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Private Prisons… Incarcerating people for a profit

A private prison, jail, or detention center is a place in which individuals are physically confined or interned by a third party that is contracted by a local, state or federal government agency. Private prison companies typically enter into contractual agreements with local, state, or federal governments that commit prisoners and then pay a per diem or monthly rate for each prisoner confined in the facility.

Today, the privatization of prisons refers both to the takeover of existing public facilities by private operators and to the building and operation of new and additional prisons by for-profit prison companies.

A study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the cost-savings promised by private prisons “have simply not materialized.” Some research has concluded that for-profit prisons cost more than public prisons. Furthermore, cost estimates from privatization advocates may be misleading, because private facilities often refuse to accept inmates that cost the most to house.

Not since slavery has an entire American industry derived its profits exclusively from depriving human beings of their freedom — not, at least, until a handful of corporations and Wall Street investors realized they could make millions from what some critics call “dungeons for dollars.” My personal description is “People for a Profit.” Since the 1980s, when privatization became the rage for many government services, companies like CCA and its rival, Wackenhut Corporation (now know as GEO Group – which changed their name after a surge of negative publicity), have been luring elected officials with a worry-free solution to prison overcrowding. Claiming they can lock people up cheaper than government can, the companies build cells on speculation, then peddle the beds to whatever local or state government needs a quick fix for its growing criminal population.

The private prison industry has no incentive to reduce crime. Only to lock up more prisoners…. People for a Profit.


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