FOI at Work: As detention of immigrants grows, so do private prison profits…

A fabulous piece of FOI-driven reporting from the Associated Press:

The Associated Press, seeking to tally the scope of the private facilities, add up their cost and the amounts the companies spend on lobbying and campaign donations, reviewed more than 10 years’ worth of federal and state records. It found a complex, mutually beneficial and evidently legal relationship between those who make corrections and immigration policy and a few prison companies. Some of those companies were struggling to survive before toughened immigrant detention laws took effect.

A decade ago, just 10 percent of the beds in the nation’s civil detention system were in private facilities with little federal oversight. Now, about half the beds are part of a sprawling, private system, largely controlled by just three companies: Corrections Corporation of America, The GEO Group, and Management and Training Corp.

And the growth is far from over, despite the sheer drop in illegal immigration in recent years.

CCA was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2000 due to lawsuits, management problems and dwindling contracts. Last year, the company reaped $162 million in net income. Federal contracts made up 43 percent of its total revenues, in part thanks to rising immigrant detention.

GEO, which cites the immigration agency as its largest client, saw its net income jump from $16.9 million to $78.6 million since 2000.

At the same time, the three businesses have spent at least $45 million combined on campaign donations and lobbyists at the state and federal level in the last decade, the AP found…


Florida bill would usher breathtaking secrecy into private prison deals…

Prison doors

Image by rytc via Flickr

It never, ever ceases to amaze me how lawmakers can embrace secrecy when farming out prisons to for-profit corporations that have such a well-documented history of abuse, corruption and mismanagement. Could they not just do a little reading about the many problems private prisons have caused in, say, Texas? I mean, heck, a little Google search, people?


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