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Monday, October 24, 2016

By The Numbers: The U.S.’s Growing For-Profit Detention Industry

by Suevon Lee, ProPublica.

The growth of the private detention industry has long been a subject of scrutiny. A recent eight-part series in the New Orleans Times-Picayune chronicled how more than half of Louisiana’s 40,000 inmates are housed in prisons run by sheriffs or private companies as part of a broader financial incentive scheme. The detention business goes beyond just criminal prisoners.

As a Huffington Post investigation pointed out last month, nearly half of all immigrant detainees are now held in privately run detention facilities. Just this week, the New York Times delved into lax oversight at industrial-sized but privately run halfway houses in New Jersey.

We’ve taken a look at some of the numbers associated with the billion-dollar and wide-ranging for-profit detention industry — and the two companies that dominate the market:

General Statistics:

1.6 million: Total number of state and federal prisoners in the United States as of December 2010, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics

128,195: Number of state and federal prisoners housed in private facilities as of December 2010

37: percent by which number of prisoners in private facilities increased between 2002 and 2009

217,690: Total federal inmate population as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Prisons

27,970: Number of federal inmates in privately managed facilities within the Bureau of Prisons

33,330: Estimated size of detained immigrant population as of 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security


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  • William Deutschlander

    What the Republican governors and legislators are doing with the prison system is akin to what the Bush Admin. did with Haliburton and Blackwater in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are issuing non-competitive contracts to provide poorer services, at advancing costs to the taxpayer. In return they get tainted money for re-election purposes!

    • patpa

      The real problem is that when inmates are not pleased with anything about their status, they complain to ther lawyers. How do lawyers make a living? By taking cases and pursuing them. So, that is what they do. We need laws to restrict legal actions against governments who are inclined to respond favorably to inmate complaints about their unhappy situation, when those cmplaints are submitted by attorneys.

      • EdC

        I’m sorry the situation of the Papers please law in Arizona is perfect cause against your prepostion. The law was implanted to raise hell with immigrants that were exploited,by their status and any other way they could be exploited, then they got smart and now the exploiters want them shipped out and new naive illegals shipped in. However they have to stay in a presion in the interium. Brewer has gotten a lot of money from the private prision that charge the federal government, not the state, with no oversite.

  • perplejado

    Today’s New York Times has an excellent op-ed piece by Paul Krugman that is very much to the point on this issue. The idea that this is free market enterprise is a joke, since prison systems are built with government contract on hand, and then all that is needed in a legislature to pass mandatory detention laws and pressure on judges to lock poeple up. Al least GM has to convince me to buy a car, all CCA has to do is sprinkler money on the state legislatures and wait for the contracts to grow. Competition, humbug, this is one of the biggest propaganda coups of the last 20 years, maybe someday we’ll wake up and realize what’s happening, I hope its not in CCA facility.

  • howa4x

    We spend more on prisoners than we do on college students. How do we expect to compete in the future with this imbalance? Students can’t pay their college loans and we fork over 50k/yr per prisoner. This is another Republican law and order idea, that is going to bankrupt us. This lock em up mantra has allowed the republicans to scare the crap out of the middle class and get elected. Remember Willie Horton? We already had one case where a judge was getting kickbacks from a private prison company to give longer sentences, and since corruption is common place we will see more of this.
    90% are in there on drug realted cases so dosen’t anyone think its time to make most drugs legal, tax them and take it away as a criminal issue and make it a public health one based on treatment.

    If we really want to stop drug abuse we need to recapitalize urban areas and provide an economic future for these youthful offenders. We need to sentence a youth to finish high school and not to a prosion term

    • oldtack

      What I would like to see – and I do not know how to get it – is information on the “crimes” all of these “felons” committed. In my perspective Prisons should be for those that have committed heinous crimes. In my community I see those rightly tried and convicted of murder, rape, pedophilia , armed robbery and such which is good. Then I see those going to prison for petty crimes – crimes such as illegal possession, theft and so on and their sentences are far more harsh than the “crime” merits. Is this just to fill and thereby justify all of these contract Prisons? Smells fishy to me.

      • EdC

        Yes but Illegal position only applied to the not so wealthy. i.e. George “W” Bush

  • So “crime doesn’t pay” huh? Sound like some people are getting rich from it!!

    • CAThinker

      Yeah – like war… Next up is education if republicans get their way…

  • delfields

    This article simply illustrates on aspect of and the extent of the pervasive corruption that abounds in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Is this what America’s founders had in mind?

    • DurdyDawg

      No, this is what the idiots in politics have in mind. Too many times I’ve heard that the true culprit was Dubya, then I hear a resounding, “Dubya is in the past, this is the now”.. Guess their forgetting the past much farther.

  • rooby9

    Prisons are the new ‘plantations’ – many industries now depend on a large prison population to do their work. It appears we are not outsourcing all our labor to 3rd world countries. Our prison system serves in that same capacity here. So there are great incentives to keep the crime rate high, to keep drugs illegal, to exploit immigration concerns…

  • jarheadgene

    This absolutely positively, will not lend itself to corruption. I have a bridge in brooklyn…anybody want to buy it?

  • with the American system is it a conflict of intrest for a group of judges to own a facility that they sentence people to. look to polk couty florida.