The U.S. Justice Department’s plan to end its use of private prison operators could deliver a financial hit to those companies’ bottom lines, as shown by a precipitous drop in their stock prices yesterday, reports Law.com. The end won’t come without a fight, groups that have long opposed private prisons said. Marc Schindler of the Justice Policy Institute, which published a 2011 report on private prisons, “Gaming the System,” said, “There’s no question, when this amount of money is at stake, that they’ll fight this. They have highly paid lobbyists and will probably try to draw [the end] out longer as they look for other ways to increase their revenue.”
The two largest private prison firms, Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, combined, reported nearly $3 billion in revenue in 2010. “Private prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own bureau facilities,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said yesterday. DOJ contracts with three companies—Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group Inc. and Management and Training Corporation—to run 14 facilities for 22,600 federal prisoners as of last December. Issa Arnita of Management and Training Corporation called the Justice Department’s plan “an imprudent decision” that “will come with a very heavy cost to taxpayers.” He noted the cost of housing a low-level offender in a federal prison is $80.20 per day and $63.35 per day in a contract prison.