33

24. Securing Beds in Colorado...........................................................................................................................34
25.

......................................................................35

26.

..................................................................................................................37

27.

............................................................................................................38

28.

39

29.

...........................................................................................40

30.

...............41

1. Auspicious Beginnings: “Just Like Selling Hamburgers,” CCA
Opens First Detention Center in Houston, Texas

Backed

by venture capitalist Jack Massey, who

Hospital Corporation of America, Corrections
Corporation of America was founded in January
1983, when co-founders Tom Beasley, T. Don Hutto
company. According to Beasley, the company was
founded on the principle that you could sell prisons
“just like you were selling cars, or real estate, or
hamburgers.”
Beasley was a politically connected former head
of the Tennessee Republican Party while Crants
was a Nashville lawyer and businessman. Hutto,
the only founder with corrections experience and a
former Arkansas prison director, was at the time a
Virginia state corrections director and president of
the American Correctional Association.1
Hutto’s direction as a corrections chief was anything
but rosy. Under Hutto’s tenure in Arkansas, the
Supreme Court wrote, “The administrators of
Arkansas’ prison system evidently tried to operate
institution at the center of this litigation, required
1

a day, six days a week, using mule-drawn tools
and tending crops by hand. ... The inmates were
with a guard in an automobile or on horseback
driving them on. ... They worked in all sorts of
weather, so long as the temperature was above
freezing, sometimes in unsuitably light clothing or
without shoes.”2
Despite

little

experience

4

references,

in

contract to operate an immigrant detention center
in Houston under contract with the Immigration
and Naturalization Services (INS).3
According to a video interview on CCA’s website,
a chuckling Hutto describes hurriedly locating,
which was the converted Olympic Motel in
Houston. He describes hiring the former hotel
the undocumented prisoners himself.4 From these
auspicious beginnings rose the multi-billion dollar
private prison industry.

Donna Selman and Paul Leighton (2010)

2
3

or

Corrections Corporation of America, See <http://www.cca.com/about/cca-history/>
Corrections Corporation of America, See <http://www.cca.com/about/cca-history/>

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 1

2. A “Groundbreaking” Example of Prison Privatization: Squalor
and Violence at Lake Erie Correctional Institution
Conneaut Councilman Neil
LaRusch expressed concern over the city’s lack
4

A

private company, Corrections Corporation of
America’s purchase of the Lake Erie Correctional
Institution for $72.7 million from Ohio in late 2011
was widely hailed as a “groundbreaking” move that
would pave the way for other states seeking to cut
costs.1 The excitement of this transaction quickly
soured when, only a year into CCA’s control of the
facility, state audits found staff
mismanagement,
widespread
violence, delays in medical
treatment and “unacceptable
living conditions,” including a
lack of access to toilet facilities,
with prisoners forced to defecate
in plastic containers and bags.
Amongst numerous concerns
over medical provisions, the audit
detailed how staff did not follow
proper procedures for chronically
ill prisoners, including those with diabetes and
AIDS, medical appointments were severely delayed,
and prisoners were often triple-bunked or forced to
state.2

Rather than contributing to the growth of the local
economy, CCA’s takeover of the facility instead
resulted in a dramatic increase in crime in the town
of Conneaut, Ohio, with the arrests of multiple
people trying to smuggle contraband into Lake
Erie in January 2013.3 According to city crime data,
prison-related calls in that year as all of the previous

commenting, “We understand that it’s a private
come at the expense of the safety and security of
right now, I can’t go put 20 more people on staff at
the police department.”
Following its purchase of Lake Erie,
CCA sent letters to 48 states, heralding
its acquisition of the facility as a shining
run prisons to private businesses. The
letter reads, “We want to build on that
success and provide our existing or
prospective government partners with
access to the same opportunity.”5
2012, CCA spokesman Steve Owen
pointed to the improved conditions inside Lake
Erie, citing a follow-up state audit in November.
While the follow-up audit did note improved
conditions at the facility, it emphasized that more
time and continual monitoring were needed to
ensure that consistent improvements were made,
particularly with regards to medical care. Owen
also highlighted the high marks given to the facility
by the American Correctional Association, “the
accreditation body which offers its services in return
for payment and whose former employees include
past president Daron Hall (a former CCA program
director) and at least one current CCA employee,
Todd Thomas, who serves as an ACA auditor.”

1
Julie Carr Smyth, “Ohio Becomes First American State to Sell Prison to Private Company,”
ohio-prison-sold_n_946862.html>
2
Chris Kirkham, “Lake Erie Correctional Institution, Ohio Private Prison, Faces Concerns About ‘Unacceptable’ Conditions,”

, February 2, 2013. <http://www.

Mark Todd, “Conneaut police arrest 4 in vicinity of prison,” Star Beacon, January 10, 2013. <http://starbeacon.com/local/x1633448322/Conneaut-police-arrest-4-in-vicinity-ofprison/print>
4
Chris Kirkham, “Lake Erie Correctional Institution, Ohio Private Prison, Faces Concerns About ‘Unacceptable Conditions,’”
, February 2, 2013. <http://www.
3

5
Chris Kirkham, “Private Prison Corporation Offers Cash in Exchange for State Prisons,”
private-prisons-buying-state-prisons_n_1272143.html>

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 2

3. Keeping Costs Low and Profits High Through Employee
Mistreatment

Corrections Corporation of

America’s record of

prisoners within its facilities but has often come at
the expense of the company’s own employees. In an
as a cheaper alternative to government-run prisons,
CCA’s cost-cutting measures have frequently been
and salaries, operating on routinely low and
dangerous staff-to-prisoner ratios, and not offering
Research for a lawsuit brought by people
incarcerated at the Idaho Correctional Center
reports, which showed guards working 24, 36
and 48 hours straight without time off, sometimes
without appropriate compensation and in direct
violation of state laws.1 In May 2012, a group of
shift supervisors at Kentucky’s Marion Adjustment
Center sued CCA for forcing them to work extra
hours, denying them overtime or meal and rest
breaks, and requiring them to attend training
sessions without pay.2 Similarly, a class-action Fair
Labor Standards Act lawsuit was settled in Kansas
in February 2009 for up to $7 million, alleging that
some employees were required to perform work
several lawsuits have also drawn attention to CCA’s
failure to pay even the prevailing wage rate to
employees, with cases settled in 2000 at Louisiana’s
Winn Correctional Center3 and the San Diego
Correctional Facility.4 The low wages of most
CCA employees certainly do not extend to its top
executives. In 2011, CEO Damon Hininger was
paid $3,696,798, while Chairman of the Board
John Ferguson received a salary of $1,734,793.5

appropriate training. The incident of CCA guard
Jerry Reeves is a case in point that demonstrates the
company’s negligence in training and supervising
its employees. On August 5, 1998 at Tennessee’s
Whiteville Correctional Facility, Reeves was left
alone on a recreation yard just six weeks into the
equipment, where he was seriously assaulted by
prisoners and incurred multiple skull fractures. An
investigation into the incident revealed that CCA
tried to cover up the staff assaults on prisoners,
with staff addressing the incident themselves
through their own disturbingly violent interrogative
methods, which involved slamming prisoners into
walls, striking them in the groin and the use of
electrical stun devices.6
CCA’s record is further marred by the company’s
treatment of female workers. In 2002, CCA’s North
Fork Correctional Facility in Oklahoma agreed to
pay 96 women $152,000 in back wages for denying
them employment as a result of their gender. The
charges were brought by the U.S. Department of
Labor after an audit found that female applicants
had been turned down for CCA jobs despite
male counterparts.7 While this incident involved
prospective employees, CCA has allowed far worse
treatment of its own employees. For example,
on October 1, 2009, CCA paid $1.3 million to
settle allegations of serious sexual harassment
involving female employees at the
company’s

to the majority of its staff, it is no surprise that
those who are hired often do not have extensive
corrections experience, nor are they provided with

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 3

Crowley County Correctional Facility (CCCF)
Employment Opportunity Commission, alleged
that female staff members were subjected to sexual
abuse and rape at the facility, at times under the
threat of losing their jobs.8 In one incident, the
court heard that CCA management had reassigned
with a male co-worker whom she had previously
complained had sexually harassed her, where the
same man then raped her.9
With such working conditions, it is not surprising
that CCA has a chronically high staff turnover
rate. The last self-reported industry statistics from
2000 found that the average turnover rate was 53%
in private prisons, 16% in public prisons.10 A 2008
Texas state report found that private prisons had
a 90 percent annual staff turnover rate, compared
to 24 percent in publicly operated prisons.11
Such practices of cutting labor costs are not only
detrimental for private prison employees but also
for prisoners and the public at large. As Joshua
Miller of the public employee union AFSCME
points out, “Private corrections is structurally
1

mission of corrections from public safety and
rehabilitation to making a quick buck. Chronic
violence, and extreme cost-cutting make the private
prison model a recipe for disaster.”12 In addition
to a failure to provide for its own employees, low
labor force that is ill-equipped to handle the stress
and danger of operating and managing prisons,
leading to a high level of mismanagement, scandal,
and violence.
To add insult to injury, CCA has refused
opportunities to honor employees who have lost
their lives in the service of the company. In May
2013, CCA shareholder Alex Friedmann requested
a moment of silence for Catlin Carithers13, a 24
year old CCA employee who was killed during a
riot at CCA’s Adams County Correctional Facility
in Natchez, Mississippi on May 20, 2012. Board
Friedmann described as callous, insensitive, and
indicative of the value CCA places on its employees.
Forbes, February 5, 2013. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/mattstroud/2013/02/05/ap-

2
Brett Barrouquere, “Private prison supervisors say CCA denied overtime,”
, May 15, 2012. <http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/14/private-prisonsupervisors-say-cca-02/>
3
Results of a search performed in a database of Overtime and Minimum Wage Compliance Activity (January 1996-October 2002) contained on the Labor Database CD-ROM
produced by the Food and Allied Service Trades, January 2003.
4
Results of a search performed in a database of Service Contract Act violations (January 1996-October 2002) contained on the Labor Database CD-ROM produced by the Food
and Allied Service Trades, January 2003.
5
“Executive Salaries,”
, 2009. <http://www.privateci.org/salaries.html>
6
“Youngstown: Will Justice Be Served,”
, January/February 1999. <http://www.afscme.org/news/publications/newsletters/works/
januaryfebruary-1999/youngstown-will-justice-be-served>
7 “Failure to Hire Pay Agreed for 96 Women,”
, August 29, 2002. <http://newsok.com/failure-to-hire-pay-agreed-for-96-women/article/2805216>
8
“Video release prompts FBI prison investigation,”
, November 30, 2010. <http://www.nbcnews.com/id/40439227/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/video-releaseprompts-fbi-prison-investigation/#.UZG_GJVMaZM>
9
Felisa Cardona, “Crowley County prison operator to pay $1.3 million in settling sex-harassment lawsuit,”
, October 14, 2009. <http://www.denverpost.com/
ci_13555622>
10
“Quick Facts About Prison Privatization,”
, 2009. <http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/Private%20prison%20fact%20sheet%202009.pdf>
11
Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, Interim Report to 81st Legislature, December 2008. <http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/commit/c590/c590.InterimReport80.
pdf>
12
Joshua Miller, “Worker Rights in Private Prisons,” in Andrew Coyle et al., editors,
, Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2003, p. 150.
13

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 4

4. A Disturbing Culture of Staff Misconduct

Given Corrections Corporation of America’s cost-

cutting methods of not providing adequate salaries
and training to its employees, it is unsurprising that
instances of gross misconduct are well documented
across the company’s facilities. Allegations
of violence, sexual abuse, incompetence and
mistreatment have become endemic to CCA’s
facilities, as have numerous charges of CCA
Following several allegations of missing cash
from prisoners at CCA’s Hernando County Jail
in Florida, an investigation revealed that Jeffrey
been pocketing incoming prisoners’ money, giving
Hodges pleaded guilty in March 2006 to two
counts of grand theft, was placed on probation for
18 months, and ordered to pay back the $750 he
had stolen from two prisoners.1

The involvement of CCA employees in selling
drugs to prisoners is far too common. In December
1996, more than 200 federal agents and local
Detention Facilities in Tennessee as part of an
18-month undercover investigation into drug
Although
it
was
alleged
that
CCA
management
had
been
tipped
off
and were able
to
swiftly
clean up the
facility, the
raid resulted
in
the
conviction
of
nine
people.2

Raids have continued at Silverdale, with the warden
illegal drug use and the escape of two prisoners
smuggling in marijuana in October 2011.3
a few of CCA’s facilities, but are part of a much
wider problem rooted in private corrections. “Low
pay for guards and cost-cutting strategies are
part of the problem”, comments Prison Life editor
Richard Stratton. “It’s a question of training of
the guards and just general seriousness of how
they take the job.”4 In September 2001, a former
guard at the Tulsa Jail was found attempting to
smuggle methampethamine to a prisoner5 while, at
after she was arrested for possession of cocaine.6
Meanwhile, at CCA’s Correctional Treatment
Facility in Washington, D.C. – originally used for
prisoners with substance-abuse problems – an FBI
sting operation indicted four guards in November
2002 on charges that they smuggled drugs, pagers,
and cash to prisoners in exchange for bribes.
Most shocking are the disturbing levels to which
CCA staff have sunk in their degrading treatment
of people incarcerated at their facilities. In 2006 at
CCA’s Citrus County Jail in Florida, four prisoners
urinated and placed faecal matter in their food and
drinks on multiple occasions. CCA admitted that
urine had been mixed into juice served to people
incarcerated at the jail and two CCA guards, Kevin
Hessler and Alexander Diaz, and a supervisor,
the allegations.7 One of many instances of prisoner
sexual abuse was at CCA’s T. Don Hutto facility
in Texas, where CCA employee Donald Charles
Dunn was found guilty of sexually abusing at least
8 female immigrant detainees while transporting
them in a van alone, in violation of ICE policy.
Dunn was sentenced to 10 months in federal

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 5

prison. Unfortunately CCA has done little to
improve its facilities, and violence, drug use, and
mismanagement persist on a large scale. On
the contrary, in 2012, CCA’s board of directors
successfully urged shareholders to vote against
a resolution requiring the company to report on
what it was doing to reduce the incidents of rape
Jonathan Abel, “Ex-guard pleads guilty to 2 jail thefts,”
shtml>
2
Chris Joyner, “Contraband at Silverdale,”
1

3

and sexual abuse in its facilities.8
instances of sexual abuse that have come out of
CCA’s facilities - as we detail at Hutto (#22) and
Otter Creek (see #28) - only serve to illustrate
go to hide human rights violations and reject
accountability.

, March 9, 2006. <http://www.sptimes.com/2006/03/09/Hernando/Ex_guard_pleads_guilt.
, nd. <http://chattanoogaendeavors.com/media/category/news/articles/cca_contraband.pdf>
Times Free Press, October 5, 2011.

Chris Joyner, “Contraband at Silverdale,”
, nd. <http://chattanoogaendeavors.com/media/category/news/articles/cca_contraband.pdf>
David Harper, “Ex-Jailer Guilty in Drug Sale,”
, December 5, 2001.
6
“CCA Worker Fired After Drug Arrest,”
, September 21, 2002, p. A20.
7
Kelli Kennedy, “Human Waste Put in Food, Ex-Inmates Claim,” Associated Press, March 11, 2006. <http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-119683145.html>
8
Jonathan Meador, “CCA Board Votes Down Resolution on Reporting Rape, Sexual Abuse Statistics,”
, May 10, 2012. <http://www.nashvillescene.com/
pitw/archives/2012/05/10/cca-board-votes-down-resolution-on-reporting-rape-sexual-abuse-statistics>
4
5

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 6

5. A Testament to Ineptitude: Escapes and Mistaken Releases

Numerous

escapes and mistaken releases
demonstrate
Corrections
Corporation
of
America’s failure to properly train its staff and

Florida’s Hernando County Jail, a catalogue of
cost-cutting operational failures manifested in a
series of escapes, eventually leading the county to
take over the facility in 2010. The escapes began
shortly after CCA constructed the $8 million jail
in 1989, with a state investigator highlighting “a
combination of improper cell security checks by
staff, defective cell doors and ineffective security
1
Following
the escape of four prisoners in January 1990, it
transpired that prison staff had not been following
the required state protocols of checking prisoners

notice that he was going to an off-site doctor’s
appointment and was not prevented access to a
contraband cell phone as per protocols, which he
used to plan his escape with the help of his cousin.7
While driving through Tennessee the pair were
stopped by police Sgt. Mark Chesnut, who was shot
settled a lawsuit against CCA that alleged poor
security protocols at DCF had led to the escape. As
a private company with vested interests, CCA tries
to cover itself when incidents do arise and their

ranged from a prisoner removing a stainless steel
plate in a shower stall,2 one cutting a hole in the
ceiling,3 and another walking out through an
unlocked door and then climbing out over the roof4
enabling him to join a work detail outside the jail
5
After the jail went into county hands,
takeover, pointed to mismanagement and routinely
ignored maintenance problems as pivotal reasons
for CCA’s failure at the facility. Page interviewed
former CCA employees applying for jobs at the
county-run jail, rejecting most either as a result of
failed background checks or not meeting standards.
“Frankly,” Page said, “I don’t understand why a few
of them weren’t in jail.”6
CCA has seen heavy criticism for its security
policies, including the company’s negligence in
preventing and responding to escapes. In 2009 at
Mississippi’s Delta Correctional Facility, a prisoner
serving a life sentence for armed robbery and
aggravated assault was given several weeks advance

response is no different when it comes to escapes.
In 2008, a prisoner escaped through the ventilation
system at Nashville’s Metro Detention Facility, with
staff waiting two days before issuing a warrant for
his arrest.8
In addition to numerous escapes, CCA staff have
also mistakenly released prisoners. From the time
CCA opened Oklahoma’s David L. Moss Criminal
Justice Center in 1999, the center was plagued
by accidental releases, eventually leading to the
facility’s takeover by Tulsa County in 2005 (see #16).
Administrative errors ranged from an employee
incorrectly recording a prisoner’s offense, allowing
him to post bond in 1999, to the accidental release
of at least a dozen people incarcerated - some of
whom had been convicted of violent crimes - due
to staff mistakes, including releasing prisoners who

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 7

impersonated others scheduled for release. CCA’s
record of mistaken releases is no better at its other
facilities. For example, in 2007, nine prisoners
were released at Florida’s Bay County Jail due to
staff errors.9 The lack of training of CCA staff
continues to stand out as an explicator of the
company’s failure to correctly manage its prisoner
population, derided by employees themselves. A
of the incidents commented, “I was never trained
how to read court documents … No one ever gave
me any formal training on how to do anything
down there.”10
On the other hand, the active involvement of CCA
staff has also led to successful escapes. In October
1998, four prisoners escaped from the South

Central Correctional Facility after a guard allowed
bolt cutters to be smuggled into the prison. The
escape occurred in broad daylight, with two of the
prisoners tying up a local farmer and stealing his
with the escape and it was later revealed that
recreation yard instead of the mandated two.11
At the same facility in January 1999, a prisoner
escaped by dressing up as a guard and persuading a
female prison guard to escort him out.12 Similarly in
April 2006, a CCA guard was charged after helping
prisoner escape from the Hernando County jail
after a guard allowed bolt cutters to be smuggled
into the prison.13

Dan DeWitt, “Guard Fired Over Inmates’ Escape; State Review Blames Staff, Jail Construction,”
, March 21, 1990, pg. 1.
Dan DeWitt, “Inmate Escapes from Hernando Jail,”
, December 19, 1990, pg. 1.
3
Jamie Jones, “County jail escapee caught a day later,”
, November 6, 2002. <http://www.sptimes.com/2002/11/06/Hernando/County_jail_escapee_c.shtml>
4
Jonathan Abel, “Hernando: Inmate escapes from jail,”
, February 11, 2006. <http://www.sptimes.com/2006/02/11/Hernando/Inmate_escapes_from_j.
shtml>
5
Jamie Malernee, “Prison Escapee Capitalized on Opportunities,”
, July 6, 2001. <http://www.sptimes.com/News/070601/Hernando/Prison_escapee_capita.
shtml>
6
John Woodrow Cox and Barbara Behrendt. “Hernando County’s takeover of jail brings year of sweeping changes,”
, August 27, 2011. <http://www.tampabay.
com/news/localgovernment/hernando-countys-takeover-of-jail-brings-year-of-sweeping-changes/1188387>
7
, October 30, 2009. <http://www.hollinslegal.com/wp-content/
1
2

8

“CCA waited before issuing warrant on escape Terrell Watson last seen in the prison on Sunday,”

, February 21, 2008.

