There is an enormous difficulty in outsourcing prisons. Prisons have traditionally been state funded operations. A prison is a testament to society’s failure to grow law-abiding citizens. It is a blemish that we wear as a badge without pride and a hope that there will be correction of antisocial ways. Of course, as in any enterprise there will be “seconds” or those elements that must be isolated from society because of their destructive effect on society. When we abandon our ownership of society’s failures we abandon our duty to rehabilitate.
However, because of society’s inability to tax effectively many things have vanished into the haze of history. Among them are the socializing effects of class size, art, shop, and after school programs. Well, we can’t blame criminality on yearly budget cuts. Criminals have been around for long time and sometimes it’s hard to tell who the criminal is. Sometimes the criminal is the state. Regardless of who the malefactor is, it is the states responsibility to manage the prisons.
When management of a prison outsourced, a new profit-making industry is born and revenue streams have to be cultivated, maintained, and grown. Even if social programs to reduce criminality succeed, a profit-making business, new revenue streams must be created.
It appears that some lobbyists have identified one subgroup as a target: illegal immigrants. This isn’t a steady stream, conditions change and farmers need their lettuce picked and another revenue stream will need to be identified. But once a business has enough money to employ lobbyists and influence legislation I wouldn’t be surprised that more people were incarcerated despite the downward trend in crime. Carlos
Over the past four years roughly a million immigrants have been incarcerated in dangerous detention facilities in our taxpayer-financed private prison system. Children were abused, women were raped, and men died from lack of basic medical attention.
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), based in Nashville, Tennessee, and the GEO Group, a global corporation based in Boca Raton, Florida, the nation’s two largest companies that design, build, finance and operate prisons, are principal moving forces in the behind-the-scenes organization of the current wave of anti-immigrant legislative efforts which, if successful, would dramatically increase the number of immigrant prisoners in over twenty states.
A little over a year after its October 2003 success in securing the contract to run GITMO (the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp) in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, GEO hired the services of lobbyists who had recently held influential positions with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Prisons, Office of the Attorney General, and then Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell to lobby their former employers and Congress. Through 2005 and leading up to the largest immigration raid in U.S. history in December 2006, GEO and CCA spent a combined total of over $6 million on these lobbying efforts.
On May 1, 2006, while GEO and CCA were lobbying the federal government for more business, millions of people marched in favor of immigrant rights in 102 cities across the country. The marchers, despite their historic numbers, turned out to be an insufficient barrier to the government’s support of GEO’s and CCA’s business plans. This single change in enforcement of existing law created a potential of over ten million new felons, thereby multiplying the lucrative incarceration market for the private prison industry many times over, and sending a shock wave through immigrant-related communities across the country. The December 2006 raid, in which over a thousand men and women employed at Swift meat-packing plants in several states were detained, marked a change in the federal government’s enforcement of the 1995 immigration law. For the first time, many of those picked up were charged with crimes that carry long prison sentences.
At the time of the Swift raid, USA Today quoted the Reverend Clarence Sandoval of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Logan, Utah, as saying, “They are taking mothers and fathers and we’re really concerned about the children. I’m getting calls from mothers saying they don’t know where their husband was taken.”
Soon after the Bush Administration implemented this change in law enforcement affecting immigrants, Wall Street advisors publicly recommended buying stock in private prison companies like CCA and GEO. At the time, Vice President Dick Cheney was heavily invested in Vanguard, one of a handful of major shareholders in GEO.
The lobbying paid off for both companies in huge revenue increases from government contracts to incarcerate immigrants. From 2005 through 2009, for every dollar spent on lobbying the federal government, GEO received a $662 return in taxpayer-funded contracts, for a total of $996.7 million. CCA received a $34 return in taxpayerfunded contracts for every dollar spent on lobbying the federal government, for a total of $330.4 million. In addition, both companies increased revenues over the same period from detention facility contracts with a number of states.
In 2007 the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) conducted 30,407 immigration raids in workplaces, neighborhoods, and public gathering sites such as bus stops and commuter train platforms. The number of raids conducted that year was double the 2006 total. The number of immigrants placed behind bars, for what amounts to the crime of having been born in the wrong place, increased from 256,842 in 2006 to 311,169 in 2007.