Then the CCA dangled $250 million in front of officials in other states agonizing over how to squeeze dollars from dirt in a down economy. In return for sacks of cash, the company wants 20- to 30-year contracts for housing criminals. And the already controversial full privatization also requires states to grind out convictions and sentences for two or three decades at today’s pace and severity, maintaining a guaranteed 90 percent occupancy rate—calibrating the wheels of justice to fit a profit-margin spreadsheet.
What the CCA wants to purchase in the states with its “corrections investment initiative,” says Judith Greene, director of the nonprofit Justice Strategies, “is another way to sustain its once-again-threatened business model. They need more than the bailout from immigration detentions.” Greene’s group researches and advocates for reform in correction and sentencing law and policy. A number of studies have shown private prisons bring little or no cost savings, and their profit margins depend mostly on spending less for the biggest business cost—personnel. That means paying less for prison guards, already an extremely low-paying occupation. One result is high turnover and the incompetence that inexperience brings, Greene says. And that has sometimes been a recipe for disasters like prison breaks or prisoner abuse. CCA spokesman Steve Owen says the company is just “one tool in the toolbox for decision-makers meeting criminal justice needs.”
Prison Break: Budget Crises Drive Reform, But Private Jails Press On - Magazine - ABA Journal