Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration
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The astonishing range of industries, corporations, and individuals profiting from the imprisonment of over 2.3 million Americans.
"Positive: With the baby boomlet demographics, we foresee increasing demand for juvenile [incarceration] services. Negative:...it is often difficult to maintain the occupancy rates required for profitability."—from a report produced for the private prison industry by investment analysts First Analysis Securities Corporation
Locking up 2.3 million people isn't cheap. Each year federal, state, and local governments spend over $185 billion annually in tax dollars to ensure that one out of every 137 Americans is imprisoned. Prison Profiteers looks at the private prison companies, investment banks, churches, guard unions, medical corporations, and other industries and individuals that benefit from this country's experiment with mass imprisonment. It lets us follow the money from public to private hands and exposes how monies formerly designated for the public good are diverted to prisons and their maintenance. Find out where your tax dollars are going as you help to bankroll the biggest prison machine the world has ever seen.
Contributors include: Judy Greene on private prison giants Geo (formerly Wackenhut) and CCA; Anne-Marie Cusac on who sells electronic weapons to prison guards; David Lapido on how private corporations profit from prison labor; Wil S. Hylton on the largest prison health care provider; Ian Urbina on how prison labor supports the military; Kirsten Levingston on the privatization of public defense; Jennifer Gonnerman on the costs to neighborhoods from which prisoners are removed; Kevin Pranis on the banks and brokerage houses that finance prison building; and Silja Talvi on the American Correctional Association as a tax-funded lobbyist for professional prison bureaucracies.
Bell was serving a life sentence for molesting and killing eleven-year-old Jeanna North. While two TransCor guards were asleep and two others were occupied outside the vehicle, Bell removed his restraints, crawled through a ceiling ventilation hatch, and slipped to the ground as the bus pulled away. The guards didn’t notice he was missing until nine hours later, and delayed notifying law enforcement authorities. Bell was eventually captured in Texas in January 2000.58 Kyle Bell’s escape resulted
Goldfield, Nevada, Jensen told one of the jail staff about the sexual assault.81 Parker was arrested and eventually convicted of four felony charges. On September 29, 2003, Jensen sued TransCor in federal court. Asked why Jensen had been transported alone by a male guard in violation of company policy, an attorney representing TransCor said, “That’s the big question, isn’t it?” Jensen’s lawsuit was settled in January 2004 under undisclosed terms.82 Further, on September 2, 2004, four
emphatically, “I found out that a lot of good people are going straight to hell!” Many prisoners, however, don’t join for the ideology. They do it to transfer from other parts of the prison system, and because completing InnerChange amounts to a get-out-of-jail-free card with the Parole Board: “We have a very positive relationship with the board. Sometimes they just give our inmates a green light and say, ‘See you at work release,’ ” said Larry Furnish, InnerChange program manager at Ellsworth.
Simply put, in stark contrast to most other major sectors of the post-monopoly telecommunications world, far from causing end-user rates to fall (a common experience across most of the American telecommunications landscape through this period) competition in the prison telephone industry has driven prices up. Armed with a uniquely effective monopoly sourcing power, county, state, federal, and private prison officials have entered into what amount to profit-sharing agreements with telephone
like little junior colleges. They become just as important to those little communities, and you can’t get out of them.”22 By 1998 CCA had built two more prisons in Oklahoma and Wackenhut had built one. The state had already contracted for 2,755 private prison beds in Oklahoma and was still housing 1,017 prisoners in Texas private facilities. In April the Corrections Board approved three new contracts for 2,240 new private prison beds, allowing the state to retrieve all its prisoners from Texas