How private prisons are profiting off of the anti-immigrant movement

Transcript after the jump.

This video and the new campaign that accompanies it highlights what we already discovered last year during the SB1070 debates: private corporations that run detention centers (funded by tax payer dollars) are lobbying for bills that mean more people are detained in their centers. This of course, means more profit for them, to the tune of about 5 billion dollars per year.

The way immigration has been handled in this country has always been about profit. We need undocumented immigrants in this country so that companies can hire workers who will work for way less than minimum wage, not unionize, work in unsafe conditions, all without the ability to fight back (they can simply threaten to call immigration on them). All of the cheap food and cheap products that we buy and eat profits on the backs of immigrant labor. Those companies (and individuals) don’t want the immigrant workforce to gain status–it’s not in their financial interest. The history of immigration to the US has always been fueled by an undercurrent of profit.

It’s disgusting and inhumane. I oppose the privatization of prisons in the first place, because it encourages practices that are best for the bottom line, not the people who are incarcerated or detained.

The good news is that following the money allows us to highlight the hypocrisy of elected officials who are influenced by lobbyist and campaign donations from these corporations. It allows us to expose what these bills are really about: xenophobia, racism and profit-mongering.

You can follow the Brave New Foundation’s new campaign here.

Immigrants for Sale

The detention of migrants is a multi-billion dollar industry, one in which immigrants are traded like products. They are for sale to the highest bidder.

Who benefits and who profits?

Player#1: The Corporation – Private Prisons

Corrections Corporation of America or CCA, The Geo Group and the Management and Training Corporation combined own over 200 facilities in the nation (and one in Guantanamo) with over 150,000 bed spaces for a total profit of close to 5 billion dollars per year.

Private prisons profit like a hotel, the more occupants that go in, the more money comes out.

“You just sell it like you were selling cars, or real estate, or hamburgers” (On Screen: Thomas Beasley, a former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party and founder of CCA)

Private prisons rely on anti-immigrant laws that guarantee them access to fresh inmates. Here’s how they do it…

Player #2: The Lobbyists

The membership organization comprised of state legislators, and powerful multi-national corporations including the Corrections Corporation of America.

laws like Arizona’s SB1070.

Player #3 – The Legislators

Russell Pearce  – like CCA – is an ALEC member, one with obscure ties to National white separatist neo-nazi groups.

During an ALEC meeting, CCA and Pearce crafted a model legislation that became, almost word for word, Arizona’s SB 1070 in an effort to profit from detainee immigrants.

Whether people are illegal or not doesn’t matter as long as they fill the detention facilities for days, months, or even years.

Which means that…

SB1070 and their copycat laws sprouting up across the country represent the perfect money machine.

Outro –

These are the players: Their greed knows no limit – their reach knows no boundaries.

Stay tuned as Cuentame and – go from following the players – to following the money.

Join the Conversation

  • Kristen

    “Private prisons profit like a hotel, the more occupants that go in, the more money comes out.”

    Something I’m not connecting is how this is paid for. I’m guessing it’s the state government that pays for it, but I’m having trouble finding an article explaining this more specifically. As an Arizonan, I’d love to know the implications this has for our deficit, in light of other budget cuts that have taken place recently (education, mental health..etc.).

    • Alicia

      Private prisons operate by setting up shop in places where there is a shortage of cells in public prisons. The private prison decides on a rental price for the government to pay for use of their facility. The government then pays them for every individual sent to a private prison. In order to keep tax dollars flowing into their prisons, they pay off judges to send anyone that ends up in their courtrooms to the private prison. This results in unfair court hearings. Citizens, often minors and minorities, are sent to prison without even having committed a crime or for incredibly minor offenses. On top of this, the longer they are kept in the prison, the more money the private prisons make. So, anyone who is in the private prison, fairly or unfairly, often ends up being in there way longer than what they were sentenced for. It’s an unending cycle.

      • Kristen

        Thank you for clarifying!

  • Neil

    I agree that lobbying by for profit prison reforms is a big problem in affecting penal reform. I wanted to mention that I do not think that prison employee unions should be given a pass on this issue. Prison guard lobbies also lobby for tougher sentencing and more prisons in order to increase the size and power of their unions. The presence of both labor and business constituencies that are both pro carceral state is problematic because it facilitates the presence of pro incarceration interest groups on both sides of the aisle.