9

BayCOrelease.pdf>
Susan Hylton, “CCA Supervisor Fired Over Mistaken Inmate Releases,”
, June 7, 2001.
11
“Guard Supervisor at Clifton Prison Fired After Four Inmates Escaped,” Associated Press, October 23, 1998.
12
“Tennessee recaptures killer who escaped in guard garb,” Associated Press, 3 February 1999. <http://www.deseretnews.com/article/673133/Tennessee-recaptures-killer-whoescaped-in-guard-garb.html?pg=all>
13
, April 15, 2006. <http://www.sptimes.com/2006/04/15/Hernando/Guard_helped_plot_jai.
shtml>
10

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 8

6. Riots Spiral Out Of Control

The

high number of uncontrolled protests
amongst prisoners at Corrections Corporation of
America’s facilities continues to draw attention to
the facility conditions that provoke riots, and the
failure of staff to adequately respond when they
arise. In many cases, protests have been explicitly
aimed at the substandard conditions in CCA’s
prisons, but have been dramatically mishandled by
In April 2001, three-quarters of the 800 prisoners
at New Mexico’s Cibola County Correctional
Center engaged in a non-violent protest against
their treatment at the facility by refusing to return
to their cells. Despite the peaceful nature of the
recreation yard where prisoners had gathered.1

In July 2004, guards at Colorado’s Crowley County
Correctional Facility ignored prisoners’ requests to
speak with the warden over conditions, resulting in
a quickly escalating riot with over 400 prisoners.
and smashing furniture, and using steel weights
and dumbbells from the exercise yard to smash
doors, windows, and walls. Thirteen prisoners
were injured, one of them seriously enough to
require medical helicopter evacuation due to stab
wounds; reports stated that CCA guards ran at the

disturbance. One prisoner, who was trying to assist
a deaf cellmate, was forced to lie down in sewage,
dragged from his cell by his ankles, and left outside
all night in handcuffs. Others were forced to relieve
themselves in their pants as they were taunted and
gassed by staff, then video-recorded in the showers
by female employees.3
lawsuits against CCA and in April 2013, CCA
reached a $600,000 settlement.
protests in advance, staff have often failed to
put appropriate response procedures in place.
In May 2012, CCA staff were informed about a
protest concerning poor food and medical care at
Mississippi’s Adams County Correctional Facility.4
CCA employee Catlin Carithers was beaten to
death, other employees were taken hostage, and at
a chaotic scene, with prisoners hurling tear gas
canisters back at guards, many of whom abandoned
the facility. Mississippi Representative Bennie G.
Thompson commented that the riot “brings into
question the effectiveness of privately owned and
operated prison facilities.”5 Incidents like the one in
Adams County continue to be a somber reminder
correctional facilities.

Colorado DOC highlighted the poor training of
procedures, making particular mention of staff
members’ disregard of prisoners’ complaints and
their use of excessive force as central reasons for the
riot’s escalation.2 After the riot, numerous prisoners
said they were assaulted by CCA employees,
including prisoners who did not participate in the
1
2

“Lockdown Remains in Effect at Private Prison,” Associated Press, April 27, 2001.
Colorado Department of Corrections, “After Action Report. Inmate Riot: Crowley County Correctional Facility,” October 1, 2004. <http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/sites/

Alan Prendergast, “Crowley inmates settle lawsuit for $600,000,”
, April 24, 2013. <http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2013/04/crowley_inmates_lawsuit_
settlement_600000.php>
4
Holbrook Mohr, “FBI reports Mexican group ‘Paisas’ started prison riot in Adams County,”
news/2012/08/fbi_reports_mexican_group_pais.html>
5
Robbie Brown. “Mississippi Prison on Lockdown After Guard Dies,”
, May 22, 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/23/us/mississippi-prison-onlockdown-after-guard-dies.html?_r=0>
3

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 9

7. Denial and Death: Cutting Operational Costs
Through Basic Medical Care

Over

the course of its history, Corrections
Corporation of America’s failure to provide
adequate medical care to people in prisons has
been called into question far too often. Rather than
corrections, the frequency of allegations of poor
medical care belies the extent to which CCA shirks
providing necessary medical attention in even the
direst of situations.
when the company was accused of failing to provide
adequate medical care to pregnant 23-year-old
Rosalind Bradford. Bradford was held in CCA’s
Silverdale facility in Tennessee, where she died
from pregnancy complications. A shift supervisor
for at least twelve hours before staff agreed for her
transferal to a hospital. The supervisor said in a
deposition, “Rosalind Bradford died out there, in
my opinion, of criminal neglect.”1 CCA agreed to

Schlitters in March 2003, charging that prison
old son Jeffrey Buller, resulting in his death at
Colorado’s Kit Carson Correctional Center. Buller
suffered from hereditary angioedema, causing his
breathing passages to swell, but which could be
controlled effectively with medication. Buller had
been supplied with medication throughout his
incarceration but in the last few weeks of his stay
the supply ran out and, despite repeatedly pleading
with CCA medical staff for a new prescription,
no new supply was reordered.2 Buller died a day
before he was supposed to be released. CCA settled
the lawsuit out of court in 2004.

Amongst a string of incidents
across its centers, CCA settled a
lawsuit of extreme medical negligence in 2004
over the death of Jonathan Magbie, a 27-year-old
quadriplegic. Magbie died of respiratory failure
just four days into a ten-day sentence at CCA’s
Correctional Treatment Center in DC, where he
was not provided with his diaphragmic ventilator.3
In September 2006, Jose Lopez-Gregario
committed suicide at Arizona’s Eloy Detention
Center. Lopez-Gregario was on suicide watch,
known to be despondent and had made medical
requests to staff who failed to respond.
Even when CCA provides medical care, incidents
of grave negligence have all too frequently
demonstrated the absence of proper medical
protocols. The death of Justin Sturgis, who
swallowed multiple Ecstasy pills before being
arrested and incarcerated in 2001, is a case in
point. While grand jurors found no criminal
liability in the death of the Bay County prisoner,
CCA personnel, including a nurse, contributed
to his death. The jury’s presentment stated that,
“correctional personnel failed to demonstrate
adequate health training in responding to the
level of distress evidenced by Justin Sturgis.”4 The
hearing found that medical protocols within the
jail were inadequate and were not followed, while
other prisoners reported that guards taunted and
laughed at Sturgis for several hours before calling
an ambulance, by which time it was too late to
prevent his death.5
medical protocols, these cases serve as a testament
to CCA’s drastic efforts to cut operating costs and
6

Erica Bates, “Private Prisons,”
, 1997.
Federal Contractor Misconduct Database – POGO, “Tamara L. Schlitters vs. Corrections Corporation of America (Death at Kit Carson Correction Center),” March 24, 2003.
<http://www.contractormisconduct.org/ass/contractors/170/cases/1167/1632/corrections-corp-of-america-schlitters_complaint.pdf>

1
2

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 10

3

Henri E. Cauvin, “D.C. Jail Stay Ends in Death For Quadriplegic Md. Man,”

, October 1, 2004. <http://www.hollinslegal.com/wp-content/

4
5
6
Elizabeth Alexander, “Private Prisons and Heath Care: The HMO from Hell,” in Andrew Coyle et al., eds.,
Clarity Press, 2003, pg. 67.

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 11

, Atlanta:

8. “Gold Star” Accreditation and “Impartial” Research

Throughout its history, Corrections Corporation

of America has claimed to uphold high operational
standards, using both American Correctional
Association (ACA) accreditation and a small
body of research literature to demonstrate the
advantages of prison privatization. What CCA
exchanges and close ties between the company and
so-called impartial analysts.
One way CCA argues the quality of its facilities
is ACA accreditation. The ACA is a private, nongovernmental organization composed of current
and former corrections employees that offers
accreditation services of corrections facilities based
on the company’s own self-created standards. The
company’s cozy ties with the ACA go back to
1984, when CCA founder T. Don Hutto was the
president of the ACA. There is no regulation of
the ACA beyond its own employees, who include
immediate past president Daron Hall (a former
CCA program director), and at least one CCA
employee, Todd Thomas, who serves as an ACA
auditor.1 In August 2009, the ACA gave its stamp
of approval to thirteen CCA managed facilities for
$63,000, shortly after CCA sponsored ACA’s 139th
Congress of Corrections conference banquet held
in Nashville, Tennessee. ACA-accredited CCA
facilities include the notorious Idaho Correctional
Center or “Gladiator School,” Kentucky’s Otter
Creek Correctional Center, where six CCA
employees were charged with sexually abusing
or raping prisoners, and Arizona’s Saguaro
Correctional Center, in which two prisoners
were murdered in 2010. Donna Como, a former
CCA employee who served as an accreditation
manager, candidly admitted that she helped falsify
documents for an ACA audit. “I was the person
who doctored the ACA accreditation reports for
this company,” she stated in December 2008,
referring to her employment at the CCA-operated
Southern Nevada Women’s Correctional Facility.

of-interest
charges
against “independent”
private prison researcher
Dr. Charles Thomas are
yet another case where the corrupt methods used by
CCA to prove its superior performance have been
publicly exposed. During the 1990s, Thomas (a
professor at the University of Florida and founder
of the Private Corrections Project) was repeatedly
used by CCA as their leading academic supporter,
cited as an authoritative voice on the superiority
of privatized prisons over the public sector. In
1997, Thomas’ position as an independent analyst
came into question after he was appointed to the
board of CCA’s Prison Realty Trust - the real estate
investment trust set up by CCA for tax reasons - and
when it was revealed that he owned stock in private
2
A subsequent investigation by the
Florida Commission on Ethics found that Thomas
had also received $3 million in consulting fees from
the largest civil penalty in the ethics commission’s
history, and resigned his academic post as a result.3
Rather tellingly, Thomas later joined the board of
Avalon Correctional Services, a private company
that operates community correctional facilities.4
Nevertheless, his publications continue to be cited
by the private prison industry as evidence of its
superiority over state-run facilities.
In April, 2013 Temple University’s Center for
Competitive Government released a study that
better performance by private prison companies
compared to their government-run counterparts.5
CCA promoted the report in state media markets
and utilized social media to decry advocate claims
2013 press release issued by Temple University6,
the study was funded by “members of the private
corrections industry.” However, the report itself

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 12

does not indicate that it was funded by private prison
researchers who have both previously advocated
for the privatization of government functions, nor
that the research was not peer reviewed.7 CCA has
made no mention of the study’s funding in either
its public relations or in its citation of the study in
its 2013 investor presentation.8

In a May 22 press release issued by Private
Corrections Institute, Professor Edward L. Queen,
J.D., Director of Leadership Education at the
Emory University Center for Ethics stated, “Any
published or publicly released research should
identify all sources of funding in support of that
research. Especially any sources of funding that
9

“CCA Pays Over $22,000 to American Correctional Association to Claim “Stamp of Approval” at Five Private Prisons,”
releases/PCI_press_release/CCA_ACA_accreditation/prweb4243834.htm>
2
Rick Brooks and Karen L. Tippett, “Leading Expert on Private Prisons Criticized for Taking REIT Seat,”
1

, July 9, 2010. <http://www.prweb.com/
, April 30, 1997, p.S2.

3

“Avalon Correctional Services, Inc. Appoints Dr. Charles W. Thomas to Its Board of Directors,”
Avalon+Correctional+Services,+Inc.+Appoints+Dr.+Charles+W.+Thomas+to...-a074625599>

4

, May 17, 2001. <http://www.thefreelibrary.com/

5

, April 29, 2013. <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-04/tu-

6

cpc042913.php>
7

Kennebec Journal

interest_2013-06-03.html>
Private Corrections Institute, May

8

22, 2013. <http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/PCI%20press%20release%20re%20Temple%20study%205-21-13.pdf>
9

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 13

9. Tax Loopholes and Avoidance

It

is of little surprise how often Corrections
Corporation of America - a private corporation
as possible - has made efforts to avoid paying
taxes. Several cases have brought CCA’s attempts
at tax avoidance to light. In 1998, CCA was sued
by the Cleveland Independent School District in
Texas after the company failed to pay its stipulated
local taxes, reducing its $180,000 tax payment by
$100,000 without prior permission. CCA settled
the case, agreeing to pay $300,000 in outstanding
tax payments before pulling out of its contract
to operate the Cleveland Pre-Release Center.
Meanwhile, at CCA’s Leavenworth Detention
protest with the county in February 1998, arguing
residential rather than commercial. CCA’s request
was denied, with Kansas State Representative
Candy Ruff commenting, “They’re located in a
enterprises. They’ve got these bars on the windows.
They’ve got barbed wire on top of the fence, and
they want to say they’re a residence? Give me a
break.”1

Ironically, CCA has now been able to successfully
use this very same argument to circumvent paying
taxes on a much greater scale, through the tax
strategy of becoming a real estate investment
trust (REIT). Designed to reduce the payment
of corporate federal income taxes, REITs are a
1

special tax designation for companies that focus
on real estate holdings. CCA was able to make the
successful claim to the Internal Revenue Service
that the money they collect from government
entities for holding prisoners is essentially the same
as rent collection, achieving REIT status in 2013.
CCA’s Chief Executive Damon T. Hininger said,
“The good news about this is that we are going to
be able to enjoy a full year of tax savings for 2013.”2
CCA has obviously done its homework following the
company’s disastrous attempt to operate a REIT in
1999 under its Prison Realty Trust (see #14). One
of the conditions of REIT status is that 90% of
income must be distributed to shareholders. CCA
failed to meet these conditions previously because
for 1999.3
and Prison Realty Trust, alleging that material
information had been concealed from shareholders,
and the company had made misleading statements.
In February 2001, CCA settled the lawsuits for
approximately $104 million in stock and cash. Now
found a new market in immigration detention, the
its earnings. At a time of drastic budget cuts
throughout the public sector, CCA expects to make
$70 million savings in tax payments for 2013 due to
its REIT status.4

, March 12, 1998, p.1.
, April 21, 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/business/

2

Nathaniel Popper, “Restyled as Real Estate Trusts, Varied Businesses Avoid Taxes,”

3

Jail Breaks: Economic Developments Subsidies Given to Private Prisons
Noel Brinerhoff, David Wallechinsky, “Private Prison Companies Find Loophole to Avoid Taxes,” AllGov, April 24, 2013. <http://www.allgov.com/news/where-is-the-money-

4

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 14

10. UK Aspirations: Unlawful Death and a Violent Legacy

F

abroad and formed joint ventures with politically
well-connected and experienced security and
to lobby governments, promote prison privatization
and bid for contracts.1

In the 1980s and 1990s the company tried to win
contracts in the United Kingdom (UK), France,
Italy, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. In 1994
C C A
formed a partnership
with Sodexho (as it was
then known) to bid for
contracts outside of the
USA, UK, Belgium and
Australia aiming to split
in English-speaking countries where
CCA would take the lead, and 49/51 per cent in
the rest of the world where Sodexho would lead.
subsequently several more contracts) in Australia.
persuading the government to implement prison
privatization, contracts were hard to come by.2
Ultimately, despite its global aspirations, CCA’s
expansion abroad was limited to the UK and
Australia and by 2000 CCA had sold the majority
of its international operations to Sodexho, only
England. The company’s new strategy was to
concentrate on the US domestic market.
As in the United States, CCA’s presence, as well as the
promotion and implementation of private prisons,
in the UK and Australia was also controversial.
Prisons under CCA’s joint management were
sometimes problematic leading to operational
contract (see #11). There were allegations that
the company’s Australian subsidiary attempted to

research comparing a public prison with the CCArun Borallon prison in Queensland.3
One of the most notorious incidents in a CCAmanaged prison occurred at Blakenhurst prison
management contract. As a result CCA’s joint
venture company, UK Detention Services Ltd,
private prison operator in the UK to cause the
such a death by the use of restraint.4
On December 8, 1995 Alton Manning, a 33 year
old black prisoner on remand for an alleged violent
offence, died as a result of being restrained by
death did not come to light until a subsequent
coroner’s inquest that led to a jury’s unanimous
verdict on March 24, 1998 that Mr. Manning had
been unlawfully killed by UKDS staff.
The coroner’s inquest found that Manning had
agreed to be strip searched on a routine drug
inspection but had refused to squat for a genital
and anal inspection. This resulted in a violent
head and placed in a neck hold. A call was made
for medical assistance after guards noticed the pool
still restraining Manning’s arms and, after asking
the guards to release him, found that he was not
breathing. Manning was pronounced dead shortly
thereafter. A post-mortem examination found that
he had died of asphyxia due to restraint
The inquest also exposed a catalogue of missing
crucial documents and evidence, including the
operational failure of vital surveillance cameras and
the events.
Following the verdict of unlawful killing, seven

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 15

pending an investigation by the government’s
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). They were later
reinstated after no case against them was brought.

the CPS to reconsider, but in 2002 the CPS again
refused. After seven years, the family was forced to
concede defeat in its attempt to seek justice.5

1

For more detailed accounts of CCA’s international operations see Corrections Corporation of America: A Crtiical Look At Its First Twenty Years, Mattera,P, Khan, M, and

2

“The Formation of UK Detention Services,” Hopkins, R.D.N. paper presented at Private Gevangenissen in Nederland conference, Utrecht, December 1, 1993.

3
4

Metropolitan Borough of Dudley ex parte UK Detention Services Ltd., Royal Courts of Justice CO-402-98, Queens Bench Division, February 18, 1998
A Family Destroyed,
, 8 February 2005. <www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/feb/09/ukcrime.prisonsandprobation>

5

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 16

11. Fines, Failures and Scandal: Chased Out Of Australia

Corrections

Corporation of America’s global
aspirations were also focused on the Australian
market where, in 1989, the company formed
the joint venture, Corrections Corporation of
Australia Pty. Ltd. CCA again earned itself further
distinction internationally, this time in the state
of Victoria, as the only private prison operator to
have had a government buy out its contracts due
to failure.
the prison market and was awarded several
management contracts including one in December

Melbourne’s 125-bed Metropolitan Women’s
Correctional Center (MWCC). The prison opened
in August 1996 despite large anti-privatization
protests. It was only a month before concerns
were raised about safety standards, working
conditions and substantially decreased salary
levels in comparison to the public sector.1 MWCC
was plagued by a catalogue of failures under CC
Australia’s management including documented
reports by the Federation of Community Legal
Centers (FCLC) of the brutalization of a remand
and protection prisoner, the widespread prevalence
of drugs, the denial of adequate clothing and
access to medical treatment to women at the center,
as well as allegations that women were subjected to
humiliating strip searches.2 The FCLC also quoted
media reports that CC Australia was attempting
to escape government penalization by covering up
incidents of abuse.
MWCC’s performance was characterized by
numerous reports of staff misconduct. For example,
persuade the woman inside to come out.3 Another
report highlighted the frequent improper use of
tear gas on women at the center, even on prisoners
handcuffed in a prison van4 and a pregnant
woman.5 Following further incidents, including the

death of 23-year-old Paula Richardson in 1998, an
external audit of MWCC’s health service by the
Department of Human Services found there was
no maintenance of clinical standards, the prison
was understaffed and under-resourced, and that self
harm risk assessments were inadequate.6 In 2000,
Victoria’s government commissioned two reports
that looked into private prisons, one of which was
an independent investigation into the management
and operation of Victoria’s three private prisons,
known as the Kirby Report.7
MWCC detailed a lack of safety for both prisoners
and visitors, the overall impression that staff were
not in control, minimal experience and expertise
amongst staff and inadequate physical facilities.
On October 3, 2000, the government invoked
emergency powers to take control of operations at
MWCC. Citing the failure of CCA “to appreciate
the full range of their contractual obligations,”8
as well as a catalogue of operational problems
the contract with Excor principals Corrections
Corporation of America and Sodexho on October
30, 2000, taking the ownership and operation
of MWCC into the public sector. Meanwhile, in
Queensland, a 1999 commission of inquiry found
that CC Australia’s existing contracts (including
at Borallon and Wackenhut subsidiary ACM at
Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre) “did not
9
and the government ended
CC Australia’s involvement in the state in 2000.
Following the loss of its Australian contracts,
and leaving a wake of negative and controversial
its 50 percent
holdings
in
CC
Australia to Sodexho in
2000, instead focusing
its attention on the
United States.

