Incarceration for Profit

Congratulations to Florida for resisting the lure of privatizing its prisons yesterday.

Today, the Florida Senate averted disaster by voting down a proposal to create the largest private prison system in America. The plan would have turned over nearly 30 Florida correctional facilities to private, for-profit companies, which have would run the prisons under contract with the state. […]

The defeat of the privatization bill is a victory for Florida. As Julie Ebenstein, Policy & Advocacy Counsel at the ACLU of Florida, explained shortly after the bill’s defeat: “Florida’s prison system needs reform, but private prisons aren’t reform – they deform the process by linking corporate profit to incarceration. The bottom line is that private prisons make money by keeping people in prison when we should be looking for ways to keep them out in the first place.”

The privatization of prisons is one of the more perverse developments to our criminal justice system in recent years. It makes no long term logical fiscal sense to taxpayers and it’s a disaster in terms of public policy, as it actually creates a fiscal incentive to private companies to lobby for more people to be locked up.

This disturbing article by Chris Kirkham makes it clear: Private Prison Corporation Offers Cash In Exchange For State Prisons

As state governments wrestle with massive budget shortfalls, a Wall Street giant is offering a solution: cash in exchange for state property. Prisons, to be exact.

Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest operator of for-profit prisons, has sent letters recently to 48 states offering to buy up their prisons as a remedy for “challenging corrections budgets.” In exchange, the company is asking for a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least 90 percent full, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Huffington Post.

Did you catch that part? “a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least 90 percent full

Now if that isn’t a perverse incentive. The state actually entering into an agreement that guarantees a certain prison population. And if prison population falls? Why, I guess they’ll just have to convict more people, sentence them for more years, or pass more criminal laws.

This puts the private prison industry and the states into a joint interest in maintaining prison populations. And that means certain things must be avoided, as Corrections Corporation has made clear…

“The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws,” the company’s most recent annual filing noted. “For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”

Drug legalization is bad for the business of incarceration.

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39 Responses to Incarceration for Profit

  1. Peter says:

    yes pete i noticed that sentence in the article too. the 90% guarantee is also a sign of cca’s feArs about drug and immigration reform and is an attempt to hedge their investments.

  2. ezrydn says:

    Isn’t it odd they get upset about blood diamonds and consider Jail-for-Profit ok?

  3. Cold Blooded says:

    I actually need to read more about the private prison controversy; I don’t know too much about it.

    • Dave says:

      Go to U Tube and pull up Big $ putting people in prison, that will get you started in understanding the corruption of corporations lobbying the legislature with billions, their aim is to keep people in prison to make money from the state and federal taxpayers and in turn use the prisoners as slaves, cutting costs everywhere they can including denying necessary medical interventions, not even allowing someone to have an aspirin or multiple vitamin, everything they can do to save money and increase profits.

  4. kant says:

    If you read the actual letter it gets even better.

    On Jan. 1, 2012, we assumed ownership and management
    responsibility in a transition described by all parties as seamless. This transfer culminated a process
    that, according to state officials, generated more than $72.7 million in proceeds for Ohio taxpayers,
    about $50 million of which was allocated for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and

    So ohio saved a bunch of money!….which went right back to us.

    here’s another interesting bit

    We’re also pleased that over 93% of the facility’s staff were retained by CCA and will
    continue working at the facility.

    So they take over the prison then fire 7% of the staff.

    One last interesting bit. The other requirements of the contract is that the facility must be already built and/or populated; and a minimum of 1000 beds.

    Which means if they earn $30k per person per year then they stand to make $27 million (assuming the minimum 90% occupancy) per year.

    Of course this is the minimum possible. In reality a prison this small is probably a high security prison (meaning more money per prisoner) or the prison will be bigger.

  5. thelbert huffman says:

    this is for certain denizens of milton, fla. where, as a boy, i learned yankees were not welcome: i saw a show two or theree nights ago on the old jim crow system in the south. of course the leftist stance of pbs required the film makers to portray the leasing of prisoners to private enterprise as akin to slavery. us steel corp. the biggest corporation at the time, was using prison labor in its coal mines in alabama. and they tried to make it sound like it was wrong. damn, i hate obamavision. these liberals act like it’s un-amurican to work a man to death for the crime of vagrancy. and the lefty scum bags of a century ago managed to end the practice when a white hobo from wisconsin or some other yankee hell-hole tried the lazy act and was beat to death with 150 lashes or so. then rich white patriots had to go to jail for the trumped up crime of “peonage”. as if the strong didn’t have a god given right to exploit the labor of the weak. just a negro attempt to make the kkk and southern democrats look bad. and now these commies want enshrine the socialized prison system in perpetuity, with no chance for the job creators to make a buck and feed their hungry chillins. i like the way fullerton,ca handles their vagrant problems. beat ’em to death, that’ll teach ’em.

