The two largest private prison providers in the U.S. each rake in tens of millions of dollars every year. How do they make their money, and what agreements are in place to protect their profits?
When a prison company approaches a state or city to either build or take over a facility, they’re often guaranteed certain occupancy rates. In other words,
law enforcement is expected to provide prisoners (arrest and convict people of crimes) to avoid getting hit with fines, so the incentive to keep people in jail rather than out of jail is pretty clear.
Private prison contracts that include occupancy rate guarantees (1)
Range of guaranteed occupancy rates; 90% is the most frequent (1)
Amount Colorado taxpayers have been forced to pay in so-called “low-crime” taxes because crime has dropped by about one-third in the past 10 years (1)
95%-100% occupancy contracts: (1)
It’s little wonder that states and cities have allowed private prisons to move in. The biggest prison companies in the U.S., Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, have spent millions lobbying and donating to political campaigns. (2)
$17.4 million in lobbying from 2002-2012
$1.9 million in political contributions from 2003-2012
$2.5 million in lobbying from 2004-2012
$2.9 million in political contributions from 2003-2012
Which candidates have been the biggest beneficiaries of lobbying by private prison companies?
Top candidate recipients, 2013-14 (3)
Lamar Alexander (R-TN) $7,000
Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) $5,000
Steve Fincher (R-TN) $3,500
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) $2,500
Rob Portman (R-OH) $2,500
Henry Cuellar (D-TX) $10,000
Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) $5,000
Joe Garcia (D-FL) $4,000
Mark Begich (D-AK) $3,000
Pete Gallego (D-TX) $2,500