As justice systems across the U.S. cope with strained budgets, private companies have stepped in to offer a wide range of services once provided by authorities. A new study asks whether the “monopoly power” of these firms is exploiting the people they’re meant to serve.
The state’s health care contractor, Corizon Health, has fallen well short of the contract’s requirements for staffing key mental health positions at several mostly rural facilities , according to documents obtained by The Kansas City Star.
Georgia pays two private prison companies almost $140 million a year to house 15 percent of its inmate population–double what the state spent on private prisons 12 years ago, according to the audit, which also predicted a rise of more than 1,200 inmates in the next half-decade.
The number of people housed in private prisons increased five times faster than the total prison population between 2000 and 2016, and detainees in private immigration facilities increased by 442 percent in same period, says the Sentencing Project, predicting that as overall prison populations decline, corrections companies will “seek profit in other areas of criminal justice services and immigration detention.”
Beyond the ideological debates about prison privatization, privately run corrections facilities are likely to continue to be used by cash-strapped governments. In a new book, Lauren-Brooke Eisen of New York University says it’s time to explore how the private corrections industry can become a partner in reducing recidivism.
In 2013, the two dominant American private prison firms, Corecivic and the Geo Group, restructured as so-called “real estate investment trusts,” known as REITs. Under the GOP tax bill, taxes paid on REITs investments by individuals will be cut 25 percent.
An Oregon State University professor says his comparative study of prison demographics also supports critics who claim private prisons “skim the best inmates with the lowest needs in their attempt to minimize costs.” The study found that inmates in for-profit institutions serve disproportionately shorter sentences than those incarcerated in state and federal prisons.
The population incarcerated in for-profit prisons increased 45 percent from 2000 to 2015, according to a new data analysis by The Sentencing Project. Private prisons held about 8 percent of the total U.S. prison population in 2015.
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.