THE BLOG
02/22/2012 10:52 am ET Updated Apr 21, 2012

Private Company Makes Bid to Control State Prisons

As a spunky thirty year old, I went to visit my dad in Boca Raton one summer, and perhaps for the shock value confided to him that I was writing pornography. My father wasn't easily shocked. He looked at me, and said simply, "There's lots of money in pornography."

And, he was right. There was then and still is lots of money to be made in hard and soft porn, but the real money to be made now is in prisons.

Last week Reader Supported News reported that a giant private prison company, Corrections Corporations of America, has approached virtually every state in the union with the offer that they'd buy up their prisons, and "manage convicted criminals at a cost-savings."

What better time for such an offer, too, when states like California are releasing many minor offenders for lack of money, but a closer look shows that this kind of offer is not unlike a leveraged buyout of federal and state prisons, but with one obvious caveat: per Reader Supported News, too, the company in this case, Corrections Corporations of America, is demanding a 20 year contract. And, more importantly, prisons must be delivered 90 percent full. Ninety percent full of what, you might ask, of human "product." Inmates are the assets at the root of prison privatization.

CCA has already devoted $250 million to this so-called prison management venture which is, in reality, not unlike the reconstruction deals awarded to Halliburton after the occupation in Iraq. The independent contractors earn just as much revenue as the parent company.

One in 100 Americans are behind bars as the New York Times has reported. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. That number is bound to grow when more companies like Corrections Corporations of America get a whiff of all the money to be made in this industry.

This is nothing new, of course, former vice-president, Dick Cheney's Vanguard Group, while dealing in mutual funds, has famously found a breeding ground for investor money in private prisons for the past several years.

What's the difference between what CCA is doing, and what Vanguard and other companies that deal in privatizing prisons have done?

Well, for openers, Corrections Corporations of America is taking its bid to the states, 48 states in all, and is insisting upon a 20 year contract for services rendered. More importantly, CCA will only work with those states that produce can produce a full house, thus they provide dangerous incentives to law enforcement, district attorneys, and judges to book first and ask questions later, if ever. Essentially, what Corrections Corporations of America is capitalizing on is the burgeoning incarceration business.

To think that any firm can engage in gross profit-making that leads to questioning whether those who are incarcerated have even benefited by their right to a fair trial is both nauseating and noxious to any society that even pretends to be democratic.

For the practice of incarceration based on crime to be privatized, and that insidious practice to be neutralized by euphemisms like convict "management" is repugnant, an no less repugnant than an image of the devil selling time shares in hell.

CCA claims it will help states control costs of their prison system, but what they really want, of course, is a piece of the action. The larger question is, does anyone deserve to make profit off human "product," especially when that profit margin depends upon locking up as many of those who have been systematically disenfranchised by a judicial system that has been compromised for generations?

When payday for corporate carpetbaggers comes as a consequence of further marginalizing those who already endure chronic civic disenfranchisement, can there be greater moral turpitude than that?

Any firm whose sustainability hinges on the management, and exponential proliferation of human "product" for profit can only be called a corporate pimp and since, as Mitt Romney says "corporations are people," it must follow then that corporations can be pimps, too.

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