President Trump has authorized the use of private contractors “to construct, operate, or control facilities” in what is expected to be a substantial ramp-up of the massive detention system that thrived under the Obama administration. With the number of immigrant detainees already at historic levels, critics warn that rapidly expanding prisons will only exacerbate squalid living conditions and substandard medical care.
Industry analysts expect the President-elect to reverse the Obama administration’s order phasing out Justice Department contracts with private prison firms. One financial-services company calls private prisons “a compelling investment opportunity.”
Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, Tennessee’s largest prison, was told to stop accepting new inmates after the state found a litany of “serious issues” with its leadership, staffing, solitary confinement, and excessive force. A former military officer who worked there said, “I felt like I was in more danger when I was in the prison.”
Private immigration facilities likely would expand under a Trump proposal for mandatory minimum terms for people re-entering the U.S. illegally. One private company’s stock showed the highest gain on the New York Stock Exchange the day after Trump won.
Stock prices for the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America have surged since Trump’s election. Months after the federal government announced it was ending its use of private prisons, the president-elect’s law-and-order promises have given a new sheen to the financial viability of for-profit incarceration.
Analysts predict Trump will reverse Justice Department decision to phase out private prison contracts and will need more private facilities to handle the impact of his immigration policies. That would be a boon for the Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group.
Private prison firm, once known as Corrections Corporation of America, becoming more of a real estate management firm than a corrections services company. Its stock price fell after U.S. Justice Department said it would phase out private prison contracts.
The Corrections Corporation of America’s contract to run the nation’s largest family detention center is lengthened for five years despite increasing criticism of private prisons. The Justice Department’s decision to phase them out doesn’t apply to Department of Homeland Security, which also is reviewing the issue.
Several House Republicans write the Justice Department on the industry’s behalf protesting move to end their contracts. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and others contend the move would “undermine the effectiveness of … rehabilitation programs.”