    • Peter says:

      “socialized prisons”
      great term im surprised the right havent adopted it yet

    • Dave says:

      buddy, you really have a demented mind, hopefully you will never be innocently incarcerated or face a life sentence or be put to death for something you didn’t do, but your comments are clearly uneducated and back woods, I’m surprised you even know how to type let alone use a computer.

  6. claygooding says:

    The American poor have become chattel to the corporations as the industrialized prisons require inmates to work in sweat shops for pennies an hour in order to exist in the economics system of the prison,,you don’t work,you don’t get no visitors or commissary.

  7. Duncan20903 says:


    Ummm, or they could just pay the fee for 90% occupancy. There’s no need for a body to occupy the space.

    Are there actually any States whose prisons aren’t significantly in excess of 100% capacity, with most being closer to 200%?

  8. Servetus says:

    Privatizing prisons empowers the Corrections Corporation of America to use the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision to funnel huge amounts of anonymous corporate cash into PACs to produce front organizations that lobby for strict and persecutory drug laws.

    A CCA dominated state prison system is more dangerous in this regard than California’s prison guard union, or its Narcotics Officer union, who infamously lobbied against drug law reform in California. Deep pocket tyrants such as Dick Cheney invested $85 million in stock in the private prison industry, specifically the Vanguard Group, for which he received some unwanted attention by a Texas DA:

    Dick Cheney’s Financial Ties to Private Prison Companies:

    Dick Cheney Indicted by Texas Grand Jury:

    Texas DA Reveals Evidence That Led to Dick Cheney Indictment:

    Of course, Cheney was too well insulated to be brought down by a political conflict of interest, which easily summarizes the fact that Americans have little or no protection from these kinds of forces and attacks upon their remaining civil liberties. The private prison system is an example of how individual tyrannies feed upon and reinforce one another to collectively produce one huge totalitarian state.

  9. The same argument applies to our national defense industry. As Eisenhower said, “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

  10. AddyCat says:

    This is one of the reasons why I think it’s extremely important for lawyers to get involved with this issue – this is the monster criminal justice system WE have created and that WE run at all levels, from the legislature to the judges.

    I have some good news on this point – I am working with a group of law professors from various schools in my area, to begin to engage the legal profession more fully. We just received sponsorship to host a speaker at Duke in April! It’s a small thing now, but I predict we will do much more…

    Also, I have appreciated the good fun in kicking Jackass Marshall’s know-nothing behind over at Ethics Alarms. Dude actually threatened to report my supposed unethical behavior to the bar. Luckily, no bar association gives a shit what he thinks.

  11. Duncan20903 says:

    If there’s some kind of conspiracy to turn the nation’s prisons over to private interests, they’re most certainly not competent in their efforts to achieve that goal.

    Corrections Corporation of America, down 82.72% from its all time high.

    When it comes to this issue people that are against it make as much sense as Jack Murphy, and make him look like someone who cares about factual evidence.

  12. Weimar Wheelbarrow says:

    The security state is the last bubble. Where will Delbert work in Anustown, USA if the prison closes? Apologies to Ayn Rand but you may know your society is doomed when stocks of private prisons are briskly bought and sold.

    • thelbert huffman says:

      apologies to weimar wheelbarrow ,but you know your portfolio is doomed when the markets are rigged. i’m sure delbert will find a job at the wheelbarow factory. oh yeah. it’s in china.

  13. Fred Grue says:

    A disgusting manifestation of the prison-industrial complex at work. Obviously our society doesn’t truly care about treating the causes of crime or of drug addiction. Why put people in heroin rehabs when we can just turn addicts into cost-free slave labor for the corporations to exploit and use to prop up the lucrative incarceration industry?

  14. Atrocity says:

    This gives me an idea for a sitcom: Happy couple finds out they’re about to have a baby. Hilarity ensues when they can’t stop arguing about which prison they hope it will get into.

  15. I'mHittingTheSack says:

    I’ve stirred a huge hornets nest up over here:

    Enjoy finishing them off!

