It’s discouraging to see the steady progression of the prison population in America. Instead of dealing with social issues, we prefer to put people behind bars for smaller and smaller offenses in a blighted attempt to keep the peace. We take our national cue from Obama who, too frightened to proactively move, leaves Guantanamo an open and seeping sore on our national visage.
If you have money in America, you can pay your way out of doing hard time — but if you’re an immigrant — watch out, because the prison path is much more perilous for you because of the burgeoning private prison system:
A publicly traded company, CCA is the largest private prison contractor in the U.S. ICE pays CCA about $90 a day per person to keep immigrants behind bars and to manage every aspect of detainees’ lives, running its prison much as the government does. The main difference is that CCA locks people up for profit.
The private prison system runs parallel to the U.S. prisons and currently accounts for nearly 10 percent of U.S. state and federal inmates, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Those numbers rise and fall in response to specific policies, and CCA has been accused of lobbying for policies that would fill its cells—such as the increase in enforcement of regulations like the one that snagged Cardenas. Tougher policies have been good for CCA. Since the company started winning immigrant detention contracts in 2000, its stock has rebounded from about a dollar to $23.33, attracting investors such as William Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, which is now its largest shareholder.
CCA has current contracts with ICE and other federal clients, as well as 19 state prison systems. Its largest competitor, the Geo Group (GEO), is slightly smaller, and together they account for more than $3 billion in gross revenues annually. The next-largest player, MTC, is privately held and does not disclose numbers, but the industry as a whole grosses just under $5 billion per year.
Are companies like CCA keeping us safer, or are they just skimming the cream off the top of the incarceration churn of a for-profit, and punishing, immigration policy?
Is it right to search out and round up non-violent offenders and then ship them back to their motherland for minor infractions?
Do we want to ever provide equal protection under the law for everyone who lives and works in the USA — or do we only want to protect our own?