Private corporation to U.S. states: “We’ll buy your prisons if you guarantee 90% occupancy rate”
Welcome to the rest of our corporate-consumer dystopian future. It’s nice to see/hear some politicians speaking out against this development, but we can rest assured that such protests won’t really matter, since all policy decisions are now automatically and universally determined by financial considerations (see the final line excerpted below), and thus, many or most states will inevitably take advantage of the Corrections Corporation of America’s generous offer.
At a time when states are struggling to reduce bloated prison populations and tight budgets, a private prison management company is offering to buy prisons in exchange for various considerations, including a controversial guarantee that the governments maintain a 90% occupancy rate for at least 20 years. The $250 million proposal, circulated by the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to prison officials in 48 states, has been blasted by some state officials who suggest such a program could pressure criminal justice officials to seek harsher sentences to maintain the contractually required occupancy rates. ‘You don’t want a prison system operating with the goal of maximizing profits,’ says Texas state Sen. John Whitmire…Corrections Corporation spokesman Steve Owen defended the company’s ‘investment initiative,’ describing it as ‘an additional option’ for cash-strapped states to consider…The proposal seeks to build upon a deal reached last fall in which the company purchased the 1,798-bed Lake Erie Correctional Institution from the state of Ohio for $72.7 million. Ohio officials lauded the September transaction, saying that private management of the facility would save a projected $3 million annually.
Full story: “Private purchasing of prisons locks in occupancy rates,” USA Today, March 8, 2012