    • darkcycle says:

      I don’t think there’s a point thereMalc. Den of facists and racists. Besdes, I’m tethered to a three year old all day, can’t really engage….

      • That'sTheWholePoint says:

        It’s cool DC; I know how busy you are. – I just thought it may be a fun to watch.

        I’m a glutton for a challenge, and besides, it’s no good preaching to the choir.

        And I possibly would never have got around to it but, as a rebuttal to one of those brain-dead dolts, I just spent 5 hours of solid research to come up with the following boiler-plate: (I’ve removed most of the links to avoid Pete’s spam filter)

        Prescription drugs kill some 200,000 Americans every year.

        “An estimated 770,000 people are injured or die each year in hospitals from adverse drug events (ADEs),4 defined as an injury resulting from medical intervention related to a drug. Not all, but many, IF NOT MOST, of these adverse drug events are preventable.”

        * The number of deaths from drug poisonings in the U.S. has increased sixfold since 1980.

        * In 2008, more than 41,000 people in the U.S. died from intentional and accidental poisonings – Nine out of 10 were due to drugs. These deaths exceeded the number of deaths from automobile accidents making poisoning the leading cause of injury death. (CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics 1980 to 2008)

        Fully 40% of these deaths in 2008 involved the use of prescription opioid pain relievers such as codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone, (was 25% in 1999) – In 2008, Cocaine was involved in about 5,100 deaths and heroin was involved in about 3,000 deaths.

        * PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLERS: drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, the main ingredients in Oxycontin and Vicodin, landed 305,885 Americans in emergency rooms in 2008 — more than double the 144,644 visits in 2004, (2010 study by Samsha and the CDC)

        Overdose deaths involving these opioid pain relievers (oxycodone and hydrocodone; and synthetic narcotics such as fentanyl and propoxyphene) now exceed deaths from heroin and cocaine combined (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
        Prescription drug overdoses have been increasing in the United States over the last decade, and by 2008 had reached 36,450 deaths – almost as many as from motor vehicle crashes (39,973).

        * VIOXX: On January 24, 2005, the medical journal The Lancet published on its website a report on Vioxx risks that was previously blocked by the FDA. The study found that Vioxx may have caused as many as 140,000 cases of heart disease in the United States and as many as 56,000 deaths during the five years that it was on the market. The newly published study of 1.4 million patients shows that that low doses of Vioxx increased the risk of heart disease by about 50%, and higher doses increased it by 358%.

        * ACETAMINOPHEN: ( found in more than 300 products with sales in the billions of dollars annually) overdoses are the leading cause of acute liver failure (ALF) in the United States, Great Britain and most of Europe. Acetaminophen toxicity accounts for approximately 50% of all cases of ALF in the United States and carries a 30% mortality. -More than 100,000 calls to Poison Control Centers, 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations and nearly 500 deaths are attributed to acetaminophen in the United States annually.

        * ANTIDEPRESSANTS: The respected journal, PLoS ONE, published a study in June 2010, showing that men who are depressed and take trycyclic, SSRI, or any other antidepressants die at a significantly greater rate than those who don’t. – Performed in Australia, the study followed 5,276 men aged 68-88.

        “The results of this study indicate that the 6-year adjusted mortality hazard is twice as high for men with depression compared with non-depressed men and that the use of antidepressants is associated with an independent rise in mortality of 30%. .. We found that antidepressant treatment increases the mortality hazard of men by 30%, and this association is independent of the presence of clinically significant depression. .. It is also important to consider that the use of antidepressants has been associated with numerous potentially harmful effects, some of which may increase morbidity and mortality. For example, antidepressant treatment has been linked to increased risk of injurious and non-injurious falls in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, and there is some evidence that the use of common antidepressants increases the risk bleeding in various body systems, including the central nervous system, as well as the risk of incident diabetes. In addition, recently published findings from the Nurses’ Health Study showed an increase in the number of sudden cardiac deaths associated with the use of antidepressants, a result that is consistent with our observation of an excess of cardiovascular deaths amongst men using antidepressants.”

        Postmenopausal Women on antidepressants are 45% more likely than those not on such medication to have a stroke, and 32% more likely to die of any cause. – There is an increased likelihood of Hemorrhagic strokes (bleeding in the brain) which is possibly the result of the anti-clotting effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which are most frequently prescribed for depression. The authors of the study noted that since post-menopausal women make up the largest segment of patients in the United States on antidepressants, the resulting increases in strokes and deaths across the country could be significant.