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 17

“Jail staff in union talks,” Australian, September 19, 1996.
12 Months At Australia’s First Private Women’s Prison, Media Conference, August 10, 1997, Federation of Community Legal Centres (Vic) Inc.
3
Victorian Hansard, 5 December 1996.
4
Freedom of Information request by Essendon community Legal Centre 1997.
5
Federation of community Legal Centres Submission to the Russell Review 2000, MWCC Cmmissioner’s Monthly Complaince Report, October 1999, released October 2000.
6
Report to Department of Human Services of Health Services MWCC Clinical Audit, July 2000.
7
, May 2000.
(The Kirby Report), October 2000.
1
2

8

Commissioner, Department of Justice, No. 40, Session 1999-2000, September 13, 2000.
, January 1999.

9

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 18

12. CCA Attempts Takeover of Entire Tennessee Prison System

In 1985 the Tennessee prison system was in crisis.

The state’s prisons were dramatically overcrowded
thanks to a push to expand incarceration through
tough-on-crime policies like mandatory minimum
sentencing laws. Governor Lamar Alexander, whose
wife Honey was an early investor in Corrections
Corporation of America, called a special session
of the legislature to deal with a federal court order
that ruled the Tennessee prison system needed
7,000 prison beds to relieve its unconstitutionally
overcrowded conditions.

As a result, CCA proposed an audacious and at the
time unheard of solution.1 The company offered
to buy the entire Tennessee prison system for $50
million in downpayment, $50 million over the
course of 20 years, and a promise to make $150
million in improvements to the system. In return,
CCA would be paid up to $175 million a year to
operate the system and would be granted a 90 year
lease.2
Governor Alexander was quick to endorse the
idea, and the proposal splashed the company on
the front page of the
with a headline
reading “Company Offers to Run Tennessee’s
Prisons.”3 Tennessee eventually turned down the
offer to privatize its entire prison system. However,
the state passed the Private Prison Contracting Act
of 1986, which authorized the state to contract
with a private company to operate one state
prison. Additionally, the media exposure helped
the company to build its reputation, and paved
the way for future prison takeover attempts. CCA
co-founder Don Hutto commented, “It forced
everyone to take us seriously. The offer ran on a

full front page of the afternoon paper. We were a
national story.”4
CCA later attempted to take over Tennessee’s
entire prison system a second time. In April 1997,
Tennessee Representative Matt Kisber announced
that closed-door meetings had been held with
lawmakers and CCA lobbyists. Kisber joined
Lieutenant Governor John Wilder in sponsoring
a system-wide prison privatization bill, drafted by
a CCA lobbyist. As well as citing potential budget
savings of up to $100 million a year, CCA offered
to pay an additional $100 million “franchise fee” to
operate Tennessee’s prisons.
In the process of promoting the prison privatization
bill, multiple close connections between CCA and
local politicians were unearthed, most notably
Barbecue. The franchise was founded by Governor
Sundquist and his partners included CCA
chairman emeritus Tom Beasley, Speaker of the
House Jimmy Naifeh, the governor’s wife Martha,
and none other than Rep. Matt Kisber. Naifeh and
partnership with Beasley became public knowledge.
Rather ominously, CCA spokesperson Susan Hart
commented, “There are always future [legislative]
sessions.”5

Sam Howe Verhovek, “Politics: Personal Finances; Alexander Still Draws Scrutiny for Making Small Investments
Pay Well,”
, February 28, 1996. <http://www.nytimes.com/1996/02/28/us/politics-personal-

1

2
Donna Selman and Paul Leighton (2010)
61.
3
Donna Selman and Paul Leighton (2010)
4
5

Alex Friedmann, “Tennessee Prison Privatization Bill Fails to Pass,”

. <https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/3792_displayArticle.aspx>

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 19

13. Columbia Training Center Juvenile Abuse

Juveniles are frequently taken advantage of

as
amongst the most vulnerable populations in the
criminal justice system. One egregious example
comes from the Columbia Training Center, a
now-shuttered juvenile facility in Richland, South
Carolina.

The Columbia Training Center was renovated
from a mental health treatment center into a
juvenile detention facility in the 1990s. Originally
run by Rebound, it was intended to hold young
offenders temporarily until they could be placed
in a wilderness treatment program.1 In 1996, the
state decided to end its contract with Rebound
and instead rely on Corrections Corporation of
America to manage the facility. CCA took control
in June; by August, seven young people incarcerated
there had escaped (all were recaptured). CCA
blamed the building, saying that it was never meant
to house 400 people.

P, a fourteen-year old boy, successfully demonstrated
that the boy had not just been physically abused,
but that such abuse was an outcome of a CCA
corporate policy of using excessive force to control
teens at the center.2
and under 100 pounds, was maced, hog-tied, and
placed in a cell with a much larger boy known to
be a violent risk.3 His story was repeated by teens
who alleged similar abuse, such as being dragged
through urine, improperly shackled, and subjected
to teargas. A jury reached a verdict against CCA
the facility had a policy or practice of abusing kids.
CCA was also ordered to pay $125,000 in damages
to William P. Only a year into CCA’s operation of
the facility, South Carolina ended its contract with
CCA, citing numerous problems and continued
dissatisfaction.

Seven escapes pale in comparison to the rampant
allegations of abuse that came out of the Columbia
, February 26, 1997.
Private Corrections Working Group, “South Carolina Hall of Shame,” December 15, 2000. <http://privateci.
org/south_carolina.htm>
3
Tara Herival and Paul Wright, eds.
(2007) New York: W.
1
2

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 20

14. 1990s REIT Disaster and Near Bankruptcy

Real Estate Investment Trust, or REIT, is a category
in the IRS code for companies whose primary
business is in real estate, and those categorized as
REITs are required to distribute at least 90% of
taxable income to shareholders in the form of
dividends.

Fifteen years ago, Corrections
Corporation of America
bet that a conversion to
a REIT would produce
enough surplus cash on hand
necessary for its ambitious
expansion plans. To this
end, CCA Prison Realty Trust, a REIT registered
in Maryland, went public in July 1997 and raised
more than $400 million from its initial public
offering (IPO). Most of the IPO proceeds were
used to purchase nine facilities from CCA, which
then leased them back and continued operating
them under government contracts. Nine months
after CCA Prison Realty Trust was established, it
and CCA announced a plan under which the REIT
would acquire CCA, the management company. By
operating as a subsidiary of the REIT, CCA could
be controlled by insiders and freed from the direct
obligation of reporting quarterly earnings growth,
while CCA Prison Realty Trust would enjoy REIT
In the immediate aftermath of the merger/REIT
conversion, CCA launched what then appeared
Nathaniel Popper, “Restyled as Real Estate Trusts, Varied Businesses Avoid Taxes,”
restyled-as-real-estate-trusts-varied-businesses-avoid-taxes.html?pagewanted=all>

1

In July 1999, CCA announced plans to build
a 2,000-bed, $100 million facility in California
City, California, despite not having secured a
made similar speculative choices in Georgia and
Utah months later. Predictably, CCA’s speculative
dividend obligations, and CCA Prison Realty
Trust soon fell into default under the terms of
its $1 billion credit agreement. In June 2000, the
lost an astounding $730 million, or 85 percent
of its market capitalization. At the beginning of
2000, CCA’s shares were valued at $1. And to add
insult to injury, CCA’s poor performance cost the
company over $100 million in shareholder lawsuit
settlements.
Yet, following this disastrous attempt to become a
REIT, CCA obviously did its homework the second
time around. The company made the successful
claim to the Internal Revenue Service that the
money they collect from government bodies for
holding prisoners is essentially the same as rent
collection, achieving REIT status in 2013. CCA’s
Chief Executive Damon T. Hininger said, “The
good news about this is that we are going to be able
to enjoy a full year of tax savings for 2013.”1

, April 21, 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/business/

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 21

15. CCA, A True Community Player

Corrections Corporation of

America shamelessly
depicts itself as a positive business model that is
locally advantageous for communities. However,
the company’s performance as “a strong corporate
citizen” that “contributes generously to host
communities” jars sharply against the reality.1
Several glaring incidents have brought CCA’s
operation as a community partner into question,
t h e
most recent of which was in
Cibola County, New Mexico.
In December 2012, CCA
sought to take back more than
$1.4 million that had already
been distributed throughout
Cibola County, where the
company operated two
a tax dispute settlement against the county,
protesting three years of property tax assessments
at the prisons. The county commission found that
CCA’s tax value had been over-assessed, requiring
that Cibola County pay CCA back more than $1.4
million. The amount paid by CCA had already
been distributed to several local groups including
the Cibola General Hospital, the Grants/Cibola
County Schools and NUMSU-Grants. County
Assessor Pablo Savendra, who made the appraisal,
commented, “I made a fair market assessment on
both properties of CCA. If the commission so
chooses to support CCA rather than the residents
of Cibola County, so be it.” County Manager Scott
Vinson added, “Letters are going out next week to
each group it will affect. Thankfully the hospital is

in great shape. However, we may need to work with
the college (NMSU-Grants) a little.”2
also been called into question through its efforts to
forcefully impose facilities on towns despite their
opposition. One clear example of CCA’s disregard
for public opinion comes from Pembroke Pines,
Florida, where the company sued an entire town
for trying to “disrupt and derail” plans to build
an immigration detention center.3 CCA brought a
federal lawsuit against Pembroke Pines in March
their plans to build the detention facility. Opposition
was widespread from residents in Pembroke Pines,
with the local government refusing to provide
necessary water and sewer services to the proposed
site. CCA attempted to sway public opinion by
Local resident Ryann Greenberg, who organized
hundreds of residents in
opposition,
said, “They’re trying to bully
their way into this contract.”4
Rather than taking town
opinion into consideration,
CCA refused to budge on
its construction plans, even
after the Immigration and
Customs
Enforcement
abandoned its plans for the
facility.5 In March 2013, CCA’s federal
lawsuit against Pembroke Pines was sent back to
the state court for further proceedings.6

Corrections Corporation of America. See <www.cca.com/about>
Donald Jaramillo, “No Communication Results in $1.3 Million County Payback,” Cibola Beacon, April 16, 2013. <http://www.cibolabeacon.com/news/no-communicationresults-in-million-county-payback/article_666d5b7c-a65b-11e2-a251-0019bb2963f4.html>
3
Chris Kirkham, “Corrections Corporation of America Sues Florida Town For Blocking New Detention Center,”
com/2012/03/09/corrections-corporation-of-america-immigrant-detention_n_1336071.html>
1
2

4

, July 1, 2012. <http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/01/2877692/
southwest-ranches-ice-detention.html>
6
Heather Carney, “Judge Tosses Lawsuit Against Pembroke Pines Over Southwest Ranches Immigration Detention Center,”
, March 22, 2013. <http://www.
5

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 22

16. Oklahoma: Tulsa Takes Back Its County Jail

In

August 1999, Corrections Corporation of

Oklahoma, to operate their new jail, the David L.
Moss Criminal Justice Center. Only a month into
CCA’s operation of the facility, an employee had
mistakenly allowed a prisoner to post bond after
incorrectly recording the nature of her offense.
“This is not something we’re excited about having
had happened, “ CCA’s assistant warden told a
reporter.
Yet this would turn out to be
through which at least
a dozen prisoners were
accidentally released from
custody at the jail.
Some of the mistaken
releases were the result of
administrative errors, but CCA employees at the
Tulsa jail had also been fooled by prisoners who
impersonated others scheduled for release. In
one case, a CCA employee mistakenly opened a
secure door and allowed a prisoner to walk right
tended to place the blame for incidents on low-level
employees, some of whom have been disciplined or
“I was never trained how to read court documents
... No one ever gave me any formal training on how
to do anything there.”1

In March 2002 the Tulsa County Criminal Justice
Authority penalized CCA $5,625 in connection
with the erroneous releases of three prisoners
the month before. CCA Warden Don Stewart
responded to the Authority’s action by saying, “We
do take responsibility.”2
As well as a catalogue of escapes and releases, the
facility was plagued with further controversies. It
was reported that people incarcerated were charged
$8 for aspirin and made to wait for a week to see a
doctor. One critic charged: “This puts their ethical
operators.” “A former CCA supervisor at the jail,
Eugene B. Pendleton, was charged with second
degree rape of two female prisoners. Pendleton had
spent 17 years in prison for murder.” Don Stewart,
the jail’s warden, acknowledged being aware of
Pendleton’s murder conviction, commenting,
“Prospective employees with felony convictions are
not automatically excluded from employment.”3
The series of failures at the David L. Moss Criminal
Justice Center eventually led to the facility’s
takeover by Tulsa County in 2005. Commenting
on the Tulsa County Commission’s decision, thenCCA president and CEO John Ferguson stated,
“Although we are disappointed with the decision of
the Tulsa County Commission, we are very proud
of our accomplishments during our tenure as the
manager of the D.L. Moss jail.”4

Susan Hylton, “CCA Supervisor Fired Over Mistaken Inmate Releases,”
, June 7, 2001.
Susan Hylton, “Jail Authority to Dock CCA’s Pay,”
, March 23, 2002.
3
AFSCME, “Tumultuous Times in Tulsa,”
. <http://www.afscme.org/news/publications/newsletters/afscme-corrections-united/fall-2002-acu-newsletter/
tumultuous-times-in-tulsa>
4
Corrections Corporation of America, “CCA Announces Transition of the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center.” <http://www.cca.com/newsroom/news-releases/25/>
1
2

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 23

17. “Our Country Should Be Ashamed”: The Idaho ‘Gladiator
School’

Topping

the list of institutions plagued by
systemic conditions of violence and brutality is
the Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) or the socalled “Gladiator School.” ICC has the reputation
of being one of the most violent correctional
facilities in the nation, earning its nickname
from
the
persistent
outbreaks of violence at
times watched and even
incited by Corrections
Corporation
of
America’s guards.1

A 2010 Associated
Press report revealed that the facility had
more assaults than all other Idaho state prisons
combined and CCA has settled several lawsuits
concerning severe attacks at the center, including
the video taped incident of prisoner Hanni
Elabed in January 2010.2 The publicly released
surveillance footage shows Elabed being severely
beaten by another prisoner, managing to bang on a
guard station window and plead for help as guards
make no attempts to intervene until Elabed is
knocked unconscious. Following the attack, which
had transferred Elabed from a hospital against his
doctor’s advice to a cheaper in-prison facility before
3
The
settlement regarding the attack.
This was just one of multiple lawsuits that emerged
from a string of brutal incidences, detailing guards
deliberately allowing and even allegedly exposing
prisoners to assaults as a tool of social management,

and denying medical care to prisoners in their
facilities in order to save money and cover up the
number of attacks. In 2010, the escalating levels
federal class action lawsuit on behalf of prisoners
twenty-four separate cases of preventable assault
that occurred between 2006 and 2010.4 Stephen
Pevar, senior attorney for the ACLU, said that
from all his experience in suing over 100 jails and
prisons, he had never seen anything like the level
of violence at ICC, adding, “[our] country should
be ashamed to send human beings to that facility.”5
CCA settled with the ACLU in 2011, and agreed
to curb the high levels of
violence.
However,
despite
a
constitutional duty and
legally binding settlement
agreement to protect
prisoners from violence,
the facility remains plagued by reports of assaults.
In March 2012, prisoner Jacob Clevenger sued
CCA over a severe attack at ICC that he claims
staff neglected to protect him from, when they
placed him in a cell block knowing he was at great
physical risk of attack from rival gang members.
November 2012 is currently in progress, alleging
to control the incarcerated population. The ACLU
continues to express concerns about safety at the
center, highlighting CCA’s possible violation of the
2011 settlement agreement.6

Rebecca Boone, “ACLU sues over Idaho prison so violent it’s called ‘gladiator school’ by inmates,”
, March 11, 2010. <http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.
ssf/2010/03/aclu_sues_over_idaho_prison_so.html>
Rebecca Boone, “Idaho man sues prison company over alleged beating,”
, April 28, 2010. <http://www.correctionsone.com/treatment/articles/2054719Idaho-man-sues-prison-company-over-alleged-beating/>
3
Rebecca Boone, “ACLU Suing Correction Corp. of America,”
, March 11, 2010. <http://www.correctionsone.com/treatment/articles/2017869-ACLU-suingCorrections-Corp-of-America/>
4
“Rebecca Boone, “ACLU sues over Idaho prison so violent it’s called ‘gladiator school’ by inmates,”
, March 11, 2010. <http://www.oregonlive.com/news/
1

2

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 24

index.ssf/2010/03/aclu_sues_over_idaho_prison_so.html>5 “ACLU sues over Idaho prison so violent it’s called ‘gladiator school’ by inmates,”
, March 11, 2010.
5
Philip A. Janquart, “Brutality Alleged at Private Prison,”
, March 26, 2012. <http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/03/26/44997.htm>
6
Rebecca Boone, “ACLU-Idaho Says Corrections Corporation of America May Be Violating ‘Gladiator School’ Settlement,”
, November 14, 2012. <http://www.

