Prison companies expect a wave of new business as the economic downturn makes it difficult for federal and state government officials to build and operate their own facilities, says the Wall Street Journal. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons and several states have sent thousands of inmates in recent months to prisons and detention centers run by Corrections Corp. of America, Geo Group Inc. and other private operators, as a crackdown on illegal immigration, a lengthening of mandatory sentences, and other factors have overcrowded many facilities.
Experts expect inmate populations in 10 states to increase by 25 percent or more between 2006 and 2011, says the Pew Charitable Trusts. Corrections Corp., the largest U.S. private-prison operator, with 64 facilities, has built two prisons this year and expanded nine facilities, and it plans to finish two more in 2009. The Nashville, Tenn., company put 1,680 new prison beds into service in its third quarter, helping boost net income 14 percent to $37.9 million. California has shipped more than 5,100 inmates to private prisons run by Corrections Corp. in Arizona, Mississippi, and other states since late 2006. Geo Group, of Boca Raton, Fl., the second-largest prison company, has built or expanded eight facilities this year in Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, and other states, and it plans seven more expansions or new prisons by 2010.