If the ultimate goal of a prison is to separate harmful individuals from the pack, then it is time we reflect honestly about the impact of our private prison industry . The private prisons industry, which according to the Center for Responsive Politics, has invested nearly $18 billion dollars on lobbying alone over the last ten years, makes money by locking people up, and the more people they keep behind bars, the more money they make. Even worse, many of these prisons are founded with contractual obligations that guarantee 90 percent or 100 percent occupancy. In that event, there is a clear conflict of interests between safety improvement for a community and revenue for our penal system.
The two largest for-profit prison companies in the United States – GEO and Corrections Corporation of America – now earn in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and much of this goes completely unnoticed by the average citizen.
This Huffington Post report found that private companies house nearly half of the nation’s immigrant detainees, which is steep growth when compared to about 25 percent a decade ago. In total, the USA is home to roughly 130 private prisons with about 157,000 beds that must be filled.
Private prisons appear to be obviously morally backwards, they don't save money and they have a deep history of performance problems. Why do private prisons continue to grow in numbers?