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 25

18. CCA Lobbies Against Transparency

The private prison industry often touts its ability
to provide cost savings and better operations than
the public sector. However, neutral studies often
dollars, and often correlate with high staff turnover
rates, lack of programming, and poor quality of
care for those incarcerated.1
The industry as a whole, and Corrections
Corporation of America in particular, have spent
considerable resources to ensure that private prisons
are not subject to the same levels of transparency
as publicly-operated facilities. CCA has actively
lobbied against further efforts to subject it to
transparency laws.
Existing federal Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) regulations do not extend to private prisons.
However, advocates and legislators have for years
argued that privately-contracted facilities should be
subject to open records law. Since 2005, legislators
have introduced the Private Prison Information

Act (PPIA), a federal bill that would subject private
prisons to the same open records laws as publicly
operated facilities. Yet each hearing has been met
with staunch resistance from the private prison
industry, swiftly dying in or before subcommittee
hearings.2 CCA has led this attack, spending
more than $7 million lobbying against various
incarnations of the Private Prison Information Act
since 2007.3
CCA’s efforts to obscure transparency aren’t
limited to lobbying efforts. The company has
also encouraged shareholders to vote against
transparency measures. In 2012, CCA’s board of
directors unanimously recommended shareholders
vote against a shareholder resolution that would
require the company to report on what CCA was
doing to reduce incidents of rape and sexual abuse
4

For neutral studies see: “Private and Public Prisons: Studies Comparing Operational Costs and/or Quality of Service”
, August 16, 1996. <http://www.
gao.gov/products/GGD-96-158> and Arizona State Auditor Study, September 2010. <http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/AZAuditNov2011.pdf>
2
Christopher Petrella, “Private Prisons Currently Exempt from Freedom of Information Act,”
, September 25, 2012. <http://www.nationofchange.org/privateprisons-currently-exempt-freedom-information-act-1348581256>
1

3
4
Jonathan Meador, “CCA Board Votes Down Resolution on Reporting Rape, Sexual Abuse Statistics,”
archives/2012/05/10/cca-board-votes-down-resolution-on-reporting-rape-sexual-abuse-statistics>

, May 10, 2012. <http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 26

19. CCA and ALEC’s Conservative Agenda

ALEC,

the American Legislative Exchange
Council, is a political organization known for
incubating and proliferating conservative political
agendas that have found notorious success in a
variety of policy-making areas, including criminal
private prison industry. At its founding in 1973,
ALEC’s statement of purpose included language
indicating that the organization would not focus
by the 1980’s, the organization shifted focus to
and disseminating model legislation
Although ALEC touts itself as the largest
“membership association of state legislators,”
almost 98% of its revenue comes from sources
other than legislative membership dues, such as
corporations, trade associations and corporate
foundations. ALEC has over 300 corporate
members which all pay between $7,000 and
$25,000 for basic membership, plus additional fees
to sit on one of eight national task forces, as well as
the opportunity to give corporate gifts. The millions
ALEC receives in corporate support is used to pay
for annual gatherings, trips, and meetings where
industry and special interest groups participate
with lawmakers in developing model legislation.
The State Policy Network calls ALEC a “corporate
bill mill” where “corporations hand state legislators
1

Current corporate members of ALEC include
Squibb, Chevron, Comcast, Dupont, the United
Parcel Service and Visa. Also included in this list
are notorious conservative institutions like Cato,
Koch Industries, the Free State Foundation, and
the NRA.
Corrections Corporation of America was a
corporate member of ALEC for over two decades
and participated in key leadership roles within

the
organization
with
members on the Executive
Committee, the Homeland
Security Committee, and
on the Public Safety and
Elections Task Force whose agenda has
included tough-on-crime measures that drove
corporations.
The company was a member of the Public Safety
Task Force, at one time serving as co-chair. This
task force developed model legislation including
mandatory minimum sentencing, three strikes
laws that give repeat offenders 25 years to life,
and “truth-in-sentencing” laws that require that
prisoners serve most or all of their time without a
chance for parole.3
In 2010, State Senator Russell Pearce of Arizona
championed and successfully passed SB 1070,
legislation that requires state and local law
status of people with whom they come into
of undocumented immigrants into detention (see
#21). The law has been the subject of numerous
legal challenges on the basis that it will be enforced
SB 1070 was developed in 2009 in a Public Safety
and Elections Task Force meeting attended by
both Pearce and representatives of CCA.4 CCA is
center for the growth of the private prison industry.
The private prison industry operates about half of
all immigrant detention facilities, and as such, SB
1070 and other anti-immigration legislation that
ALEC has advanced is money in the pockets of
CCA executives, shareholders, and their industry
counterparts. Although CCA reportedly left ALEC

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 27

“Alec Politicians - Source Watch.” <http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/ALEC_Politicians>.
John Biewen, “Corporate-Sponsored Crime Laws,” April 2002. <http://www.americanradioworks.org/features/corrections/index.html>
3
Mike Elk and Bob Sloan, “The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor,”
, August 1, 2011. <http://www.thenation.com/article/162478/hidden-history-alec-andprison-labor>
4
How Corporate Interests Got SB 1070 Passed,”
, November 9, 2010. <http://www.npr.org/2010/11/09/131191523/how-corporate-interests-got-sb-1070passed>
1
2

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 28

20. The Revolving Door: Insider Connections Win Big Contracts
for CCA

Corrections

Corporation of America has long
relied on the revolving door between public
and lawmakers. The following is a short list of
some of the company’s leadership and their former
positions in government which has been compiled
using researched produced by Private Corrections
Institute.
Harley G. Lappin is a former
director of the federal Bureau of
Prisons (BOP). He resigned from the
BOP shortly after being arrested for

Lappin’s tenure at the BOP, the agency
gave a $129 million contract to CCA
to incarcerate immigrants in a facility
in Adams County, Mississippi.1 The
facility later exploded in a riot over
lack of food and health care.2
Senior Vice President J. Michael Quinlan,
who oversees CCA’s quality assurance program, is
a former director of the BOP. He was sued by a
BOP employee who claimed Quinlan had sexually
harassed him in a hotel room; the case settled
3

CCA Board chairman and former CEO John
D. Ferguson is a former Tennessee Commissioner
of Finance and Administration. CCA has three
contracts with the Tennessee Department of
Correction. Ferguson was one of the members of
Governor Don Sundquist’s Transition Advisory
Council, appointed to advise on policy matters
when the state was considering privatizing up to 70
percent of its prison system.4
Board member Dennis DeConcini is a former
U.S. senator from Arizona, and a member of the

of corruption in connection with the Savings and
Loan scandal. The Senate Ethics Committee ruled
that he had acted improperly by interfering with
an investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank
Board, but he was not sanctioned or disciplined.
He also currently serves on the Arizona Board of
Regents.5
Board
member
Thurgood
Marshall Jr. was cabinet secretary
to President Clinton and director of
legislative affairs and deputy counsel
to Vice President Al Gore.6
Board member Donna M.
Alvarado, previously a deputy
assistant to the U.S. Secretary of
Defense, counsel for the U.S. Senate
Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee
on Immigration and Refugee Policy,
and staff member of the U.S. House
of Representatives Select Committee on Narcotics
Abuse and Control.7
its controversial involvement with ALEC, CCA
campaign contributions. The most notable of
these political connections has been in California.
In 2007-08 alone, CCA contributed $234,500 to
California lawmakers, as well as about $45,000
per quarter on lobbyists in California. That same
year, following Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s
emergency proclamation regarding prison
overcrowding, the legislature approved AB 900,
giving the state greater authority to transfer people
incarcerated to private prisons outside the state.
In 2009, CCA contributed $100,000 to
Schwarzenegger’s “Budget Reform Now” coalition.
Six months later, the California Department of

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 29

Corrections and Rehabilitation made the decision
to send an additional 2,336 prisoners to CCA’s
prisons, extending their contract in a deal worth
more than $54 million a year.8 CCA saw the value
of its contracts with California soar from nearly
$23 million in 2006 to $700 million in 2009. The

31-fold increase in CCA’s contracts over three years
rose exponentially with the company’s campaign
donations, from $36, 750 in 2006 (of which $25,000
went to the Republican Party) to $233,500 in 20072008, followed by nearly $139,000 in 2009.9

Bob Libal, “Humpday Hall of Shame: CCA’s Harley Lappin,”
, October 12, 2011. <http://grassrootsleadership.org/blog/2011/10/humpday-hall-shameccas-harley-lappin>
2
Aviva Shen, “FBI Agent: Deadly Riot in Corporate-Run Prison Due to Complaints of Inadequate Food and Health Care,”
, August 14, 2012. <http://thinkprogress.
org/justice/2012/08/14/686361/fbi-agent-deadly-riot-in-corporate-run-prison-due-to-complaints-of-inadequate-food-and-health-care/>
3
James Ridgeway, “Federal Prison Director Defects to Private Prison Company,”
, June 3, 2011. <http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/06/federal-prisondirector-takes-job-private-prison-company>
4
Tennessee Department of Correction, “State Prisons.” <http://www.tn.gov/correction/institutions/stateprisons.html>
5
, March 29, 2012.
1

Bingham McCutchen Ltd., “Thurgood Marshall Jr.” <http://www.bingham.com/People/Marshall-Thurgood>
“CCA increasing size of board with Alvarado appointment,”
, December 12, 2003. <http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/stories/2003/12/08/daily39.
html>
8
Protect Consumer Justice, “Politically connected private prison operators are landing more business,” November 25, 2009. <http://www.protectconsumerjustice.org/privateprison-operator-gets-more-business-after-100k-donation-to-schwarzenegger.html>
9
, January 28, 2010. <http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.php?xid=yl82yoctf9d1au>
6
7

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 30

21. CCA Helps Develop the Detention Business, Profits from
Arizona’s Immigration Law SB1070

In April 2010, the nation took a collective gasp

when SB 1070 was signed into law by Arizona
Governor Jan Brewer. The bill was by far the most
sweeping and harsh state-level
immigration enforcement bill in the
nation. It implemented a so-called
“show-me-your-papers” provision
which criminalized failing to carry
proper immigration documents
and gave police broad powers to
detain anyone even suspected of
being undocumented, raising fears
Latinos.1

Critics of the bill argued that it
would lead to a dramatic increase in the number of
immigrants held in detention centers. Corrections
Corporation of America is the nation’s largest
detainer of immigrants, and stood to directly

Pearce.
Center
level of
to the

Pearce, whom the Southern Poverty Law
has described as having an “astonishing”
“paranoia and bigotry,”2 then took the bill
American Legislative Exchange Council
(ALEC), where he sat on the Public
Safety Task Force. CCA also was
a long-time member of this task
force.3

According to NPR, CCA had a
representative at a secretive ALEC
meeting where model immigration
legislation was drafted that later
became SB 1070. Governor
Brewer, who signed the bill, has
close ties to CCA. Her spokesman
Paul Senseman and campaign manager Chuck
Coughlin are former lobbyists for private prison
companies. What is more, 30 of SB 1070’s 36
sponsors received donations from lobbyists for the
private prison industry (see #19).4

In fact, it appears that the company did play a
role in the development of SB 1070. The bill was
originally drafted by Arizona State Senator Russell
Randal C. Archibold, “Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration,”
, April 23, 2010. <http://www.
nytimes.com/2010/04/24/us/politics/24immig.html>
2
Leah Nelson, “The Astonishing Bigotry and Paranoia of Russell Pearce,”
, July 18, 2012.
<http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2012/07/18/the-astonishing-bigotry-and-paranoia-of-russell-pearce/>
3
“How Corporate Interests Got SB 1070 Passed,”
, November 9, 2010. <http://www.npr.
org/2010/11/09/131191523/how-corporate-interests-got-sb-1070-passed>
4
Laura Sullivan, “Prison Economics Help Drive Arizona Immigration Law,”
, October 28, 2010. <http://www.
npr.org/2010/10/28/130833741/prison-economics-help-drive-ariz-immigration-law>
1

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 31

22. Family Detention and Sexual Abuse at Hutto

Nominally a “residential facility,” T. Don Hutto

is a former medium-security prison, secured by
and a highway overpass, separated from the more

Texas who hoped a prison would bring $4 million
to the local economy, Corrections Corporation
of America (CCA) built Hutto as a mediumsecurity prison for males from Texas and Oregon.
Eventually Hutto became a federal pre-trial
detention center but, by 2003, CCA’s contracts did
not supply enough federal detainees to make Hutto
Hutto from a prison to a detention center.
When Hutto re-opened as ICE’s second “family
residential facility” in 2006, it increased ICE’s
family detention capacity from 84 beds to a total
of 592. The majority of Hutto’s detained families
were asylum-seekers from Central America, Africa,
Eastern Europe, and Iraq.
In the three years that followed, Hutto became
perhaps the most notorious immigrant detention
center in the United States, sparking dozens of
protests, grassroots and major media scrutiny,
litigation, and congressional inquiry. As activists
protested outside of Hutto, attorneys were shocked
by what they found inside. Detained mothers
reported appalling conditions to their attorneys;
families shared small cells without privacy; children
were dressed in prison scrubs; detained persons
were constrained to strict, prison-like schedules

regardless of religious concerns.
Conditions at Hutto violated nearly every right
granted to children in ICE custody by
,
a 1997 settlement that stipulated immigration
procedures for all minors in ICE custody. So, in
March of 2007, the ACLU, The University of
Texas Immigration Law Clinic, and a private law
for the release of 26 children detained in Hutto.
Arguing that the conditions at Hutto caused
irreparable harm to detained children and that the
Flores settlement stated that both release and family
unity should be ICE policy, the attorneys sought to
close Hutto by showing that it was grossly out of
compliance with existing law. The Hutto settlement
outlined massive compliance failures, ranging from
inadequate education, medical care, and nutrition,
to dangerous living quarters for toddlers and
The Obama administration announced the end of
family detention at Hutto in August of 2009 but fell
short of closing Hutto altogether.
Hutto has been the subject of two federal sexual
by the ACLU in 2011 on behalf of immigrant
women who alleged they were sexually assaulted
while in the custody of the U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Texas. CCA
employee Donald Charles Dunn was found guilty
of sexually abusing at least 8 female immigrant
detainees while transporting them from the facility.1
Dunn was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison.

Federal Contractor Misconduct Database – POGO, “Corrections Corporation of America - Sexual Abuse of Immigrant
Detainees in Texas,” October 19, 2011. <http://www.contractormisconduct.org/index.cfm/1,73,222,html?CaseID=1713>

1

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 32

23. “It’s Been A Nightmare”: Violence and Death at Youngstown

The

Northeast Ohio Correctional Center
(NOCC) was built by Corrections Corporation of
America in Youngstown, Ohio and stands out as
a catastrophic failure in CCA’s checkered history
of mismanagement and human rights violations. It
was built (with free land and a 75% tax abatement
from the city) to house prisoners from the District
of Columbia. Almost from the moment it opened
in May 1997, the facility was plagued with violence
and unrest, including multiple stabbings, two
murders, medical-related deaths, and extensive
use of tear-gas on prisoners. When discussing
the Youngstown facility, Peter Davis, director
of the Ohio Correctional Institution Inspection
Committee, said “there is nothing in Ohio’s history
like the violence at that prison.”1

on behalf of the prisoners, alleging high levels of
violence and dangerous conditions at the facility.
The City of Youngstown joined the case in March
1998 after reports of widespread violence emerged.
The following February – by which time there had
been 19 stabbings at the center (including several
fatalities) – a federal judge ordered the District
of Columbia to stop transferring prisoners to
the facility. The federal order drew attention
to
CCA’s failure to properly classify prisoner
populations with different security
levels, showing “a deliberate
indifference to the conditions of
the prisoners” and putting them
at risk of violence.2

Public outrage over the management of the
prison escalated in July 1998 when six prisoners
cut through the prison’s security fencing and
escaped in broad daylight; CCA employees
failed to notify law enforcement agencies in an
appropriate timeframe. An independent review of
the management and operation of the facility in
November 1998 attributed NOCC’s pivotal failures
leaders of both CCA and DOC,” concluding that,
“...most serious problems which endangered the
safety of the public, the staff or the prisoners were
preventable.”3 Despite having initially lured CCA
to the city, the mayor of Youngstown decreed, “It’s
been a nightmare. [CCA’s] credibility is zero.”4
CCA settled the class-action lawsuit in March
1999, agreeing to pay $1.6 million to prisoners
and $756,000 in legal fees. The agreement also
mandated a full-time independent monitor at the
facility as well as an annual review of the prisoner
declined to renew its contract, CCA closed the
prison in July 2001. However, it appears that CCA’s
legacy of violence and managerial ineptitude at the
center was swiftly forgotten; the company reopened
the facility in 2004, this time to predominately
house federal prisoners. Controversies surrounding
the center have not subsided. In May 2012, a court
ruled that CCA owed the city of Youngstown $1.5
million in taxes following three years of outstanding
prison tax payments.5

Greg Jaffe and Rick Brooks, “Violence at Prison Run by Corrections Corp. Irks Youngstown, Ohio,”
, August 5, 1998.
Quoted in Cheryl W. Thompason, “D.C. Must Stop Sending Inmates to Ohio Prison,”
t, February 26, 1998. <http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-633681.html>
3
John L. Clark. “Report to the Attorney General Inspection and Review of the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center,” November 25, 1998. <http://www.justice.gov/ag/
youngstown/youngstown.htm>
4
Quoted in Cheryl W. Thompson, “Ohio Sours on Prison Managed by Private Firm,”
, October 19, 1998. <http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-700310.html>
5
David Skolnick, “Private prison owner CCA appeals ruling on Youngstown tax,”
, October 19, 2012. <http://www.vindy.com/news/2012/oct/19/prison-ownerappeals-ruling-on-city-tax/>
1
2

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 33

24. Securing Beds in Colorado

Colorado has been faced with an enviable problem.

For several years the state’s crime rate and prison
population have been shrinking. By 2013, the state
had just over 20,000 people behind bars, 7,500
fewer than it expected.1 As a result, the state closed

Corrections Corporation of America facility. Of
the 24 state prisons in Colorado in 2012, three were
run by Corrections Corporation of America and
another by GEO Group. With a thousand empty
prison beds, Colorado had an opportunity to shut
down some of its prisons. However, CCA secured
its place in the state through a quiet deal with the
2012. The deal guaranteed 3,300 beds to CCA.
CCA paid its dues in Colorado, investing $200,000
lobbying dollars in Colorado since 2008, including
$2,000 to Governor Hickenlooper.2 The deal,
negotiated by CCA lobbyist and former legislator
Mike Feeley, guaranteed 3,300 beds to CCA, at an
annual rate of $20,000 each, until June of 2013, or
$66,000,000 total.

crimes. In January 2013, Hickenlooper’s chief of
Staff Michelle White announced the governor’s
intention to take the savings from closing prisons
and invest them in ways to reduce recidivism. Since
a third of those incarcerated in Colorado – and two
thirds of incarcerated women in Colorado – suffer
“working very hard to get our people out of jail
who have mental health challenges.”3
Colorado’s CCA prisons are no stranger to
mishandling and lawsuits. In 2009, CCA paid out
$1.3 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit
in which 21 female employees complained of
discrimination, harassment, and sexual abuse at
their jobs.4 A 2004 riot at the Crowley County
Correctional Facility resulted in mass injuries
and hundreds of separate lawsuits that led to a
$600,000 settlement.5 One of the plaintiffs stated,
“[we] weren’t treated as humans, we were treated
more as animals -- animals probably get treated
better.”6

it carries even more weight as a human rights
acknowledged a need to spend more on health
care and rehabilitation for people convicted of
Colorado Public News and Ann Imse, “Fewer Felonies Fewer Facilities: Colorado Prison Closures Would Mean Job Losses,”
post/fewer-felonies-fewer-facilities-colorado-prison-closures-would-mean-job-losses>

1

, January 28, 2013. <http://www.kunc.org/

2

in%20Colorado.pdf>
Kirk Mitchell, “Two of three women in Colorado prisons diagnosed with psychological disorders,”
ci_22726190/two-three-women-colorado-prisons-diagnosed-psychological-disorders>
3

, March 6, 2013. <http://www.denverpost.com/news/

4

Avi Kramer, “8+ years later, case of prison riot comes to trial,” Public Justice, February 7, 2013. <http://publicjustice.net/blog/8-years-later-case-prison-riot-comes-trial>
Alan Gathright, “$600,000 settlement to be paid to inmates injured in riot at Crowley County Correctional Facility,”
, April 24, 2013. <http://www.thedenverchannel.
com/news/local-news/settlement-expected-in-crowley-county-correctional-facility-riot>
5
6

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 34

25. Mismanagement and Violence at Kit Carson Correctional
Facility

The

Kit Carson Correctional Facility is one
example of a CCA facility rife with human rights
violations and scandal. Almost as soon as it opened
in November 1998, reports of sex scandals, drug

infamous Burlington, Colorado facility. Only nine
months later, the prison was under investigation
by the Department of
Corrections
(DOC)
over allegations of
drug smuggling and
charges that up to
15 female employees
were having sexual
liaisons with prisoners,
including rumors of at
least one pregnancy.
DOC
spokeswoman
Liz McDonough said,
“To be candid, we
are monitoring that
place very closely.”1
Shortly after the DOC
investigation, Ron Alford, warden at the center, was
for undisclosed reasons, and CCA guard Shanna
Turpin was charged with introducing contraband
into the facility and accused of engaging in a sexual
affair with a prisoner.
People incarcerated at Kit Carson reported that
staff corruption was so widespread that almost any
substance could be obtained and smuggled into the
facility for the right price. “That place was poorly
staffed, and the people who worked there were
poorly trained,” said Marvin Vasicek, a former
prisoner. “A lot of those people had never worked
in corrections before, and they were just out of their
getting involved in that much under-the-table stuff.”
Staff inexperience was perennially brought to light;

many staff were hired with no prior corrections
experience and were given little training beyond a
few weeks of classroom instruction and one week
of on-the-job training.2
A riot in 1999 that started over a vending machine
swiftly escalated to violent proportions due to staff
actions. Charges were dropped against the rioting
prisoners after a judge pronounced that staff had
improperly responded
to
the
incident.3
dangerous levels, to the
extent that employees
who had been dismissed
for
violations
of
company policy were
rehired.4 The medical
department
was
particularly
affected
announcement
that
medical personnel would
no longer be available on
site and after-hours medical emergencies would be
assigned to an on-call administrator with a pager.
“Our medical situation is kind of weak right now,”
Warden Dolan Waller acknowledged, “but we’re
working to resolve that.”5 Reports of employee
brutality also characterized the center: from the
assault of a prisoner who had threatened to call
his lawyers after not receiving necessary medical
treatment, to others who were violently beaten
by staff after attempting to escape. “I would pay
these guys rent to get me out of here. It’s been an
absolute nightmare,” said one prisoner.
Unfortunately, despite concerns expressed by both
the legislature and DOC over conditions and
operations at Kit Carson, CCA continues to run
the facility, although it remains a site of serious
controversy. In 2004, CCA settled a federal lawsuit

