The U.S. is supporting a $3 billion private prison industry, says NPR in the second in a series. In Texas, there are more for-profit prisons than any other state. because of a growing inmate shortage, some private jails cannot fill empty cells, leaving some towns wishing they’d never gotten in the prison business.
The west Texas farming town of Littlefield borrowed $10 million and built the Bill Clayton Detention Center in a cotton field in 2000. For eight years, the prison was a good employer. Then the for-profit operator, GEO Group, left. One hundred prison jobs disappeared. The facility has been empty ever since. Still, Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private prison operator, says the demand for its facilities remains strong, particularly for federal immigration detainees.