President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to deport millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally and his selection of tough-on-crime Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general could mean big money for the private prison industry, the Associated Press reports. The stock market seems to agree. A day after the election, CoreCivic Co., formerly Corrections Corporation of America, saw the biggest percentage gain on the New York Stock Exchange, with shares climbing 43 percent. Geo Group, another private prison company, saw its shares jump 21 percent. The federal prison population had been trending down for nearly a decade when the Obama administration announced in August that it would phase out its use of some private facilities.
The policy change did not cover private prisons used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Trump said during his campaign that the nation’s prison system was a mess and voiced support for private prisons. “I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better,” Trump told MSNBC in March. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds up to 34,000 immigrants awaiting deportation. Forty-six of the 180 facilities in which ICE holds immigrants are privately run, with about 73 percent of detainees held in the private facilities. “Trump was saying during his 100-day plan that mandatory minimums for people re-entering the country would be set at two years — that’s going to require a longer-term need for beds,” said Michael Kodesch of the financial services firm Canaccord Genuity Inc. Immigration detention centers are particularly profitable for private prison companies because they command a higher rate for each inmate bed, he said.