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 35

prescription for 26-year-old Jeffrey A. Buller who
suffered from hereditary angioedema, resulting in
his death a day before his release in May 2001.
And, despite purported operational improvements,
it would appear that CCA has done little to raise
standards at the facility. In September 2007,
employee Teresa Carter was found to have been in
a sexual relationship with a prisoner, conducted in

a staff bathroom. Carter was charged with a felony
count of sexual contact at a penal institution,
receiving a two-year deferred sentence.6 In
December 2011, a CCA guard and a prisoner died
when a CCA transport van crashed off the road
en route from Kit Carson to Limon Correctional
Facility. Speeding and an inexperienced driver
were cited as factors in the crash.7

Alan Prendergast, “McPrison: How a private prison brought jobs - and violence, corruption and scandal – to Burlington,”
www.westword.com/1999-09-30/news/mcprison/>

1

, September 30, 1999. <http://

2

Carla Crowder, “Trouble behind bars,”
, July 3, 2000. <http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-81060596.html>
Carla Crowder, “Prison in Burlington understaffed,”
, October 22, 1999. <http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-67423427.html>
5
Alan Prendergast, “McPrison: How a private prison brought jobs - and violence, corruption and scandal – to Burlington,”
, September 30, 1999. <http://
www.westword.com/1999-09-30/news/mcprison/>
6
, September 6, 2009. <http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_13279083>
7
“Speed, Inexperience Cited in Prison Van Crash,” Colorado Springs Gazette, December 29, 2011. <http://gazette.com/speed-inexperience-cited-in-prison-van-crash/
article/130904>
3
4

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 36

26. The Death of Estelle Richardson

Of

the many tragic deaths that have occurred
in CCA facilities, the violent death of Estelle
Richardson at a CCA facility in 2004 stands out.
Richardson died on June 5, 2004 while in solitary
Facility (MDF) in Nashville, Tennessee. The mother
of two had been in segregation for three weeks at
the time of her death, only let out for one hour a
day for recreation and the occasional shower.1

MDF was chronically understaffed and overcrowded
and, at the time of Richardson’s incarceration,
held 400 more people than the 900 it was designed
for. In the three and a half years leading up to her
death, nine other people had died at the facility.
An autopsy report revealed that Richardson
sustained injuries she could not have possibly
2

four broken ribs, a cracked skull, and internal
organ injuries, consistent with a “deceleration
injury”, meaning that her head and body must have
been slammed on a hard surface. Dr. Bruce Levy,
Tennessee’s chief medical examiner, described her
injuries as a homicide due to “blunt force trauma
to the head.”3

Four guards were indicted in Richardson’s beating
death. However, the prosecutor dropped the
charges for lack of evidence, including the lack
of video of Richardson being removed from
her cell despite prison policy calling
for
such tapes to be recorded. An
investigator reportedly checked
the video camcorder and found
it in working order, bringing
about suspicions about the
whereabouts of the video.4
lawsuit against CCA claiming,
amongst other things, that
Richardson had been maced while
in a caged shower and that she had been found
“oozing blood” from her head weeks before her
death. The lawsuit also claimed that the day before
her death, Richardson had an altercation with
guards who told her to “get her nasty ass up and
clean her room.”5 In April 2006, CCA entered
Estelle Richardson.6

“Advocate Tries To Find Answers In Prisoner’s Death,”
, July 1, 2008. <http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=8588867>
Silja J.A. Talvi, “Meet Gus Puryear: Bush’s Latest Villainous Nominee for a Lifetime Judgeship,”
, May 4, 2008. <http://www.alternet.org/story/84388/meet_gus_
puryear%3A_bush’s_latest_villainous_nominee_for_a_lifetime_judgeship>
3
Letter from Dr. Bruce P. Levy to Senator Patrick Leahy, February 21, 2008. <http://www.againstpuryear.org/Levyletter.pdf>
4
Chris Echegaray, “Inmate’s slaying in CCA custody torments ex-cellmate.” Tennessean, August 1, 2008. <http://www.whokilledestelle.org/estellearticle808.pdf>
5
Ibid.
6
Letter from Alex Friedmann to The Honorable Todd J. Campbell, April 2, 2008. <http://www.againstpuryear.org/campbellletter.pdf>
1
2

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 37

27. Paving the Schools-to-Prison Pipeline

Corrections

Corporation of America has
extended its reach
beyond the corrections
sector and into the
public school system.
Despite not being
a law enforcement
agency or staffed with

CCA employees assisted local enforcement
agencies in conducting school drug raids at
Arizona’s Vista Grande High School. On 31
October, 2012, CCA provided K-9 teams to help
conduct a drug sweep at the school. The school
was put on lock down and all students were lined
up against the walls as dogs patrolled the corridors.
As a result of the raids, three students aged
between 15 and 17 were charged with possession
conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is
perhaps the most direct expression of the ‘schoolsto-prison pipeline’ I’ve ever seen,” said Caroline
of the American Friends Service Committee.1
Former prison warden and correctional specialist
Carl Toersbijns raised questions about involving
a company that has been at the heart of violent
controversies and scandals across the country in

schools, adding, “I don’t think you ought to use
culture, it’s a different setting, it’s a different
approach. It’s inappropriate.”2
Aside from both the ethical questions raised by
CCA’s involvement in school operations and the
fact that CCA is a private corporation that derives
in the drug raids goes directly against the Arizona
Administrative Code, which stipulates that the

enforcement. “They [CCA] use the criminal justice
said Toersbijns. “So, their interest in the criminal

In fact, as a part of the American Legislative and
Exchange Council’s (ALEC) model “Drug-Free
Schools Act,” CCA was involved in advancing
legislation to increase drug law enforcement
presence on public school campuses and tougher
sentencing for drug offenses in “drug-free school
zones” (see #19).

1
“School Allows Private Prison Company To Conduct Drug Sweeps,” CBS Las Vegas, December 1, 2012. <http://lasvegas.cbslocal.com/2012/12/01/school-allows-private-prisoncompany-to-conduct-drug-sweeps/>
2
Beau Hodai, “Corrections Corporation of America Used in Drug Sweeps of Public School Students,”
, November 27, 2012. <http://
www.prwatch.org/news/2012/11/11876/corrections-corporation-america-used-drug-sweeps-public-school-students>

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 38

28. Hawaii Women Removed from Otter Creek in Kentucky After
Sexual Assaults

Dating back to 1995, in efforts to save money and

ease prison overcrowding, the Hawaii Department
of Public Safety has regularly transferred people
to be housed in private prisons on the mainland.
These included the Corrections Corporation of
America-run Otter Creek Correctional Center in
Wheelwright, Kentucky. Anticipated cost savings
came at a price, however, when all 168 female
Hawaii prisoners were removed from the facility
after charges of sexual abuse by CCA guards
surfaced in 2009.
When Hawaii investigators traveled to Kentucky
prison, including a chaplain, had been charged
with having sex with prisoners in the last three
years, and four of those charged were convicted.
Additionally, three rape cases involving guards and
Hawaii prisoners had been recently turned over to
law enforcement authorities.1

A Hawaii woman who was sexually assaulted

Additionally, Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the
Kentucky Department of Corrections, said she was
investigating 23 accusations of sexual assault at the
CCA facility dating back to 2006.3
removal of women incarcerated at Otter Creek,
Alex Friedmann of Prison Legal News, former
CCA prisoner and current CCA stockholder,
proposed to CCA’s board of directors that they
provide biannual reports to their stockholders
about the company’s efforts to reduce incidents of
rape and sexual abuse in their facilities.4 Despite
the sexual assaults at Otter Creek three years prior,
CCA responded to Friedmann’s proposal with a
lengthy rebuttal and recommendations to vote
against it while simultaneously claiming to “take a
zero tolerance approach to prisoner sexual abuse”.
Wouldn’t a company that claims to have taken “a
leadership position on eliminating prisoner sexual
abuse” want their shareholders to know about
those efforts?

in October 2009 against CCA and the State
of Hawaii claiming both parties were aware of
the sexual assault allegations at the facility, but
took no action to prevent further incidents. The
woman was sexually assaulted on Oct. 17, 2007
by former staffer Darren Green, who was later
convicted of second-degree sexual assault.2
Ian Urbina, “Hawaii to Remove Inmates Over Abuse Charges,”
, August 26, 2009. <https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/259_displayNews.aspx>
Beth Musgrave, “Hawaii lawsuit alleges abuse at Otter Creek,” Bluegrass Politics, October 7, 2009. <http://bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com/2009/10/07/hawaii-lawsuit-allegesabuse-at-otter-creek/>
3
Ian Urbina, “Hawaii to Remove Inmates Over Abuse Charges,”
, August 26, 2009. <https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/259_displayNews.aspx>
4
Sadhbh Walshe, “Righting the record on prison rape,”
, March 1, 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/mar/01/shareholdercrusade-prison-rape>
1
2

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 39

29. Murders at Arizona’s Saguaro Correctional Center

In 2012, the families of two slain Hawaii prisoners
Corporation of America and the State of Hawaii.
Clifford Medina, 23, and Bronson Nunuha, 26, were
both attacked and murdered in their cells by other
prisoners at the CCA-run Saguaro Correctional
Center in Eloy, Arizona. Both Medina and Nunuha
were serving short terms for non-violent offenses.
Nunuha had
less than a year
left to serve
year sentence
for burglary
and property
d a m a g e
when
he
was fatally
beaten and
stabbed over
140 times by two members of a prison gang. The
assailants reportedly carved the initials of their
gang into Nunuha’s chest.1 Nunuha was murdered
while in the Special Housing Incentive Program,
or SHIP, where higher security prisoners shared
the same recreational space with those convicted

of less serious crimes. One guard was on duty
to supervise approximately 50 prisoners when
the murder occurred. According to a witness,
the assailants “showered, changed clothes, and
re-mingled with other prisoners” before anyone
discovered Nunuha’s body.2
Just months following Nunuha’s death, at the
same CCA facility, another Hawaii prisoner was
strangled to death by a fellow prisoner in his cell.
for a probation violation when
he was placed in the same
segregation cell as Mahinauli
Silva, who was reportedly a
known gang member with
anger control problems.
According to a witness,
shortly before the murder, Silva
warned that he would attack Medina if he were not
removed from the cell. The CCA staff member’s
response was, “As long as you two don’t kill each
other, I don’t care.” Although CCA staff conducted
rounds in the unit, they did not become aware that
Medina had been killed until Silva informed them
that he lay dead in his bunk.3

Jim Dooley, “Death Penalty Sought In Arizona Prison Murder of Hawaii Inmate,”
, February 16, 2012. <http://www.hawaiireporter.com/death-penalty-sought-inarizona-prison-murder/123>
2
Jamie Ross, “Disturbing Complaint Against Private Prison,”
, February 17, 2012. <http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/02/17/43997.htm>
3
“Family of a Second Hawaii Prisoner Murdered in Mainland Prison Files Suit Against State of Hawaii and Corrections Corporation of America,” ACLU, May 23, 2012.
<http://www.aclu.org/node/34901>
1

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 40

30. “No baby should be born in a toilet in prison”:
Indifference Leads to Death at Dawson State Jail in Texas

It

is no secret that Corrections Corporation
of America has an extensive track record of
indifference for the health and safety of the people
incarcerated in its facilities. Arguably, one of
the more egregious examples of this can be seen
through the rash of preventable deaths at the
CCA-run Dawson State Jail in Dallas, Texas.1 In
from April to November highlighting several
deaths and allegations of maltreatment inside the
facility. Among them were reports of the deaths
of three women, all serving short-term sentences
for non-violent drug offenses. Family members of
the women and others who were incarcerated in
the facility reported gross failure by CCA staff to
provide care or adequately respond to pleas for
help.

The case of
Autumn Miller
was no different.
In 2012, while
serving a oneyear
sentence
at the facility,
Miller gave birth
to a premature infant girl into a toilet
with no medical personnel present.2 Three weeks
prior to giving birth, Miller claims her request for
a pregnancy test and Pap smear were ignored.

Miller’s baby girl, named Gracie, lived only 4 days.
After the revelation of these tragic deaths, two
former CCA guards who worked at Dawson State
Jail came forward to say they know what goes on
inside the facility, and they believe the deaths could
have been prevented.3 The fact that family members,
other people incarcerated at Dawson, and even
former CCA staff have come forward about CCA’s
negligence speaks volumes. Meanwhile, a lawsuit
company failed to release information concerning
its facilities in Texas, including the Dawson State
Records Act. Texas Civil Rights Project attorney
Brian McGiverin commented, “CCA hides the
truth about its management because it knows the
Texans know how to keep government accountable.
Our laws entitle us to check its homework and keep
it honest. At Dawson State Jail and beyond, we
intend to show CCA it is not above the law.”4
On June 10, 2013, following a grassroots campaign
calling on the state of Texas to close Dawson State
Jail, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
informed Corrections Corporation of America
that its contracts for Dawson State Jail and Mineral
Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility, which both end
on August 31, 2013, would not be renewed.5

1
Ginger Allen, “Guards Come Forward In Dawson Jail Investigation,”
, October 8, 2012. <http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/10/08/guard-comes-forward-indawson-jail-investigation/>
2
Ginger Allen, “Premature Baby Born At Dawson Jail Without Medically Trained Personnel,”
, July 10, 2012. <http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/07/10/
premature-baby-born-at-dawson-jail-without-medically-trained-personnel/>
3
Ginger Allen, “Guards Come Forward In Dawson Jail Investigation,”
, October 8, 2012. <http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/10/08/guard-comes-forward-indawson-jail-investigation/>
4
Robert Wilonsky, “Groups sue Dawson State Jail operator, alleging ‘unconscionable and unconstitutional conditions,’”
, May 1, 2013. <http://
thescoopblog.dallasnews.com/2013/05/groups-sue-dawson-state-jail-operator-alleging-unconscionable-and-unconstitutional-conditions.html/>
5
Robert Wilonksy, “Texas Department of Criminal Justice says Dawson State Jail on the shores of the Trinity River will close August 31”
, June 11, 2013
http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/2013/06/texas-department-of-criminal-justice-says-dawson-state-jail-on-the-shores-of-the-trinity-river-will-close-august-31.html/

The Dirty Thirty - June 2013 : Page 41

For more information, please contact Grassroots Leadership at:
info@grassrootsleadership.org or (512) 499-8111
Twitter: @Grassroots_News

www.grassrootsleadership.org

..
Criminal

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes”
ations
Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corpor

A Publication of In the Public Interest | S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 3

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

Major Findings
65 percent of the private prison contracts ITPI received and analyzed included occupancy
guarantees in the form of quotas or required payments for empty prison cells (a “low-crime tax”).
These quotas and low-crime taxes put taxpayers on the hook for guaranteeing profits for private
prison corporations.

Occupancy guarantee clauses in private prison contracts range between 80% and 100%, with
90% as the most frequent occupancy guarantee requirement.

Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Virginia are locked in contracts with the highest
occupancy guarantee requirements, with all quotas requiring between 95% and 100% occupancy.

State-specific Findings:
Colorado: Though crime has dropped by a third in the past decade, an occupancy requirement
covering three for-profit prisons has forced taxpayers to pay an additional $2 million.

Arizona: Three Arizona for-profit prison contracts have a staggering 100% quota, even though a
2012 analysis from Tucson Citizen shows that the company’s per-day charge for each prisoner has
increased an average of 13.9% over the life of the contracts.

Ohio: A 20-year deal to privately operate the Lake Erie Correctional Institution includes a 90% quota,
and has contributed to cutting corners on safety, including overcrowding, areas without secure doors
and an increase in crime both inside the prison and the surrounding community.

2

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

Introduction

I

n 2012, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest for-profit private prison company in the
country, sent a letter to 48 state governors offering to buy their public prisons. CCA offered to buy and operate a state’s
prison in exchange for a 20-year contract, which would include a 90 percent occupancy rate guarantee for the entire

term.1 Essentially, the state would have to guarantee that its prison would be 90 percent filled for the next 20 years (a
quota), or pay the company for unused prison beds if the number of inmates dipped below 90 percent capacity at any
point during the contract term (a “low-crime tax” that essentially penalizes taxpayers when prison incarceration rates fall).
Fortunately, no state took CCA up on its outrageous offer. But many private prison companies have been successful at
inserting occupancy guarantee provisions into prison privatization contracts, requiring states to maintain high occupancy
levels in their private prisons.
For example, three privately-run prisons in Arizona are governed by contracts that contain 100 percent inmate quotas.2
The state of Arizona is contractually obligated to keep these prisons filled to 100 percent capacity, or pay the private
company for any unused beds.
These contract clauses incentivize keeping prison beds filled, which runs counter to
many states’ public policy goals of reducing the prison population and increasing
efforts for inmate rehabilitation. When policymakers received the 2012 CCA letter,
some worried the terms of CCA’s offer would encourage criminal justice officials to
seek harsher sentences to maintain the occupancy rates required by a contract.3
Policy decisions should be based on creating and maintaining a just criminal justice
system that protects the public interest, not ensuring corporate profits.
Bed guarantee provisions are also costly for state and local governments. As
examples in the report show, these clauses can force corrections departments
to pay thousands, sometimes millions, for unused beds — a “low-crime tax” that

“You don’t want a prison system
operating with the goal of
maximizing profits…The only
thing worse is that this seeks to
take advantage of some states’

penalizes taxpayers when they achieve what should be a desired goal of lower

troubled financial position.”

incarceration rates. The private prison industry often claims that prison privatization

— TEXAS STATE
SEN. JOHN WHITMIRE
in response to the CCA letter

saves states money. Numerous studies and audits have shown these claims of cost
savings to be illusory4, and bed occupancy requirements are one way that private
prison companies lock in inflated costs after the contract is signed.

Chris Kirkham, “Private Prison Corporation Offers Cash in Exchange for State Prisons,” Huffington Post, February 14, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.
com/2012/02/14/private-prisons-buying-state-prisons_n_1272143.html
American Friends Service Committee of Arizona, Cell-Out Arizona Exclusive, “Part II: Arizona For-Profit Prison Costs Rose 14%; Now Guarantee 100% Occupancy,”
August 3, 2012. http://tucsoncitizen.com/cell-out-arizona/2012/08/03/cell-out-arizona-exclusive-part-ii-arizona-for-profit-prison-costs-rose14-now-guarantee-100occupancy/
3 Kevin Johnson, “Private purchasing of prisons locks in occupancy rates,” March 8, 2012. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-03-01/buyingprisons-require-high-occupancy/53402894/1
4 A Sept. 2010 report by Arizona’s Office of the Auditor General found that privately-operated prisons housing minimum-security state prisoners actually cost $.33
per diem more than state prisons ($46.81 per diem in state prisons vs. $47.14 in private prisons), while private prisons that house medium-security state prisoners
cost $7.76 per diem more than state facilities ($48.13 per diem in state prisons vs. $55.89 in private prisons), after adjusting for comparable costs. See: http://www.
azauditor.gov/Reports/State_Agencies/Agencies/Corrections_Department_of/Performance/10-08/10-08.pdf
1
2

3

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

This Report
This report will discuss the use of prison bed occupancy guarantee clauses in prison privatization contracts and explore
how bed occupancy guarantees undermine criminal justice policy and democratic, accountable government. Section 1
explains the for-profit private prison industry’s reliance on high prison populations, and how these occupancy guarantee
provisions directly benefit its bottom line. Section 2 discusses the prevalence of bed guarantee clauses, drawing on a
set of contracts that ITPI obtained through state open records requests. Section 3 describes how occupancy guarantees
have harmed states, focusing on the experiences of Arizona, Colorado, and Ohio — three states that have agreed to these
provisions to detrimental consequences. Lastly, Section 4 will discuss our recommendation that governments can and
should reject prison occupancy guarantees.

