Critics: Private Prison Firms Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies


The Justice Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, contends that political strategies of private prison firms in the U.S. have helped promote ineffective incarceration policies. The inmate population of private facilities has increased 353 percent in 15 years, compared with a nearly 50 percent growth in prison population overall. The institute says that last year, Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, the two largest private prison companies, had combined revenues of $2.9 billion.

A new report from the institute asserts that a “triangle of influence” built on campaign contributions, lobbying, and relationships with current and former elected and appointed officials has given private prison companies access to local, state, and federal policymakers as well as “back-channel influence to pass legislation that puts more people behind bars, adds to private prison populations, and generates tremendous profits at U.S. taxpayers' expense.” The institute seeks more research to evaluate the cost and recidivism reduction campaigns of the private prison industry and a “ clearer dialogue surrounding the difficulties of comparative research between private and public facilities.”

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