Immigration Policies Should Not be Driven By Prison Profiteering

On August 7, 2013, officials from the United States and Mexico met in Texas to discuss immigration reform. Roughly 400 thousand people, primarily from our bordering neighbor, are arrested for immigration violations each year.  The creation and enforcement of immigration laws has created a massive industry with a vested interest in continuing the expansion and enforcement of immigration crimes.

Corrections Corporations America, the GEO Group, and Management and Training Corporation house 80% of those apprehended for immigration crimes.  Between them, they make a profit of over $5 billion per year. CCA Founder is quoted as saying selling the concept of private prisons to the government is just “like you were selling cars, or real estate, or hamburgers.”

Prisons should not be run just like any other business.  The social costs are too great to simply consider the supply and demand of inmates, and increasing supply by legislating new crimes or changing enforcement.  Clearly, these companies rely and directly stand to benefit from anti-immigration laws. The Associated Press noted that they spent $45 million on lobbying over the last decade. Since 2005, the largest growth in prison populations came from federal immigration detentions. It has been the leading cause of incarceration for the last four years.   It is the growth sector for these businesses.

Immigration reform is at the forefront of our national and foreign policy.  Decisions need to be made that make sense domestically and for our relationships with our southern neighbors.  Those decisions should also be driven by what is right, fair, and humane.  They should not be driven by the profiteering of the corrections industry.

Follow me on Twitter: @JustinoBrooks

Professor Justin Brooks
Director, California Innocence Project
California Western School of Law
225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101

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7 responses to “Immigration Policies Should Not be Driven By Prison Profiteering

  1. Pingback: 80% of Immigration Criminals Housed In Private Prisons |

  2. It’s good to see you addressing this issue where so many innocent lives have been destroyed, so many wrongfully convicted and wrongfully imprisoned — silenced behind bars for decades. Start here: Arizona should be a case study. Who’s driving public policy? ALEC, SB1070, CCA, Coughlin, Senseman, Governor Brewer, DeConcini, Kris Koblach, Koch Bros., Arizona Board of Regents, Abu Ghraib, GEO?

    Better yet start with going to see the movie, “12 Years a Slave” a true story. Also read “Ebony and Ivy”. America’s shameful history that brought us the mass incarceration of America. Today, laws created so the innocent are facing “Three Felonies a Day”, Harvey Silverglate.

    Now who has the courage to dismantle the self-destruction of our people?

  3. “THE HOUSE I LIVE IN” Official Trailer #1 (2012) Sundance Award-winning Documentary by Edward Jarecki, filmmaker – YouTube

    It should be a civic duty for ALL people to watch this documentary. Four decades of failed policy, where we are today and where we’re headed — unless the people speak up nothing will change. The “old school” mindset has destroyed many families and innocent lives, and needs to be replaced with “smart on crime”.

    Innocent lives, families torn apart, and the taxpayers have been conned and bilked long enough. The elected officials and lawmakers have put their own constituents and the taxpayers at risk for harm, using the taxpayers’ $$$’s to do it.

  4. The founders come out of the hotel industry, touting to potential shareholders, which would you rather invest in? A hotel that can’t fill it’s “beds” or private prisons where the “beds” are filled 100%? If this isn’t the sickest of corporate thinking, we don’t know what it.

    • replaces above comment: The founders come out of the hotel industry, touting to potential shareholders, which would you rather invest in? A hotel that can’t fill it’s “beds” or private prisons where the “beds” are filled 100%? If this isn’t the sickest of corporate thinking, we don’t know what is.

  5. Docile Jim Brady – Columbus OH 43209

    Re empty beds .
    For years a closed motel remained empty off I-70 near the Reynoldsburg/Pickerington exit.

    It would have been an ideal place to hold non-violent low level felony prisoners. The penalty for escape (walking away) from a minimum security “prison” can be as severe as escape from a maximum security one .
    The containment cost at that time would have been minimal.

  6. The incalculable cost of mass incarceration | Al Jazeera America

    “The U.S. imprisons more people than any other society in the history of the world, with more than 2 million people currently behind bars, and private companies are gunning for more (PDF). The Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), just one of several private prison companies, netted $1.7 billion dollars in 2010. CCA’s president and CEO, Damon Hininger, made $3.2 million in 2010. The Geo Group, another top prison company, raked in $1.2 billion and paid its CEO, George Zoley, $3.4 million the same year. The federal government and state governments across the nation funnel money into these private prisons, making them a multibillion dollar industry. “

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