SECTION 1:

Why quotas are important to the for-profit private
prison company business model

T

he private prison industry has promoted policies and practices that increase the number of
people who enter and stay in prison. It is no surprise that the two major private prison companies, CCA

and GEO Group, have had a hand in shaping and pushing for criminal justice policies such as mandatory minimum
sentences that favor increased incarceration. In the past, they have supported laws like California’s three-strikes law, and
policies aimed at continuing the War on Drugs.5 More recently, in an

“Historically, we have been
successful in substantially filling
our inventory of available beds

effort to increase the number of detainees in privately-run federal
immigration detention centers, they contributed to legislation, like
Arizona Senate Bill 1070, requiring law enforcement to arrest anyone
who cannot prove they entered the country legally when asked.6 The

and the beds that we have

industry’s reliance on a harsh criminal justice system is summed up in a

constructed. Filling these available

statement from CCA’s 2010 annual report: “The demand for our facilities

beds would provide substantial

and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement

growth in revenues, cash flow, and
earnings per share.”
— CCA 2010 ANNUAL REPORT

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.”7

Dina Rasor, “Prison Industries: Don’t Let Society Improve or We Lost Business,” Truthout, April 26, 2013. https://truth-out.org/news/item/8731-prison-industries-dontlet-society-improve-or-we-lose-business-part-i
6 Laura Sullivan, “Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law,” National Public Radio, October 28, 2010. http://www.npr.org/2010/10/28/130833741/prisoneconomics-help-drive-ariz-immigration-law
7 CCA’s 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K
5

4

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

These companies also spend large amounts of money to lobby federal and state lawmakers to advance policies that
protect their bottom line and keep pro-privatization lawmakers in office. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that
CCA spent $17.4 million in lobbying expenditures from 2002 through 2012,8 while GEO Group spent $2.5 million from 2004
to 2012.9 Similarly, CCA spent $1.9 million in political contributions from 2003 to 2012,10 and Geo Group spent $2.9 million
during the same time period.11
While the for-profit prison industry works
hard to ensure harsh criminal laws and elect
policymakers that support its agenda, bed
guarantee contract provisions are an even
more direct way that private prison companies
ensure that prison beds are filled. These
companies rely on occupancy guarantee
clauses in government contracts to guarantee
profits and reduce their financial risk, since
the ability of private prison companies to
ensure prison beds are filled generates steady
revenues. These contract requirements are an
important tool in private prison corporations’
efforts to maximize profits. Private prison
companies have negotiated these clauses
in both older existing contracts and newer
amendments. They have even lobbied
lawmakers to impose bed guarantees on
prison facilities, as the below example from
Colorado shows. Private prison companies
make no secret that high occupancy rates are
critical to the success of their business. During
a 2013 first quarter conference call, GEO Group
boasted that the company continues to have
“solid occupancy rates in mid to high 90s.”12
By contractually requiring states to guarantee
payment for a large percentage of prison
beds, the prison companies are able to protect themselves against fluctuations in the prison population. These provisions
guarantee prison companies a consistent and regular revenue stream, insulating them from ordinary business risks.
The financial risks are borne by the public, while the private corporations are guaranteed profits from taxpayer dollars.

Center for Responsive Politics, http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000021940&year=2002
Center for Responsive Politics, http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000022003&year=2004
10 National Institute on Money in State Politics, http://www.followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=695&y=0
11 National Institute on Money in State Politics, http://www.followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=1096&y=0
12 Nicole Flatow, “Private Prison Profits Skyrocket, As Executives Assure Investors Of ‘Growing Offender Population,’” Think Progress, May 9, 2013. http://thinkprogress.
org/justice/2013/05/09/1990331/private-prison-profits-skyrocket-as-executives-assure-investors-of-growing-offender-population/
8
9

5

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

SECTION 2:

The Prevalence of Quotas in Contracts

T

o understand the prevalence of prison occupancy guarantee provisions in prison privatization
contracts, In the Public Interest (ITPI) analyzed numerous contracts between states and local jurisdictions and

private prison companies. ITPI identified 77 county and state-level private facilities nationwide and collected and analyzed
62 contracts from these facilities. These contracts each relate to the operation of an individual facility within the state or
locality. The contracts that we collected were either given to us by state-level organizations that already had the contracts
in their possession, or we utilized the open records request process with state and local governments. ITPI is currently
following up with states to collect additional information.
Of the contracts that we reviewed, 41 (65 percent) contained quotas. These occupancy requirements were between 80
percent and 100 percent, with many around 90 percent. The highest bed guarantee requirements were from Arizona,
Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Virginia. As mentioned above, Arizona has three contracts that contain 100 percent occupancy
guarantee clauses. Oklahoma has three contracts with

Occupancy Guarantee Provision

a 98 percent occupancy guarantee provision, while

!
!
!
!
!

No clause
95% – 100%
90% – 94%

a couple of Louisiana’s contracts contain occupancy
requirements at 96 percent, and Virginia has one at 95
percent. All major prison companies, CCA, GEO Group,

Below 90%

and Management and Training Corporation (MTC),

Other

have been successful in negotiating prison quotas in
contracts.
Interestingly, prison companies have also been
successful at winning bed guarantee promises even
after a contract that contains no such provision is
executed. Many of these bed guarantee clauses were
added after the initial contract was signed, usually
in a contract amendment. This is consistent with the
prison industry’s approach to revenue growth. In CCA’s
2010 Annual Report, the company explicitly cites

“enhancing the terms of our existing contracts” as one of the approaches it uses to develop its business.13 Additionally,
bed guarantee clauses may be imposed completely outside the contracting process. As discussed in more detail in the
next section, CCA was able to insert a bed guarantee requirement for private facilities into the Colorado fiscal year 2013
state budget, completely circumventing the contract amendment process.14 The percentage of facilities that actually have
bed guarantee requirements may be higher than an analysis of their contracts alone indicate.

13
14

CCA’s 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K, page 10
Colorado WINS, “Imprisoned by Profit: Breaking Colorado’s Dependency on For-Profit Prisons, February, 27, 2013.
http://coloradowins.org/2013/02/27/imprisoned-by-profit-breaking-colorados-dependence-on-for-profit-prisons/

6

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

7

SECTION 3:

Impacts of Prison Quotas

B

ed guarantee clauses can have measureable impacts on a state’s criminal justice policy, the state budget,
the functioning of a specific facility, and the community. This section focuses on the experiences of Colorado, Arizona,

and Ohio and describes the specific impacts that bed guarantee clauses have had on their states. All three states have
prison facilities operated by private prison companies with occupancy guarantees in their contracts, and all three states
have suffered detrimental consequences as a result.

Colorado
Colorado has experienced a sizable reduction in its prison population.
In the past decade, the crime rate has dropped by a third, and since
2009, five prisons have been closed. The state projects that two to ten
additional prisons could close in the near future, depending on the size of
the facilities chosen.15 This decrease in prison population propelled CCA,
which operates three private prisons in the state, to take action. Last year,
CCA negotiated the insertion of a bed guarantee provision in the state
budget for all three of its facilities for the 2013 fiscal year. Even though all
three contracts for these facilities include explicit language specifying that
“the state does not guarantee any minimum number of offenders will be
assigned to the contractors’ facility,” the company was able to circumvent the contracting process and mandate occupancy
guarantees long after the contract was negotiated and signed.
In 2012, the state began a utilization study to analyze which facilities made the most sense to close, but did not want
any to shut down any facilities until the formal analysis was complete. In response to these preliminary discussions,
CCA threatened to close one of its private facilities. Behind closed doors and without any public hearings, CCA and the
Governor’s Office and the Joint Budget Committee negotiated a deal.16 In exchange for keeping the facility open, the state
agreed to a bed guarantee, which required Colorado to keep at least 3,300 prisoners in the three CCA facilities, at an annual
rate of $20,000 per inmate for the 2013 fiscal year.17
Instead of using empty bed space in its state-run facilities, the Colorado Department of Corrections housed inmates in
CCA’s facilities to ensure they met the occupancy requirement. Colorado taxpayers must pay for the vacant state prison
beds and for the per diem rate for inmates redirected to the CCA facility to fulfill the bed guarantee.18 The Colorado
Criminal Justice Reform Coalition estimates that the deal cost the state at least $2 million.19 The Colorado Springs Gazette
notes that the figure could be even higher. As of March 2013, the state already had 1,000 empty beds in various state
prisons and that number was projected to increase by almost 100 beds per month.20 Legislators predicted that the inmate
Ann Imse, “State pays millions as prison populations sink,” Colorado Springs Gazette, March 9, 2013. http://gazette.com/state-pays-millions-as-prison-populations-sink/
article/152065
16 Ibid.
17 Ibid.
18 Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, “Prison population update and overview,” December 3, 2012.
19 Ann Imse, “State pays millions as prison populations sink,” Colorado Springs Gazette, March 9, 2013. http://gazette.com/state-pays-millions-as-prison-populations-sink/
article/152065
20 Ann Imse, “State pays millions as prison populations sink,” Colorado Springs Gazette, March 9, 2013. http://gazette.com/state-pays-millions-as-prison-populations-sink/
article/152065
15

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

population would drop between 160 to 1,256 people by June 2013, but by February 2013, the total had already fallen
by 1,700 inmates.21 The occupancy requirement not only ensured that CCA continued to receive a guaranteed level of
revenue each month despite the decrease in inmates, but also had the effect of diverting inmates away from available
public prison beds. Colorado originally intended its private prisons to be used for overflow purposes, but the bed
guarantee provisions allowed it to become the first priority for placement.
The below chart shows how the inmate population in CCA facilities decreased as state prison population also decreased
until 2012, when the CCA inmate population increased, as a result of the bed guarantee deal.

CCA Colorado Total Inmate Population

4,000
3,800
3,600
3,400
3,200
3,000

SEPT
2011

JAN
2012

MAR
2012

JUNE
2012

SEPT
2012

OCT
2012

Source: Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, CO DOC monthly population reports

Arizona
100% Bed Guarantees at Three Facilities
Private prison companies were successful in inserting the highest
prison bed guarantee into contract amendments for the three oldest
private prison facilities in Arizona: Arizona State Prison – Phoenix West
and Arizona State Prison — Florence West, both operated by the GEO
group; and the Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility,
operated by Management and Training Corporation (MTC). All three
contracts require the state to fill or compensate the company for every
available bed. The bed guarantee provisions were the result of an
agreement between the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) and
the private prison companies in 2008. In this “deal,” the corporations
agreed to lower rates for emergency beds meant to temporarily house
an overflow of prisoners, in exchange for the state accepting a 100 percent occupancy guarantee for all regularly-rated
beds in all three facilities. Even with the addition of the 100 percent bed guarantee clauses, an August 2012 analysis from
Tucson Citizen shows that the per-prisoner, per-day rates for the three facilities have increased by an average of 13.9
percent since the contracts were first awarded. 22
Ann Imse, “State pays millions as prison populations sink,” Colorado Springs Gazette, March 9, 2013. http://gazette.com/state-pays-millions-as-prison-populationssink/article/152065
22 American Friends Service Committee of Arizona, Cell-Out Arizona Exclusive, “Part II: Arizona For-Profit Prison Costs Rose 14%; Now Guarantee 100% Occupancy,”
August 3, 2012. http://tucsoncitizen.com/cell-out-arizona/2012/08/03/cell-out-arizona-exclusive-part-ii-arizona-for-profit-prison-costs-rose14-now-guarantee-100occupancy/
21

8

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

9

The details of the contract for the Marana facility reveal an even worse deal for Arizona taxpayers. Amendment 14, signed
in June 2011, refers to a dispute between ADC and private prison company, MTC, in which the company claimed that the
5-year contract renewal was not performed in a timely manner. ADC maintained it was. The settlement for this dispute
included ADC paying the company for 500 beds, including 50 which were identified as reduced-rate emergency beds, at
the full per diem rate with the 100 percent guaranteed occupancy requirement. Incredibly, this agreement was applied
retroactively, effectively erasing all but three months of the reduced rate for the emergency beds. The settlement results in
an additional $2,659,390 in revenue to MTC through the remainder of the contract, which expires in October 2013.23
Despite MTC’s guaranteed revenue, the Marana facility has been plagued by safety problems. In a security review in August
2010, state inspectors found broken security cameras, swamp coolers out of commission, insecure doors and windows on
housing units, inadequate perimeter lighting, and broken control panels that failed to alert staff when inmates opened
exterior doors. When inspectors returned in March 2011 to perform the annual audit, problems persisted, including broken
security cameras and control panels24

Arizona State Prison — Kingman
The Kingman facility, a prison with a 97 percent
bed guarantee clause, has been troubled with
pervasive safety issues, ultimately leading to
the escape of three prisoners in July 2010 and
the murder of a New Mexico couple. Among the
security issues identified at the MTC-operated
facility that allowed for the escape were: a broken
alarm, burned-out perimeter lights, broken security
equipment, and a lackadaisical approach to safety
by the private prison staff, including ignoring
alarms, leaving their patrol posts, and leaving doors
open and unwatched.25 After the escape, the state
pulled 238 high-risk prisoners out of the facility and
refused to send any additional prisoners to Kingman until MTC fixed the identified problems. It took MTC eleven months to
address the issues, during which time ADC refused to pay the 97 percent bed guarantee. In January 2011, MTC filed a claim
against ADC, complaining about the decrease in profits caused by the state’s refusal to cover the empty beds. They BTLFE
for nearly $10 million to cover their losses. In another poor deal for Arizonans, ADC agreed to return to paying the 97 QFSDFOU
rate on May 1, 2011, even though the empty beds would not yet be filled, in exchange for MTC dropping its claim. "%$FOEFE
up paying over $3 million for the empty beds.26

American Friends Service Committee of Arizona, Cell-Out Arizona Exclusive, “Part II: Arizona For-Profit Prison Costs Rose 14%; Now Guarantee 100% Occupancy,”
August 3, 2012. http://tucsoncitizen.com/cell-out-arizona/2012/08/03/cell-out-arizona-exclusive-part-ii-arizona-for-profit-prison-costs-rose14-now-guarantee-100occupancy/.
24 Bob Ortega, “2010 escape at Kingman an issue for MTC’s bid,” The Arizona Republic, August 11, 2011. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/08/11/
20110811MTC-bid-issue-2010-escape-at-kingman.html
25 Bob Ortega, “Arizona prisons slow to fix flaws in wake of Kingman escape,” The Arizona Republic, June 26, 2011. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/06/26/
20110626arizona-prison-safety-improvements.html
26 Bob Ortega, “Arizona prison oversight lacking for private facilities: state weighs expansion even as costs run high,” The Arizona Republic, August 7 ,2011. http://www.
azcentral.com/news/articles/20110807arizona-prison-private-oversight.html
23

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

Ohio
Ohio’s experiences with prison privatization are plagued with stories
of mismanagement, violence, and unexpected costs. Though crime
rates in the state have been decreasing, the private prison industry
continues to ensure that prisons remain as full as possible. In both the
Lake Erie Correctional Institution and the North Coast Correctional
Treatment Facility, bed guarantees have helped protect the private
prison industry’s profits.

Lake Erie Correctional Institution
The 2011 sale of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut,
Ohio, to CCA was lauded by the private prison industry as an innovative cost-cutting move that would save the state of
Ohio money, while improving the quality of services provided to inmates. A look at prison operations after the sale tells a
very different story.
Bundled with the sale of the facility was a 20-year contract between the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Correction and CCA for operation of the prison. This contract includes a 90 percent bed guarantee clause, which holds
Ohio, and ultimately its taxpayers, accountable for ensuring that 1,530 of the 1,700 available beds in the prison are
occupied, or for compensating for unused beds. After purchasing the prison, CCA squeezed in an additional 300 beds,
even converting an area where prisoner re-entry classes were held into sleeping space.27 A November 2012 government
audit found that the addition of the 300 beds brought the facility out of compliance with minimum square footage per
inmate requirements.28 The high occupancy requirement, especially when applied to a facility not originally designed for
the additional 300 converted beds, has contributed to overcrowding, and the deplorable conditions and safety issues that
persist in the facility. 29
Multiple examples of unacceptable living conditions are described in a troubling government audit from September
2012.30 The report describes a chronically overcrowded facility, with numerous cases of triple bunking, cramming three
inmates into a cell designed for two, which left inmates sleeping on the floor, some without mattresses. Recreation
areas without secure doors were used for housing inmates and minimum square footage per inmate requirements were
not observed. Numerous other health and safety conditions were noted in the audit as well. The overcrowding and
mismanagement of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution has led to numerous safety issues, including a rise in violent
incidents and disturbances. Both staff and inmates interviewed for the audit reported that personal safety was at risk, and
that “assaults, fights, disturbances, and uses of force have all increased in comparison to prior years.”31 Even the city of
Conneaut has seen increased crime related to the issues at the prison, as drugs and other contraband materials thrown

Chris Kirkham, “Lake Erie Prison Plagued by Violence and Drugs After Corporate Takeover,” Huffington Post, March 22, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.
com/2013/03/22/lake-erie-prison-violence_n_2925151.html
28 Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 2012 Full Internal Management Audit Report, September 25, 2012. http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/sites/
default/files/prison-audit-report%20OHIO.pdf
29 The ACLU Ohio continues to monitor the conditions at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution. In May 2013, they released a timeline chronicling problems at the
facility, which can be found at http://www.acluohio.org/crisis-in-conneaut-timeline.
30 Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, LaECI Audit Reinspection, November 15, 2012. http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/ccareinspection.pdf
31 Gregory Geisler, Correctional Institution Inspection Committee Report on the Inspection and Evaluation of the Lake Erin Correctional Institution, January 22-23,
2013. http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/lakeeriereport.pdf
27

10

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

over the fence for inmates to retrieve have been reported.32 The occupancy requirement not only creates perverse
incentives to encourage the facility to keep as many “heads in beds,” but does so at the expense of the health and safety of
the inmates and the larger Conneaut community.

North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility
The privatization experiment at the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton, Ohio also suffered as a result
of bed guarantee requirements in its contract. In a 2000 contract between the OHDRC and the private prison company
CiviGenics (now part of private prison company Community Education Centers), a 95 percent bed guarantee risked the
safety of the facility. Originally intended to house primarily drunk-driving offenders, the bed guarantee ensured that even
if the state of Ohio did not convict 665 persons of felony drunk driving offenses, they would pay CiviGenics for that level
of operation in their 700-person facility. In an effort to fill North Coast to 95 percent capacity, the state sent inmates who
had been convicted of more serious crimes, including sexual battery, assault, arson, manslaughter, and robbery, when
it could not fill the facility with drunken-driving offenders.33 The facility, designed to hold only felony drunken-driving
and nonviolent drug offenders, was not properly equipped for these changes in the inmate population, and the facility
suffered from riots, safety problems, and other contract violations, as well as unstable staffing, including four different
people serving as warden.34 Ultimately, the contract was taken from CiviGenics and given to another private prison
company, Management Training Corporation, and later combined with the Grafton Correctional Institution and returned
to public control.
As the three case studies show, these small contract clauses can have enormous ramifications. Bed guarantee clauses
bind the state to pay for beds that they may not need or use at the time of contract signing or at any point in the future.
Some prison contracts last for up to 20 years. It is virtually impossible for states to predict prison population trends for a
few years forward, let alone decades into the future. The state loses flexibility to deal with changing circumstances that a
public facility would afford. Furthermore, states may enact policies or engage in practices that keep prison facilities full,
in an effort to fulfill bed occupancy guarantees. As the Ohio experience above shows, this can lead to facilities holding
more dangerous inmates than they are designed to house. Or prisons may be filled beyond capacity, leaving a facility
overcrowded and a breeding ground for violence. The cities in which these facilities are located may feel the effects of the
increased violence, as drug use and gang activity overtake prisons and seep into the community.
If the state decides not to keep prison beds filled, bed guarantee clauses can wreak havoc on state budgets. Numerous
examples show that these provisions can cost states millions of dollars. At a time when government budgets are
shrinking, cities and states cannot afford the financial risk of prison privatization. In the long-term, governments,
taxpayers, and communities cannot afford the damage that these provisions cause to the very foundations of our criminal
justice system.

