A research group charges that private prison operators often have “lockup quotas” and “low-crime taxes” built into the language of their contracts, reports the Tulsa World. A group called In the Public Interest says that many contracts for private prison operators feature language guaranteeing 80 percent to 100 percent prison occupancy and forcing taxpayers to pay penalties for empty beds.
These practices result in taxpayers essentially paying more money to house inmates even when crime decreases, becoming a de facto low-crime tax, a report by the organization says. Lockup quotas in private prison contracts range between 80 and 100 percent. Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Virginia have the highest occupancy guarantee requirements, with quotas requiring between 95 and 100 percent occupancy. Former Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones said, “What corrections should not be is a turnkey for-profit machine, and that’s exactly that we’ve turned them into when we guarantee occupancy, with no requirement to produce results.”