At Least Somebody's Doing Well In This Economy: Private Prisons


While the nation’s economy flounders, business is booming for The GEO Group Inc., a private prison firm that is paid millions by the U.S. government to detain undocumented immigrants and other federal inmates. In the last year and a half, GEO announced plans to add a total of at least 3,925 new beds to immigration lockups in five locations. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and the U.S. Marshals Service, which hire the company, will fill the beds with inmates awaiting court and deportation proceedings.

GEO reported impressive quarterly earnings of $20 million on February 12, 2009, along with an annual income of $61 million for 2008 – up from $38 million the year before. But the company’s share value is not the only thing that’s growing. Behind the financial success and expansion of the for-profit prison firm, there are increasing charges of negligence, civil rights violations, abuse and even death.

It's worth reading the entire article. The privatization of prisons is among the worst outcomes of our nation's decades-long plan to migrate public responsibilities to private profit motive.

Companies can be incredibly efficient in the pursuit of their interest, but their interest is not always the interest of the public. When they pursue that interest (maximizing profit) without the appropriate oversight, training and accountability, abuse is not only possible; it's guaranteed.

I was glad to see Obama's announcement last week that he'll be reigning in military contractors and restoring to government many of the functions that should be directly in the hands of "we the people." I hope he takes an equally hard look at this nation's addiction to imprisonment.

If we're going to place 1 in 100 people in prison or jail we should have the cajones to run the lockups ourselves.