Chris Kirkham, “Lake Erie Prison Plagued by Violence and Drugs After Corporate Takeover,” Huffington Post, March 22, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.
com/2013/03/22/lake-erie-prison-violence_n_2925151.html
33 ACLU Ohio, “Prisons for Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization.” http://www.acluohio.org/assets/issues/CriminalJustice/PrisonsForProfit2011_04.pdf
34 Policy Matters Ohio, “Selective Celling: Inmate Population in Ohio’s Private Prisons” May 2001. http://www.policymattersohio.org/selective-celling-inmatepopulation-in-ohios-private-prisons
32

11

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

SECTION 4:

Recommendations

B

ed guarantee clauses can have broad negative implications for government entities, even beyond
obvious financial concerns. As discussed in the report., these clauses can result in dangerously unsafe conditions,

and tie the hands of lawmakers and correctional agencies. Our analysis leads to one clear conclusion: bed guarantee
clauses should be prohibited in any private prison contract. We offer the following recommendations on ways to avoid
the pitfalls that come with bed guarantees.

Governments Can and Should Reject Bed Guarantee Clauses
As ITPI’s analysis shows, there are a number of private prison contracts without bed guarantee clauses. In our review of
many Texas private prison contracts, we found that no contract contained a bed guarantee clause. The state’s contracts
with private prisons specifically state that the payment schedule is based on occupancy levels determined by the official
count of the number of inmates who are present at the facility at the end of each day calculated at midnight (what
Texas refers to as the “The Midnight Strength Report”). State and local governments should not agree to bed guarantee
provisions during the initial contract signing or any subsequent amendment. Instead payments to the contractor should
be based on the actual daily count of the number of inmates housed in a facility. Enacting state legislation that prohibits
occupancy guarantee clauses allows the government contracting agency to take the discussion of these provisions out of
the negotiating process, and reject them based on state law.
Prison occupancy quotas require the government to spend public dollars on housing and supervision of a certain
number of inmates, whether a prison is empty or full. With governmental priorities pulling public funds in so many
different directions, it makes no financial sense for taxpayers to fund empty prison beds. From a financial standpoint, bed
guarantee clauses are insupportable for government entities.
Private prison companies often attempt to lure governments into agreements with bed guarantee clauses by promising a
lower per diem cost. However, bed guarantees do not secure jurisdictions lower per diem rates, as evidenced by Arizona’s
experience of per diem rates rising 13.9 percent even after the bed guarantee was added to the contracts.35 With better
understanding of the per diem rates in private prison contracts in similar facilities in other jurisdictions, governments can
negotiate reasonable per diem rates without resorting to bed guarantees.
Bed guarantee clauses can also tie the hands of lawmakers. If lawmakers determine that there are more effective ways of
dealing with specific criminal offenses than prison time, bed guarantee clauses may restrict their options. If lawmakers
pass rules that have the effect of decreasing the prison population, if law enforcement officials take action that results in
a reduced prison population, or if the crime rate simply drops, the government might be responsible for funding empty
prison beds. In the words of Roger Werholtz, former Kansas secretary of corrections, “My concern would be that our state
would be obligated to maintain these (occupancy) rates and subtle pressure would be applied to make sentencing laws
more severe with a clear intent to drive up the population.”36
Furthermore, private corporations interested in running public prisons should be forced to run a competitive business in
American Friends Service Committee of Arizona, Cell-Out Arizona Exclusive, “Part II: Arizona For-Profit Prison Costs Rose 14%; Now Guarantee 100% Occupancy,”
August 3, 2012. http://tucsoncitizen.com/cell-out-arizona/2012/08/03/cell-out-arizona-exclusive-part-ii-arizona-for-profit-prison-costs-rose14-now-guarantee100-occupancy/
36 Kevin Johnson, “Private purchasing of prisons locks in occupancy rates,” March 8, 2012. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-03-01/buyingprisons-require-high-occupancy/53402894/1
35

12

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

the open market. When entering a contract to operate a prison, a private company should be required to take on some
risk. If the company fails to perform well, a bed guarantee clause should not serve as the company’s financial safety net.
In many cases, private prison beds were intended to be a safety valve to address demand that exceeded public capacity.
It was never intended that taxpayers would be the safety valve to ensure private prison companies’ profits.
Elimination of bed guarantee clauses will allow lawmakers to enact policies that are in the public interest, not in a private
prison corporation’s financial interest. Corrections agencies should not be forced to direct prisoners to certain private
facilities because of bed guarantee clauses. Criminal justice policy and programs should be guided by our public goals,
such as reducing the number of people in prison. Rejecting bed guarantee clauses allows public officials to make the best
decisions in the public’s interest.

For additional information about public interest protections in prison privatization contracts, please see In the Public Interest’s
October 2012 publication titled “Essential Public Interest Protections for Prison Privatization Contracts” at:
http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/sites/default/files/Prison_Privatization_FINAL.pdf.
In the Public Interest also recently released a set of legislative proposals, called the Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda. Among other
important responsible contracting provisions, this agenda encourages lawmakers to ban contract language that guarantees
company profits, including provisions such as occupancy guarantees. You can find the full Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda at:
http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/sites/default/files/ITPI-The-Taxpayer-Empowerment-Agenda.pdf.

13

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

Appendix
which contracts ITPI received and which contracts contained occupancy guarantee clauses.
Facility

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

14

Facility

The below chart documents the privatized facilities identified by In the Public Interest, and includes information about

Company

Location

Customer

Have
Contract?

Current

Hudson Correctional Facility

GEO

Hudson, CO

AK

Arizona State Prison —
Florence West

GEO

Florence, AZ

AZ

Arizona State Prison —
Phoenix West

GEO

Phoenix, AZ

AZ

Expiration
Date

September 2013 Section 4.01 — 80% with exceptions for ramp-up
or ramp-down or transportation dates
October 2017

Current

Central Arizona
Correctional Facility

GEO

Florence, AZ

AZ

Arizona State Prison — Kingman

MTC

Kingman, AZ

AZ

Current

Marana Community
Correctional Treatment Facility

MTC

Marana, AZ

AZ

Current

La Palma Correctional Center

CCA

Eloy, AZ

CA

Current

Occupancy Guarantee?

(if known)

July 2017

100%

Company

Location

Customer

Have
Contract?

Expiration
Date

June 2013

Coffee Correctional Facility

CCA

Nicholls, GA

GA

Current

Jenkins Correctional Center

CCA

Millen, GA

GA

Current

Wheeler Correctional Facility

CCA

Alamo, GA

GA

Current
Current

(if known)

Occupancy Guarantee?

2011 amendment — 90%

Davidson
County, TN

Silverdale Detention Facilities

CCA

Chattanooga, TN

Hamilton
County, TN

Bartlett State Jail

CCA

Bartlett, TX

Bradshaw State Jail

CCA

Bridgeport Pre-Parole
Transfer Facility

CCA

Dawson State Jail
Mineral Wells Pre-Parole
Transfer Facility

Idaho Correctional Center

CCA

Kuna, ID

ID

Current

June 2014

Kit Carson Correctional Center

CCA

Burlington, CO

ID

Current

July 2014

June 2014

97% according to AFSC AZ, Amendment 2 — 90%

Marion County Jail II

CCA

Indianapolis, IN

IN

Amendment 9 — 100% for specified period

New Castle Correctional Facility

GEO

New Castle, IN

IN

Current

January 2015

Section 3.01 — 90%

Plainfield Indiana STOP Facility

GEO

Plainfield, IN

IN

Current

March 2015

Current

Included in 2012-2013 budget, guarantee for 3,300
beds for all CCA facilities. Contract: 2.1.1. “The State does
not guarantee any minimum number of Offenders will
be assigned to Contractor’s Facility.”
Section 3.2 — No guarantee for the first 6 months and
then 80% (320/400 beds)

December 2017
Amendment 4 — 90%, also fixed monthly payments
for annex

Marion Adjustment Center

CCA

St. Mary, KY

KY

Tallahatchie County
Correctional Facility

CCA

Tutwiler, MS

CA

Current

June 2013

Section 3.01 — 90%

Winn Correctional Center

CCA

Winnfield, LA

LA

Current

June 2020

Section 3.1 — 96%

Central Valley Modified
Community Correctional Facility

GEO

McFarland, CA

CA

2012

Exhibit 6.14, Amendment 9 — 90%

Allen Correctional Center

GEO

Kinder, LA

LA

Current

July 2020

Section 3.1 — 96%

CCA

Woodville, MS

MS

Desert View Community
Correctional Facility

GEO

Adelanto, CA

CA

2012

Exhibit A, G.7, Amendment 9 — 90%

Wilkinson County
Correctional Facility

Golden State Medium
Community Correctional Facility

GEO

McFarland, CA

CA

Current

McFarland Community
Correctional Facility

GEO

McFarland, CA

CA

2010

Red Rock Correctional Center

CCA

Eloy, AZ

CA/HI

Current CA
portion

January 2024

Bent County Correctional Facility

CCA

Las Animas, CO

CO

Outdated

June 2013

Included in 2012/2013 budget, guarantee for
3,300 beds for all CCA facilities Contract: 2.1.1. “The
State does not guarantee any minimum number of
Offenders will be assigned to Contractor’s Facility.”

Correctional Treatment Facility

CCA

Washington, DC

DC

Bay Correctional Facility

CCA

Panama City, FL

FL

Current

Graceville Correctional Facility

CCA

Graceville, FL

FL

Current

Lake City Correctional Facility

CCA

Lake City, FL

FL

2009

Indefinite

Original contract, section 7 — 90%

Moore Haven Correctional Facility

CCA

Moore Haven, FL

FL

Current

July 2013

Section 7.1 — 90%

Citrus County Detention Facility

CCA

Lecanto, FL

Citrus County,
FL

Current

September 2015

Blackwater River
Correctional Facility

GEO

Milton , FL

FL

Current

April 2013

Section 7.1 — 90%

South Bay Correctional Facility

GEO

South Bay, FL

FL

2009

July 2014

Article 7 — 90%

Gadsden Correctional Institution

MTC

Gadsden, FL

FL

Current

July 2013

p. 93, Section 7.1 — 90%

September 2013 Section 7.1 — 90%

June 2013

June 2013

East Mississippi
Correctional Facility

MTC

Meridian, MS

MS

Marshall County
Correctional Facility

MTC

Holly Springs, MS

MS

Walnut Grove Correctional Facility

MTC

Walnut Grove, MS

MS

Crossroad Correctional Facility

CCA

Shelby, MT

MT

New Mexico Women’s
Correctional Facility

CCA

Grants, NM

NM

Current

Guadalupe County
Correctional Facility

GEO

Santa Rosa, NM

NM

Current

Section 4.1 — 90%

Lea County Correctional Facility

GEO

Hobbes, NM

NM

Current

Section 4.1 — 90%

Northeast New Mexico
Detention Facility

GEO

Clayton, NM

NM

Current

August 2013

Lake Erie Correctional Institution

CCA

Conneaut, OH

OH

Current

June 2032

Original contract w/ MTC, page 12 — 95%, more recent
w/ CCA, noted in attachment 7, cost summary —90%

North Central
Correctional Complex

MTC

Marion, OH

OH

Cimarron Correctional Facility

CCA

Cushing, OK

OK

Current

June 2014

Original contract, Article 7, amndmt 5 & 6 — 98%

Davis Correctional Facility

CCA

Holdenville, OK

OK

Current

June 2014

Original contract, article 7, amndmts 5 & 6 — 98%

Lawton Correctional Facility

GEO

Lawton, OK

OK

Current

June 2013

Amendments 1 & 2, Article 7 — 98%

August 2013
June 2013

Section 4.1 — 580/611 (95%)

Daily credit for unoccupied beds during initial 60-day
ramp-up period

continued

p. 98, 7.1 — 90%
continued

TN

Nashville, TN

HI

Section 3.01 — 90%

June 2013

Clifton, TN

CCA

GA

Eloy, AZ

June 2013

Current

CCA

Metro-Davidson County
Detention Facility

Milledgeville, GA

CCA

Current

CO

South Central Correctional Center

Section — 90% guarantee

GEO

CA

Olney Springs, CO

TN

July 2013

Riverbend Correctional Facility
Saguaro Correctional Center

Sayre, OK

CCA

Whiteville, TN

TN

CCA

Crowley Correctional Facility

CCA

Whiteville, TN

ID

Included in 2012/2013 budget, guarantee for
3,300 beds for all CCA facilities Contract: 2.1.1. “The
State does not guarantee any minimum number of
Offenders will be assigned to Contractor’s Facility.”

Hardeman County
Correctional Center

CCA

Kuna, ID

Section 3.01 — 90%

Customer

Whiteville Correctional Facility

MTC

Exhibit B, 1.C — 70%

Location

2011, 2012, 2013 amendments — 90%

Idaho Capp Facility

Exhibit 6.14 — 90%

Company

June 2013

North Fork Correctional Facility

June 2016

How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits Guarantee Profits

15

Facility

Original contract, p. 2, part 2B & 2013 amendment
— 90%,

Amendments 7, 9, 11: 100% for emergency/
temporary beds

December 2016

June 2013

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

Have
Contract?

Expiration
Date
(if known)

Occupancy Guarantee?

May 2015
2007
June 2016
Current

July 2014

TX

Current

August 2013

Henderson, TX

TX

Current

August 2013

Bridgeport, TX

TX

Current

August 2013

CCA

Dallas, TX

TX

Current

August 2013

CCA

Mineral Wells, TX

TX

Current

August 2013

Willacy County State Jail

CCA

Raymondville, TX

TX

Current

August 2013

Cleveland Correctional Center

GEO

Cleveland, TX

TX

Current

January 2014

Lockhart Work Program Facility

GEO

Lockhart, TX

TX

2005

January 2013

Lindsey State Jail

CCA

Jacksboro, TX

TX

Current

August 2013

Billy Moore Correctional Center

MTC

Overton, TX

TX

Current

Bridgeport Correctional Center

MTC

Bridgeport, TX

TX

Current

Diboll Correctional Center

MTC

Diboll, TX

TX

2008

East Texas Treatment Facility

MTC

Henderson, TX

TX

2005

Kyle Correctional Center

MTC

Kyle, TX

TX

Current

Sanders Estes Unit

MTC

Venus, TX

TX

2009

South Texas Intermediate
Sanction Facility

MTC

Houston, TX

TX

Current

West Texas Intermediate
Sanction Facility

MTC

Brownfield, TX

TX

Current

Lawrenceville Correctional Center

GEO

Lawrenceville, VA

VA

Current

Lee Adjustment Center

CCA

Beattyville, KY

VT

Current

Section 6.1 — 90%

Original contract, Article.6.1.c —1495 out of 1500
beds, 95%
June 2013

16

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
In the Public Interest would like to thank Mike Brickner, Jane Carter, Alex Friedmann, Caroline Issacs, Justin Jones,
Kerry Korpi, Bob Libal, and Kymberlie Quong Charles for their thoughtful and thorough comments and edits.
We would also like to thank Open Society Foundations and The Public Welfare Foundation for their generous
support of this report.
Design and layout by Terry Lutz.
Any errors or omissions in this report are the sole responsibility of In the Public Interest.

www.InThePublicInterest.org
1825 K St. NW, Suite 210
Washington, DC 20006
202-739-1160

facebook.com/InThePublicInterest
@PubInterest

PARTNERSHIP
for

Working Families

[ insurgencies ]
The Color of Corporate Corrections, Part II:
Contractual Exemptions and the
Overrepresentation of People of Color in
Private Prisons
CHRISTOPHER PETRELLA1
My previous study2 published in Radical Criminology, (Issue 2,
Fall 2013) demonstrates that people of color3–though historically overrepresented in public prisons relative to their share of
state and national populations–are further overrepresented in
private prisons contracted by departments of correction in Arizona, California, and Texas.
My current research on the relationship between U.S. racial
formation and prison privatization enlarges my previous work
by foregrounding the question of why. That is, why is it that
1

Christopher Petrella is a doctoral candidate in African American Studies at
U.C. Berkeley. His dissertation is entitled “Race, Markets, and the Rise of the
Private Prison State.” Learn more at www.christopherfrancispetrella.net
2

“The Color of Corporate Corrections.” Radical Criminology (2)
http://journal.radicalcriminology.org/index.php/rc/article/view/27
3

Although racial designations are always imprecise, elusive, historically
situated, and subject to revision, I have appropriated U.S. Census Bureau
racial categories for the purposes of this study to preserve nomenclatural, and
therefore statistical, fidelity in cross referencing figures. People of color here
are defined as “Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native
Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and non-white Hispanic or Latino.”

81

82 RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

(ISSN 1929-7904)

people of color are overrepresented in private versus public facilities in select states even in the absence of explicit racially
discriminatory correctional placement or classification policies?
In order to explain why people of color tend to be overrepresented in private relative to public facilities around the country
this study draws on data from nine (9) states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. These states were selected on the basis of their
reliably large sample size. Each of the nine states considered
currently houses at least 3,000 prisoners in private minimum
and/or medium security facilities.4 Additionally, this study controls for differences in facility population profile. Therefore,
only public and private facilities/units with a minimum and/or
medium security designation are included in this comparison.
And finally, as in my previous work, in order to avoid artificially inflating the over-incarceration of people of color in for-profit prisons this examination intentionally excludes figures from
federal detention centers controlled by U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Marshals Service, and
detention facilities managed at the local level. For similar reasons, it strategically excludes data from transfer centers, work
release centers, community corrections facilities, and reception
centers.
Based on an analysis of data obtained from over sixty separate public record requests5 and reports accessible on state department of corrections websites, this study finds that people of
color are overrepresented in private minimum and/or medium
security private facilities relative to their public counterparts in
each of the nine (9) states examined.
This research further posits that the overrepresentation of
people of color in private versus public prisons across the country is primarily attributable to an unlikely source: finely tailored
4

Over thirty states in total contract with private prison companies but many of
these jurisdictions have sample sizes that are statistically insignificant.
Alaska, for instance, houses less than 1,000 prisoners in minimum and/or
medium security private facilities.
5

All public record requests were made between May, 2012 and September,
2013.

PETRELLA: COLOR OF CORPORATE CORRECTIONS, PART II 83

contractual provisions that implicitly exempt private prison
companies from housing certain types of individuals whose
health care and staffing costs disproportionately attenuate profit
margins. Health—and therefore age—tends to serve as a proxy
for race without any explicit reference to it.
These figures suggest that the older the prisoner, the more
likely that prisoner is to be “Non-Hispanic, white.” Correspondingly, the younger the prisoner, the more likely that prisoner is
to be a person of color. Most prisoners over 50 today were convicted and sentenced before the operationalization of the socalled “War on Drugs,” a skein of policies that have disproportionately criminalized communities of color. By implication,
the vast majority of those incarcerated prior to 1980—both in
real numbers and on a percentage basis— was “Non-Hispanic,
white.”6 Contrastingly, black individuals constituted 30 percent
of state prisons admits in 1950, 34 percent in 1960, roughly 40
percent in 1970, and 42 percent by 1980.7
Therefore, age and health serve as dual proxies for race
when explaining the persistent racial disparities in private versus public facilities with similar population profiles.
Elderly and/or geriatric prisoners tend to cost more to incarcerate. A 2012 ACLU report estimates that it costs $34,135 per
year to house a non-geriatric prisoner, but it costs $68,270 per
year to house a prisoner age 50 and older.8
My study firmly suggests that private prison management
companies9 responsible for providing health services exempt
themselves contractually from accepting and housing prisoners
with chronic medical conditions as well as those whose health
care costs will be “above average.” 10 This fact results in a prisoner profile that is far younger and far “darker” in minimum
6

For example, an individual convicted in 1970 as a 20 year-old would be 63
today. Research conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice and the ACLU
both conclude that prisoners over the age of 50 are most likely to be “nonHispanic, white.” https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/125618.pdf
7

Ibid.

8

https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/elderlyprisonreport_20120613_1.pdf

9

Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group, and MTC are the
three largest private prison companies in the United States. Together they
constitute close to 90 percent of the private corrections market share.