        A study published in 2009 found that SSRIs interfered with the breast cancer medication tamoxifen, with tumors more than twice as likely to return after two years in women taking antidepressants compared with those taking tamoxifen alone.

        Children whose mothers take Zoloft, Prozac, or similar antidepressants during pregnancy are twice as likely as other children to have a diagnosis of autism or a related disorder.

    • Pete says:

      Very impressive work there, Malcolm. You really got them going!

      • Gee says:

        Thanks guys!

        It’s amazing that such a weird zoo actually exists – this morning, after I’d finished mopping-up there, I was forced to take another shower.

    • TINMA says:

      Kudos to you malcolm! I just love to see people resort to childish remarks and comeback when they have nothing…such as mightymouth.

      • ZooShocked says:

        Thanks T!

        After being in that (insert apt word here) for so long, the rest of the day was quite surreal – I cycled off into town and everybody I met behaved so reasonably, I thought they were all acting.

    • TINMA says:

      I especially like this one:

      What pure crap. Quite an

      Submitted by NC Cop on Wed, 02/15/2012 – 8:33am.

      What pure crap.

      Quite an interesting lot of “facts” you have there. Or should I say propaganda.

      Of course what you leave out is the fact that most of the violent crimes that occur in a city occur in minority area. So if that is where most of the crime is, where are police supposed to do their enforcement?

      Would it make more sense if we operated and concentrated in areas of the city that have little to no crime rate??

      See, it’s the difference between book knowledge and reality. You can drudge up any propaganda points you want. In reality, that’s how it is.

      End to drug prohibition? THAT’S the answer? Hey genius, in case you haven’t noticed Mexico has legalized “personal” amounts of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, etc. and they have one of the biggest drug wars on the face of the earth raging inside their borders. Again, the difference between looking up stats and the real world.

      They just legalized personal amounts in the last few years moron.This was to concenttrate police resorces on the cartels. The drug war has been going on for a very long time

  16. claygooding says:

    Medical Marijuana Activists to Protest Obama’s DOJ Crackdown Thursday in 9 Cities, 6 States

    “”San Francisco, CA — Medical marijuana activists are planning to protest the Obama Administration’s attack on medical marijuana states this Thursday by staging protests in 9 cities and 6 states. Rallies are planned to take place at an Obama fundraiser in San Francisco, as well as at the president’s campaign headquarters in Sacramento (CA) and San Diego (CA), and at federal buildings in several cities, including Trenton (NJ), Phoenix (AZ), Seattle (WA), Eugene (OR), and Portland (ME).”” snipped

    Short notice,,good luck to all attending!!!

  17. TINMA says:

    If this isn’t a huge sign that society is sick…i don’t know what is.

    So when will they start putting brands on prisoners and starting the Death Race 3000 games?

    The movie ‘Gamer’ is a twisted peek at what Private prisons could become.

    • kaptinemo says:

      So is this one: FORTRESS

      Science fiction, yes, but only as far as technology, as it predicted the especially hellish social conditions a prison-for-profit environment could generate when there’s no oversight of its’ operations beyond a boardroom…and only a decade after its’ release we began to read of private prisons where prisoners being forced to fight each other, gladiator-style, wearing taser-belts, etc. Very prescient movie.

      Very scary movie, too; it notches up the horror without warning. Very graphic violence. Not for weak stomachs.

      • darkcycle says:

        ?..ah, afraid I’ll have to take a pass there, Nemo. My stomach is just fine with violence. My head, on the other hand, can no longer tolerate it. I’ve discovered in my case just a violent movie can bring back my sleep disturbance and trigger a week or so of hyper-vigilance. It drags me down.

        • darkcycle says:

          Here’s a wonderful side effect of my aversion to violence. My son, now three years old, does not even know what a gun is yet. We went to play date and that child had a bright red M16 toy. My son immediately picked it up by the barrel and tried to use it as a baseball bat. When that did not work, he looked at it strangely and discarded it.
          When the time comes, I am going to teach him that stuff, but not the way this culture wants me to. I’m going to teach him that peace is the way, and that violence isn’t an exciting game, it is for keeps and serious business. And I plan on enrolling him in the dojo of my friend, Sensei Mike, as young as Mike will take him. I intent to delay his introduction to violence as long as I can. I grew up surrounded by very violent people and began my experience of it very early.

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  19. darkcycle says:

    I figure, knowing what I know about America, if I can delay that ’till he enters school, I’m doing pretty damn good.

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