Business is Booming: Private Prisons in California
The Corrections Corporation of America is doing big business in California at a time when others are failing. Why? Because imprisoning people is profitable in America. CCA is the McDonalds of American imprisonment.
Capitol Weekly reports that CCA has gone from $23 million in California contracts in 2006 to $700 million at the end of 2009, all without going to bid.
The CCA (you’ll have a hard time to find the words "Corrections Corporation of America" on their website ) boasts:
CCA designs, builds, manages and operates correctional facilities and detention centers on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Marshals Service, nearly half of all states and nearly a dozen counties across the country.
CCA recruits and trains people in the craft of imprisoning people; typically training poor people as guards to watch poor people as prisoners, modifying Jay Gould’s famous quotation, "I can hire one half of the working class to imprison the other half."
One can scarcely blame CCA for Prison America, though it certainly contributes to the problem, and contributes heavily. Capitol Weekly claims the corporation has contributed over $840,000 in California in the last decade, including money spent on candidates of both parties and ballot measures.
The corporation does "research" which is in turn used to fund more services. Here is how CCA describes their role:
As the founder of the private corrections management industry and with a body of subject matter experts whose experience includes public and private corrections, local, state and federal government, academia and other relevant fields, CCA is authoritatively positioned to identify and report on a variety of correctional interests, such as: established and developing best practices, correctional architecture and construction, offender programming, safety and security, quality assurance and more. The Institute also explores issues endemic to successful public-private partnership, such as economic and fiscal impact, cost savings and symbiotic benefits.
Guided by the company’s vision to be the best full-service adult corrections system in the United States, the CCA Research Institute is committed to providing timely information that responds to the nation’s dynamic correctional climate of the 21st century.
Some Democrats in the legislature are reportedly unsettled by the fact that CCA wins its contracts without bid, but even some CCA detractors acknowledge that a bid process is likely to drive the capitalist motive for private prisons.
CCA’s huge prison contracts are a symptom of the problem in California and the United States. We put far more people in prison than any other developed nation, leading critics to wonder if Americans are simply so much more evil than the people of other places, or is there something wrong with our understanding of crime, punishment and justice.
Consider CCA when you vote for a judge or legislator who’s tough on crime; who would they like you to vote for?