Follow the Money: Trump’s ‘For-Profit Justice’

By KevinMarcilliat, In Criminal Justice, 0 Comments

Can an article from 2015 be just as relevant today as it was two years ago?

The answer is yes, when it’s about for-profit prisons. It’s without-a-doubt yes, following the recent news that the Justice Dept. killed Obama’s executive order (under direction of recently beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions) that sought to do away with private contractors in federal prisons.

Now why would the DOJ want to save private contractors?

Maybe it has something to do with the biggest lobby no one is talking about, as a writer for the Washington Post put it back in 2015.

The $3B private prison industry

President Trump routinely makes bold claims about crime in the U.S., such as that the murder rate is at its highest level in decades, and that “the drugs are pouring in.”

Most of Trump’s claims end up widely debunked.

But, whether or not the drugs truly are pouring in, the $3 billion private prison industry has a vested interest in keeping things going just as they are. Is it any wonder, as WaPo reported in 2015, that the population in private prisons doubled from 2000 to 2010?

Millions spent on lobbying

The two biggest private prison companies in the U.S. – the GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America – have done plenty of it, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. As per WaPo, $10M has gone to various political candidates since 1989, and another $25M or so for lobbying activities.

This isn’t going to end anytime soon, what with Trump’s claims about crime, and Sessions’ move not only to save private contractors in federal prisons, but also to enforce federal laws against recreational marijuana in states where it’s legal.

‘Demand for our facilities adversely affected through the decriminalization of certain activities’

They use the word “demand,” as though they were talking about resort vacations. This smoking gun comes from a 2014 annual report of the Corrections Corporation of America, a paragraph of which was published by the WaPo, as below:

  • The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. … Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.

Read between the lines

Actually, you don’t have to read between the lines. It’s all right there. Perhaps this paragraph was taken out of context, but the message is clear: the for-profit prison industry – just like any other for-profit industry – just wants what’s good for business.