In this midst of the great immigration debate, it makes sense to pause for a moment to consider some the interests arrayed against relaxed enforcement of our labyrinthine immigration policies. Who, after all, stands to benefit from stepped-up enforcement? How about the Prison-Industrial complex and it's web of for-profit prison companies like the Corrections Corporation of America?
In the grotesque calculus of the CCA world-view, more enforcement means more detention and more detention means more money. And, thanks to increasingly draconian policies enacted by the Bush administration which seek to detain more and more foreigners despite studies that show that almost 90 percent of those released to non-for-profit organizations (rather than being detained) actually show up for their hearings, CCA is likely to get it's windfall.
Right now, despite the fact that we continue to incarcerate people at an ever expanding rate, CCA has about 5,000 beds available. To fill them, they are aggressively bidding for a contracts to house 1,200 non-citizens in criminal cases, 2,800 incarcerated guests of the US marshall's service and several others.
According to Getahn Ward a writer for the Tennesssean, "CCA generates nearly 40% of its annual revenue from federal contracts -- 16% from the Bureau of Prisons, 15% from the U.S. Marshal Service and 8% from ICE. CCA's ties with ICE date back to the company's early days in 1983, when it was hired to build and run the Houston Processing Center for the agency that was then called INS.
Last year, the company housed 1,200 ICE inmates who had to be moved out of Florida because of Hurricane Wilma. "They're our largest single customer with needs south of the border," said Damon Hininger, vice president of federal customer relations at CCA. "With all the national emphasis on enforcement on the Southwest border and more resources available for patrol, that's going to have direct correlation with the need for detention."
Quick, shovel some more bodies into the system, the shareholders are getting anxious.