Blog of Rights

Say No to For-Profit Prisons

By David Shapiro, ACLU National Prison Project at 9:50am

Earlier this year, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest for-profit incarceration company in America, sent a letter to officials in 48 states offering to buy state prisons and run them for a profit. We're still waiting to hear what most states will do with the offer.

Sure, at first blush, an injection of CCA money into government coffers might seem attractive to cash-strapped states. But here's the rub: states would be paying CCA for this short-term cash infusion with the liberties and freedoms of their citizens. For the corporation to buy a prison, a state would have to agree to keep it 90 percent full and CCA-operated for at least 20 years.

Privatized incarceration also poses a grave threat to human rights. Late last year, the ACLU of Texas sued CCA after an officer sexually abused multiple immigration detainees. A CCA prison in Idaho was dubbed the "Gladiator School" due to extreme levels of violence. And just last month, a federal judge in Mississippi described conditions in a private prison run by another for-profit company as "a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world."

Today, the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference are sponsoring a call-in day to urge governors to reject the offer. Go here to learn more and tell your governor to say no to CCA's dangerous and costly invitation to buy state prisons.

Fortunately, a few states, including Maryland and Montana, have already told CCA to go fly a kite. It's time for other governors to do the same.

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