84 RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

(ISSN 1929-7904)

and/or medium security private facilities than in select counterpart public facilities. In fact, the states in which the private versus public racial disparities are most pronounced also happen to
be the states in which the private versus public age disparities
are most salient. Please see data on Oklahoma and Texas.
Secondly, on the rare occasion that a state department of
correction retains control of health services while contracting
10

Please consider these examples of contractual exemptions. Note
California: “In the event that the CDCR requests that the contractor
[Corrections Corporation of America] accept offenders with serious or
significant mental health or serious or significant physical problems, included
but not limited to physical disability, CDCR and the contractor shall mutually
agree to an appropriate plan of care and the population and the allocation of
costs associated therewith. If the overall percentage of offenders requiring
Hepatitis C treatment exceeds the overall percentage of offenders requiring
Hepatitis C treatment in the CDCR system, CDCR agrees to pay the treatment
costs for those offenders in excess of the percentage of offenders requiring
Hepatitis C treatment in the CDCR system…The cost of providing on-site
medical, mental health or dental services through facility staff or contracted
services shall be considered normal costs incidental to the operation of the
facility and is included in the CDCR offender per diem rates, except that the
CDCR shall pay for…all expenses in excess of $2,500 annually per inmate
for medically necessary, off site hospital or emergency care…all HIV or
AIDS related inpatient and outpatient medical costs and the costs of providing
AZT or other medications therapeutically indicated and medically necessary
for the treatment of offenders with HIV or AIDS.” Note Oklahoma: “The
contractor [The GEO Group] will be responsible for the treatment of
offenders infected with HIV. This will include, but will not be limited to, all
in-patient and outpatient medical costs excluding the cost of providing
antiviral medications therapeutically indicated for the treatment of HIV. If the
number of the HIV positive offender population being treated increases by 10
offenders then the medication cost allocation shall be subject to negotiation.
The contractor may return any offender diagnosed with AIDS, as defined the
center for disease control to the state. The contractor is responsible for
treatment of Hepatitis C offenders in accordance with the Oklahoma DOC
protocol. If the number of Hepatitis C positive offender population being
treated at any one time is more than two (2) then the DOC will transfer those
additional offenders out of the facility. When an offender reaches end stage
Hepatitis C and can no longer be treated at the contractor’s facility, the DOC
will transfer the offender out of the facility…The contractor may claim
reimbursement from the department for the inpatient hospitalization in a
licensed hospital, for the hospital charges only, not separate physician or other
provider charges, for the amount which exceeds 50,000 per inpatient hospital
discharge for each single hospital stay which originates while the contract for
services is in effect between the contractor and the department.” Note
Mississippi: “MTC [Management and Training Company] will not be

PETRELLA: COLOR OF CORPORATE CORRECTIONS, PART II 85

with a private prison management company 11 elderly populations still remain disproportionately expensive to incarcerate
because those assigned to monitor geriatric and/or chronically
ill prisoners often require special training, benefit from higher
pay grades, and are assigned at lower staff-to-prisoner ratios.
Each of these considerations further erodes profit margins.
In sum, explicit contractual exemptions for health services
and implicit provisions for reducing “high cost” geriatric or infirmed prisoners helps to explain ongoing racial disparities in
private versus public prisons with similar population profiles.
My modest hope is that this study provides an incontrovertible
example of the ways in which seemingly “race neutral” or “colorblind” carceral policies continue to have a differential impact
on communities of color.12
responsible or liable for providing counseling and/or mental health programs.
MTC will not be responsible or liable for providing medical, mental health,
optometry, pharmaceutical, dental, or similar services. MDOC shall provide
security and control of inmates for outpatient needs and /or hospitalization.”
Note Arizona: According to a 2011 report issued by the Arizona Department
of Corrections “Both private and state-run prison units have differences in the
types of inmates that can be housed based on inmate medical, mental health
and dental needs Generally, state-run prisons house a higher percentage of
inmates with higher medical and mental health needs than private prison
units. Private prison units considered to be corridor facilities have access to
off-site healthcare and can house inmates with more severe medical and
mental health needs. Additionally, two private contracts have a $10,000 cap
per inmate on health care services. When the health care cost of a single
inmate exceeds this cap, the inmate is returned to a state-run prison unit and
the state assumes all further medical treatment costs associated with the
inmate. The consolidation of inmates with higher medical and mental health
needs to certain units is cost-efficient overall, but results in a higher per diem
cost for those units and complexes that house these inmates.”
http://www.azcorrections.gov/ARS41_
1609_01_Biennial_Comparison_Report122111_e_v.pdf
11

In Texas, for instance, medical care in private prisons is provided by
Correctional Managed Health Care, a public agency.
12

The overrepresentation of people of color in private prisons indicates they
are disproportionately siphoned away from public prisons—precisely the
types of facilities that provide the greatest access to educational and
rehabilitative programs and services. http://www.urban.org/projects/reentryroundtable/upload/Crayton.pdf. People of color continue to be seen in the
national imagination as sources of profit extraction and not necessarily as
citizens deserving of public services.

86 RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

(ISSN 1929-7904)

DATA:
ARIZONA: PUBLIC MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES OR
UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Douglas-Gila: 359/601
Douglas-Mohave: 663/930
Douglas-Eggers: 127/231
Florence-East: 397/690
Florence-North: 604/1085
Florence-Globe: 164/293
Lewis-Stiner: 786/1176
Lewis-Sunrise: 42/99
Safford-Fort Grant: 331/573
Safford-Graham: 349/536
Safford-Tonto: 194/306
Tucson-Cimarron: 246/371
Tucson-Santa Rita: 503/777
Tucson-Winchester: 501/769
Tucson-Catalina: 144/348
Tucson-Whetstone: 685:1171
Winslow-Coronado: 318/498
Winslow-Kaibab: 614/775
Winslow-Apache: 212/358
Yuma-Cheyenne: 734/1188
Yuma-Cocopah: 570/1047
Yuma-Cibola: 152/308
Yuma-La Paz: 661/864

PETRELLA: COLOR OF CORPORATE CORRECTIONS, PART II 87

ARIZONA: PRIVATE MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES
OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Kingman-Cerbat: 1193/1965
Kingman-Hualapal: 1069/1512
Marana: 309/496

88 RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

(ISSN 1929-7904)

CALIFORNIA: PUBLIC MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES
OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Avenal: 4447/6217
California Men’s Colony: 4719/6240
California Men’s Rehabilitation Center: 3156/4263
Chuckawalla / Ironwood: 6221/7634
Folsom: 5360/6676

*Note: Though the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation has been incredibly uncooperative in releasing
data pertaining to the proportion of prisoners age 50 and older
in minimum/medium-security public and private facilities,
readers should note that the publicly-operated California Health
Care facility in Stockton, CA is the only facility officially
charged with the task of “housing for patients who require acute
and long-term care for medical or psychiatric needs.” It is
therefore reasonable to hypothesize that this particular publiclyoperated facility would contain the highest proportion of
prisoners age 50 and older among California’s more than 30
state-operated prisons.

PETRELLA: COLOR OF CORPORATE CORRECTIONS, PART II 89

http://cdcrtoday.blogspot.com/2013/06/cdcr-dedicates-newcalifornia- health.html

CALIFORNIA: PRIVATE (OUTSOURCED) MINIMUM/MEDIUM
SECURITY FACILITIES OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL
POPULATION)
La Palma (in Arizona): 2454/2949
North Fork (in Oklahoma): 1774/2003
Red Rock (in Arizona): 1382/1504
Tallahatchie (in Mississippi): 2410/2603

COLORADO: PUBLIC MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES
OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Arkansas Valley: 575/1008
Buena Vista: 546/926
Fremont: 798/1662

90 RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

(ISSN 1929-7904)

COLORADO: PRIVATE MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES
OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Bent: 764/1317
Crowley: 938/1590
Kit Carson: 456/800

PETRELLA: COLOR OF CORPORATE CORRECTIONS, PART II 91

GEORGIA: PUBLIC MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES OR
UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Autry: 1155/1644
Calhoun: 1169/1635
Central: 614/1099
Dodge: 796/1198
Dooly: 1093/1652
Johnson State: 855/1544
Lee State: 523/725
Long: 100/224
Montgomery: 236/374

92 RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

(ISSN 1929-7904)

GEORGIA: PRIVATE MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES
OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Coffee: 1811/2540
Jenkins: 665/1107
Riverbend: 1012/1459
Wheeler: 1817/2640

PETRELLA: COLOR OF CORPORATE CORRECTIONS, PART II 93

MISSISSIPPI: PUBLIC MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES
OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)*
CMCF: 1451/2188

MISSISSIPPI: PRIVATE MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES (PEOPLE
OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)*
as Composite Totals: 3256/4314

*Note: Though the Mississippi Department of Corrections has
not been able to provide me with data pertaining to the
proportion of prisoners age 50 and older in minimum/mediumsecurity public and private facilities, readers should note that
the publicly-operated Mississippi State Penitentiary in
Parchman, MS is the only facility responsible for
“maintain[ing] two special units for its elderly prisoners.”—
http://www.mdoc.state.ms.us

94 RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

(ISSN 1929-7904)

OHIO: PUBLIC MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES OR
UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Allen Oakwood: 659/1590
Marion: 1343/2617
Dayton: 315/882
Chillicothe: 1038/2747
London: 1119/2263
Belmont: 1220/2762
Noble: 1034/2495
Southeastern: 853/2055
Pickaway: 919/2165

PETRELLA: COLOR OF CORPORATE CORRECTIONS, PART II 95

OHIO: PRIVATE MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES OR
UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Lake Erie: 898/1542
North Central Complex: 1113/2708

OKLAHOMA: PUBLIC MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES
OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Dick Conner: 608/1202
James Crabtree: 387/992
Joseph Harp: 555/1396
Mack Alford: 349/793
OK State Reformatory: 483/1067

96 RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

(ISSN 1929-7904)

OKLAHOMA: PRIVATE MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES
OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Davis: 989/1682
Lawton: 1423/2529

PETRELLA: COLOR OF CORPORATE CORRECTIONS, PART II 97

TENNESSEE: PUBLIC MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES
OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
CBCX: 315/604
NWCX: 1315/2404

TENNESSEE: PRIVATE MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES
OR UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Hardeman: 1265/1998
South Central: 765: 1669
Whiteville: 974/1528

98 RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

(ISSN 1929-7904)

* Note: Though the Tennessee Department of Correction has
stated it “does not have the resources to perform individual
requests to disaggregate data [pertaining to the proportion of
prisoners age 50 and older in minimum/medium-security public
and private facilities],” readers should note that the publiclyoperated Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville,
TN is the only facility responsible for providing “acute and
convalescent health care” to Tennessee prisoners. It is therefore
reasonable to hypothesize that this particular publicly-operated
facility would contain the largest proportion of prisoners age 50
and older among all of Tennessee’s prisons.
—http://www.tn.gov/correction/institutions/dsnf.html

TEXAS: PUBLIC MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES OR
UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Byrd: 723/1088
Goree: 483/975
Huntsville: 874/1520
Jester III: 629/1083
Luther: 795/1261
Pack: 763/1429
Powledge: 504/1105
Terrell: 940/1539
Vance: 192/295

PETRELLA: COLOR OF CORPORATE CORRECTIONS, PART II 99

TEXAS: PRIVATE MINIMUM/MEDIUM SECURITY FACILITIES OR
UNITS (PEOPLE OF COLOR / TOTAL POPULATION)
Billy Moore: 344/499
Bridgeport: 360/520
Cleveland: 361/519
Diboll: 354/517
Estes: 722/1039

100 RADICAL CRIMINOLOGY

(ISSN 1929-7904)

▫ ◊ ▫▫ ◊ ▫▫ ◊ ▫

‘Fibonacci sequence, the Golden
Mean’, photo by Fady Habib
(flickr, CC-BY-2.0)

2/1/2015

When It Comes to Immigration, Privatization Can Kill - NYTimes.com

Reprints
This  copy  is  for  your  personal,  noncommercial  use  only.  You  can  order  presentation-­ready  copies  for  distribution
to  your  colleagues,  clients  or  customers  here  or  use  the  "Reprints"  tool  that  appears  next  to  any  article.  Visit
www.nytreprints.com  for  samples  and  additional  information.  Order  a  reprint  of  this  article  now.

April  1,  2012

Can  Privatization  Kill?
By  THOMAS  GAMMELTOFT-­HANSEN

ON  Oct.  12,  2010,  Jimmy  Mubenga  was  deported  from  Britain.  The  46-­year-­old  Angolan  had
come  to  the  country  as  a  refugee  16  years  earlier.  But  after  his  involvement  in  a  pub  brawl  and  a
subsequent  criminal  conviction,  the  government  ordered  his  deportation.  Three  private
security  guards  escorted  him  through  Heathrow  Airport  and  onto  British  Airways  Flight  77  to
Luanda,  Angola.  The  exact  details  of  what  followed  are  still  unclear  and  currently  subject  to
criminal  investigation.
Several  passengers  onboard  the  plane  reported  that  Mr.  Mubenga  repeatedly  complained  that
he  could  not  breathe  and  that  he  was  being  held  down  with  his  head  between  his  knees  by
security  guards.  As  the  airplane  taxied  to  the  runway  in  London,  Mr.  Mubenga  lost
consciousness  and  later  died.
Immigration  control  has  traditionally  been  viewed  as  an  inalienable  sovereign  function  of  the
state.  But  today  migration  management  has  increasingly  been  taken  over  by  private
contractors.  Proponents  of  privatization  have  been  keen  to  argue  that  the  use  of  contractors
does  not  mean  that  governments  lose  control.  Yet,  privatization  introduces  a  corporate  veil  that
blurs  both  public  oversight  and  legal  accountability.
Despite  efforts  to  introduce  outside  supervisors,  performance  reports  and  other  monitoring
mechanisms,  the  private  nature  of  these  companies  breaks  the  ordinary  administrative  chain  of
command,  placing  both  governments  and  the  public  at  a  disadvantage  in  terms  of  ensuring
transparency.

Private  companies  seldom  have  an  interest  in  securing  public  oversight,  as  any  criticism  may
entail  negative  economic  consequences.  Australasian  Correctional  Management,  which  ran
detention  centers  in  Australia  from  1998  to  2004,  was  known  to  require  medical  staff  members
or  teachers  entering  its  facilities  to  sign  confidentiality  agreements  preventing  them  from
MORE  IN  OPIN
disclosing  any  information  regarding  detainees  or  the  administration  of  the  centers.  Being
foreigners,  migrants  and  refugees  have  always  had  a  hard  time  gaining  access  to  outside Political  C
complaint  mechanisms  and  advocacy  institutions.  As  an  employee  in  charge  of  reviewingSurprisin
State  Rep
disciplinary  cases  at  a  Corrections  Corporation  of  America  facility  in  Houston  once  told  a
Read  More  »

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/opinion/when-it-comes-to-immigration-privatization-can-kill.html?_r=0&pagewanted=print

1/3

2/1/2015

When It Comes to Immigration, Privatization Can Kill - NYTimes.com

reporter  from  this  paper,  “I’m  the  Supreme  Court.”
The  corporate  veil  also  distorts  lines  of  legal  responsibility.  Human  rights  law  is  largely
designed  on  the  presumption  that  it  is  states  and  not  private  companies  that  exercise  sovereign
powers  like  detention  or  border  control.  Legally  holding  governments  accountable  for  human
rights  violations  by  contractors  requires  an  additional  step  showing  that  it  is  the  state  and  not
just  the  corporation  or  individual  employee  that  is  responsible  for  the  misconduct.
Mr.  Mubenga’s  case  is  not  unique.  Numerous  reports  have  been  filed  about  misconduct,
violence  and  abuse  perpetrated  by  contractors  carrying  out  migration  functions.  The  three
security  guards  responsible  for  deporting  Mr.  Mubenga  worked  for  the  Anglo-­Danish  security
company  G4S.  Before  Mr.  Mubenga’s  death,  G4S  held  the  exclusive  contract  with  the  U.K.
Border  Agency  to  provide  escorts  for  immigration  detainees  deported  from  the  country.  The
firm  subsequently  lost  this  contract,  but  this  didn’t  end  its  involvement  in  managing  migration.
As  the  world’s  largest  security  company  with  more  than  650,000  employees,  G4S  is  involved  in
a  plethora  of  migration  functions  all  over  the  world,  from  operating  immigration  detention
centers  in  Britain  to  carrying  out  passenger  screening  at  airports  in  Europe,  Canada  and  the
Middle  East.  In  America,  G4S  operates  a  fleet  of  custom-­built  fortified  buses  that  serve  as
deportation  transports  for  illegal  migrants  caught  along  the  United  States-­Mexico  border.  Just
last  month,  the  U.K.  Border  Agency  signed  a  new  contract  with  G4S  worth  up  to  $337  million  to
house  asylum  seekers.
G4S’s  success  in  this  market  shows  that  deportation,  detention  and  border  control  have  become
big  business.  Boeing’s  current  contract  to  set  up  and  operate  a  high-­tech  border  surveillance
system  along  the  United  States-­Mexico  border  is  worth  $1.3  billion  and  involves  nearly  100
subcontractors.  The  Florida-­based  Geo  Group  —  one  of  G4S’s  main  competitors  —  manages
7,000  detention  beds  in  the  United  States  and,  until  recently,  at  the  Guantánamo  Bay  detention
center,  where  migrants  intercepted  in  the  Caribbean  are  transferred.  N.G.O.s  and  international
organizations  profit,  too.  In  2010,  the  International  Organization  for  Migration  was  paid  $265
million  to  assist  governments  in  returning  migrants  to  their  home  countries,  among  other
activities.
The  migration  control  industry  covers  not  only  detention  and  deportations  but  also  border
control.  Many  airlines  today  employ  former  immigration  officers  or  themselves  contract
security  companies  to  perform  the  document,  forgery  and  profiling  checks  required  by
destination  states.  In  Israel,  the  West  Bank  checkpoints  are  gradually  being  transferred  to
private  security  companies.
Placing  responsibility  at  lower  levels  may  serve  to  insulate  governments  from  lawsuits.  In  the
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/opinion/when-it-comes-to-immigration-privatization-can-kill.html?_r=0&pagewanted=print

2/3

2/1/2015

When It Comes to Immigration, Privatization Can Kill - NYTimes.com

Mubenga  case,  the  three  private  security  guards  involved  in  the  deportation  were  initially
arrested.  Following  accusations  from  G4S  employees  that  senior  management  had  repeatedly
ignored  internal  warnings  about  poor  training  and  unsafe  restraint  techniques,  charges  against
the  company  are  now  being  considered.  Yet  none  of  these  lawsuits  are  likely  to  address  whether
the  U.K.  Border  Agency  should  face  criminal  liability  for  Mr.  Mubenga’s  death  because  of  its
decision  to  outsource  deportations  in  the  first  place.
Even  if  governments  want  to  re-­establish  state  control  over  migration,  it  isn’t  so  easy.  Political
promises  to  renationalize  immigration  detention  centers  in  Britain  have  so  far  remained
unfulfilled  despite  repeated  reports  of  abuse  and  mistreatment.  And  privatization,  once
pursued,  is  difficult  to  reverse.
The  United  States  discovered  this  when,  in  the  aftermath  of  9/11,  it  was  faced  with  the
challenge  of  hiring  45,000  employees  for  the  newly  established  Transportation  Security
Administration  to  recoup  sovereign  control  over  previously  private  airport  security.  And  private
contractors  work  to  shape  policy  as  well.  When  Arizona’s  notorious  SB  1070  immigration  bill
was  passed,  30  out  of  36  co-­sponsors  had  received  donations  from  private  prison  companies  or
their  lobbyists.
Today,  government  outsourcing  has  given  rise  to  an  industry  that  encompasses  nearly  every
aspect  of  migration  management  in  countries  across  the  globe.  This  shift  comes  at  a  price:  It
eliminates  government  accountability  and  runs  roughshod  over  the  rights  of  those  subjected  to
private  corporations’  control.  And  unless  governments  reassert  control  over  what  used  to  be  a
core  sovereign  function  of  the  state,  many  more  Jimmy  Mubengas  are  likely  to  die.
Thomas  Gammeltoft-­Hansen  is  a  senior  researcher  at  the  Danish  Institute  for  International  Studies
and  a  co-­editor  of  the  forthcoming  book  “The  Migration  Industry.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/opinion/when-it-comes-to-immigration-privatization-can-kill.html?_r=0&pagewanted=print

3/3