In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan embraced the idea of for-profit prisons. This led to a big boom. Today, these privately ran prisons are homes to numerous undocumented migrants, including children.
Thomas W. Beasley Makes Private Prison History
Thomas W. Beasley is a savvy businessman responsible for the big private prison boom of 1983. He had something valuable for sale. All he needed was a few takers. Beasley said in an interview:
You just sell it like you were selling cars or real estate or hamburgers.
But, three decades ago, Thomas Beasley wasn’t selling burgers, high-end property or classic cars. Instead, he was selling prison space.
In 1983, along with a co-founder, he launched Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Today, we know this company as simply CoreCivic. At the time, President Reagan was pushing his ‘tough on crime’ agenda. And, the spirit of it spread throughout the US.
Of course, this all led to the problem of mass incarceration. The Feds and numerous states were locking people up faster than they could find places to jail them.
Beasley monopolized on this growing problem by selling lockup space to both state and federal governments.
One investigative journalist went undercover as a correctional officer. His goal was to get a behind the scenes look into what goes on inside private prisons.
He wrote about his experience in a book entitled American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment. Check out the book below.
The History of the Private Prison Company Known as CoreCivic
Two years ago, Corrections Corporation of America was renamed CoreCivic. When it launched, CCA quickly became an industry leader in the for-profit prison business.
Today, these businesses bring in about $4 billion each year. They go by various names:
- Private prisons
- For-profit prisons
- Privately owned prisons
These companies have been happy to help with the mass incarceration issues in America’s federal and state prisons. No, they haven’t helped with prison reform. Their efforts have been put toward warehousing inmates.
But, these days, the big dollars for privately owned prisons are in warehousing undocumented immigrants.
Mainly located on the West Coast and in the South, these for-profit immigration detention centers are vastly overcrowded. The US government warehouses immigrant men, women and children at these prisons when they’re caught illegally entering the country.
Trump’s immigration reform has created an urgency to examine the treatment of migrants. The Trump administration has made controlling the US borders high priority. This has led to a mass number of children being incarcerated.
According to a New York Times report, data shows that 12,800 migrant kids were incarcerated in federally contracted private prison shelters in mid-September. That’s five times the number of immigrant children who where in custody about one year earlier.
NOTE: Government officials like to call them detainees. In other words, they are in detainment centers. However, this is just a nice term for immigration prisons for children.
Video: For Private Prisons, Detaining Immigrants Is Big Business
The video below talks about how the private prisons are booming thanks to Trump’s immigration reform. Some pictures to note include:
- Inedible food the private prison served to inmates
- Inadequate, ineffective prison healthcare
- Brutality committed against inmates by correctional officers
- Numerous measures for cutting corners — and, cutting costs
Check out the video below:
Recently, 26-year-old Cortez Diaz was freed from an immigration detention center. A judge granted the immigrant asylum last year in November.
He and others who were housed at California’s Adelanto prison staged a hunger strike. They were protesting the horrible treatment and conditions at the facility. Reports say correctional officers pepper sprayed and beat them while in custody.
Now, they have a class action lawsuit pending against local and federal authorities, as well as the private prison company GEO Group. Diaz told Retro Report:
The conditions in the detention center, they’re bad, right down to the food. They don’t care if someone is sick, if the food goes bad. That’s how we came to say we have to protest.
Pablo E. Paez, spokesman for GEO Group, called the claims “completely baseless.” They claim the situation was reviewed by federal authorities who:
…found that the officers acted in accordance with established protocol.
But, just because a protocol is established, that doesn’t make it fair and just. These protocols obviously need to be reexamined fast.
Filling Up Private Prisons Brings in Big Bucks
During the 80s, Reagan put a lot of “stock” into filling up prisons. That led to a need for privately-owned and operated facilities to help cover the mass incarcerations being handed down.
No one thought to spend taxpayer dollars on new government-managed support services and jail cells. Instead, the responsibilities were handed off to private prisons, creating a booming industry. They would take on the ugly tasks and burdens of housing inmates… for a large fee!
Today, two forces dominate the for-profit prison industry:
- GEO Group
Both claim to build and manage prisons at cheaper rates than governments can. They claim to have less costly and more efficient day-to-day operations. And, they supposedly do all this without compromising the safety of the general public.
Their bottom line claims: By running private prisons, they enable governments to free up taxpayer funds that can be used for pursuits much more important than worrying about house convicts are housed.
CoreCivic’s public affairs manager, Rodney E. King, said:
Privately operated facilities are better equipped to handle changes in the flow of illegal immigration because they can open or close new facilities as needed.
The problem is: Some of us, including prison loved ones and prison advocates, actually do care where and how America’s prisoners are jailed.
And, at the end of the day, it’s all about keeping these private prisons full at all times… by any means necessary.
Trump’s Immigration Reform Creating Mass Incarceration in Privately-Owned Immigration Prisons
According to reports, there are no extensive job training or educational programs in privately-run immigrant detention centers. The operators simply don’t see the need or the point, since most will be deported anyway.
A lawyer for Mr. Cortez Diaz and other Adelanto hunger strikers, Rachel Steinback, told Retro Report:
To maximize profit, you minimize your expenditures.
A 2016 federal review found that America’s private prisons are much more dangerous for both inmates and guards than prisons ran by governments.
However, earlier this year, the Trump camp made it clear that they fully intend to expand the use of privately owned prisons.
Yet, President Barack Obama was against using privately operated facilities to house federal inmates. He created a plan to actively phase out using for-profit prisons for federal prisoners.
Video: How Children Live in US Immigration Detention Centers
In recent months, the country has seen a sharp rise in the mass incarceration of children, all due to Trump’s immigration reform policies.
The video below gives a small glimpse inside immigration detention centers. Notice the cramped conditions and countless children without parents there to protect them and make them feel safe and secure.
This video was published by the NY Post on June 18, 2018.