Subject: McPrison Raises Its Standards
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998
From: From Newspeak E-Zine on McD's & prison labor,
via Tor Neilands <IceT@mail.utexas.edu>
The Corrections Corporation of America has quietly emerged as the McDonald's of private prisons. CCA is now worth $3.5 billion, is among the top 5 performing stocks on the New York Stock Exchange and accounts for nearly half of the 77,000 prisoners who've been purchased for housing by private corporations. Much of this success is due to the philosophy of co-founder Thomas Beasley, who says in the prison business, "You just sell it like you were selling cars or real estate or hamburgers." This refreshing candor has of course invited criticism that private prisons cut too many corners and lower their standards to increase profits. Fortunately, a spokeswoman for CCA named Susan Hart has shown that the high standards of our penal system are being upheld, at least in their hiring practices for guards. In her words: "It would be inappropriate, for certain positions, (to hire) someone who said, 'Yes, I beat a prisoner to death.' That would be a red flag for us." But just for "certain positions".... (``PRIVATE PRISONS, Over the next 5 years analysts expect the private share of the prison "market" to more than double.'' The Nation 1/5)
Special thanks this week to Dan Parry. Newspeak can be had as weekly junk mail by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org and telling us whether you have beaten any prisoners lately.
Tor Neilands, Ph.D.
Academic Computing and Instuctional
Technology Services (ACITS)
U.S. McLibel Support Campaign Email email@example.com
PO Box 62 Phone/Fax 802-586-9628
Craftsbury VT 05826-0062 http://www.mcspotlight.org/
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A large-scale breakout at the West Tennessee Detention Facility could also be a nightmare for the Corrections Corporation of America. Private prison companies are legally liable for their inmates' actions. Even more costly than lawsuits might be the damage done to this company's jealously tended reputation for running efficient and secure facilities. ("It was not a riot," said CCA spokesperson Susan Hart of the October uprising. "It was a disturbance.") That reputation, deserved or not, has helped CCA sieze the dominant market share of the private-prison industry and fueled a meteoric rise in stock value. CCA now has some 30,000 beds operating or under construction in 47 facilities in 11 states, Puerto Rico, Britain and Australia. And in 1995 alone, CCA stock soared from $8 to $37 a share, a jump of some 385%.
CCA is one of a handful of companies on the cutting edge of a privatization revolution currently sweeping the corrections business in much of the United States. Ten years ago the country had barely a thousand private prison beds. There are now almost 70,000 inmates incarcerated in 104 private facilities in 19 states. In each of the last five years the industry has grown at an aggregate rate of 34%. But with 95% of inmates still held in publicly run jails and prisons, projections are for accelerated expansion in the private sector. A recent research document from Equitable Securities in Nashville, boldly titled "Crime Can Pay", issues "strong buy "advice to investors for the top private prison companies. The 55-page, March 1996 report concludes: "We consider the industry very attractive. There is substantial room for continued private-prison growth. "
In the same way that the Internet has spawned a new global industry straddled by powerful American companies, so, too, has the privatized corrections industry given birth to a legion of increasingly powerful corporate players and hatched a new species of consultant, lobbyist, investment banker, stock analyst, and industry academic. With almost $100 billion spent annually in the United States fighting crime, the phenomenon of private-prison companies competing for taxpayer dollars is perhaps the most visible component of a profound shift in social and economic priorities in the United States, a shift some observers term the emergence of "the prison industrial complex."