Prison companies GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America already have prison contracts in the state of California. CCA also has lucrative contracts to incarcerate California prisoners in out-of-state private prisons. The state is currently under a court order to reduce overcrowding in its prisons after the Supreme Court determined in Plata v. Brown that prison conditions in California were unconstitutional.
Advocates in California have urged Governor Jerry Brown to prioritize safely reducing the prison population through a variety of means. However, Gov. Brown has dug in, arguing instead that the state should expand contracting with private prison corporations and send more prisoners out-of-state. Private prison corporation GEO Group is investing in this prospect, donating the maximum amount allowed to Gov. Brown's campaign. According to the LA Times:
"Brown's campaign fund reports receiving two $27,200 checks in early January from the GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Fla. The company in September signed contracts with the state worth $150 million to house 1,400 inmates in two low-security facilities within California, in Adelanto and in McFarland. That's more than double the $25,900 that GEO gave to Brown late in the 2010 race, an amount it also gave to Brown's competitor, Meg Whitman."
It doesn't bode well when Gov. Jerry Brown's criminal justice policy seems to reward private prison corporations over prison reform advocates. We will keep you posted on developments from California.