Lobbying

New Report: Rise in For-Profit Detention Corresponds with Millions in Lobbying by Private Prisons

AUSTIN, TEXAS — A new report released today by Grassroots Leadership, a national social justice organization that works to end for-profit incarceration, examines the increasing seizure of the immigrant detention industry by for-profit prison corporations and their extensive lobbying of Congress to protect their bottom line. Since the creation of the immigrant detention bed quota in 2009, the immigrant detention industry has become 13 percent more privatized. [node:read-more:link]

Who in the House is Cashing in on Immigrant Detention?

As we covered two weeks ago, the "comprehensive immigration reform" measures being debated in Congress could pour even more millions into the pockets of private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group.  The bill passed by the Senate last month would increase funding for programs like Operation Streamline, which funnel immigrants into the federal criminal justice system are result in more immigrants behind bars.  Now that immigration reform has been passed off to the House of Representatives, we've compiled a list of the the six representatives who benefitted the most from for-profit prison money in 2012.

1. Hal Rogers (R-KY), who chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee, and his Help America’s Leaders PAC received a total of $34,500 from CCA, GEO, and MTC.  The number is fitting -- 34,000 is the number of immigrant detention beds Rogers’ committee mandates that Immigration and Customs Enforcement fill every single day.  With more than half of all detention beds operated by private prison corporations, that means big business for CCA, GEO, and their peers.

2.  Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) comes in second on our list, bringing in $24,000 from private prison companies in 2012.  The donations came directly to the Boehner's campaign, through his John Boehner for Speaker Committee, and through The Freedom Project-Friends of John Boehner PAC, which is closely aligned with the speaker.  In fact, CCA was one of TFP's biggest donors, having given it $10,000.  Boehner is not only a promoter of immigrant detention, but also one of the main hinderances to new immigration laws coming before the House.

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Meet the private prison industry’s lobbyists who could shape immigration reform

In the last two years, major private prison companies Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group have spent at least $4,350,000 on lobbying the federal government, primarily to win immigration-related contracts.  What does that kind of money buy you?  Some pretty lucrative contracts, apparently.  In 2011, the federal government paid $1.4 billion to the two corporations, nearly a third of their total profits.

In fact, a 2011 report by Grassroots Leadership and Detention Watch Network found that private prison corporations operate nearly half of all Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds.  What's more, private prison corporations are benefiting greatly from the criminalization of migration through programs like Operation Streamline.  

It’s no surprise – or secret – that immigration reform which reduces detentions and deportations would be a threat to private prison corporations' business.  Business Insider reported on February 2nd that in 2011, GEO Group CEO George Zoley told investors:

"At the federal level, initiatives related to border enforcement and immigration detention with an emphasis on criminal alien populations as well as the consolidation of existing detainee populations have continued to create demand for larger-scale, cost efficient facilities."

That same year, CCA stated in its annual earnings report that immigration reform

“could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them."

So who are these wealthy private prison corporations looking to to win them immigration detention contracts?   Below the jump are just some of the some the major lobbyists for private prison interests in Washington:

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Hump Day Hall of Shame | Texas Prison Bid'ness' Top 5 Worst Lobbyists

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame:  Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

With the Texas legislative session underway, the  Texas Prison Bid’ness blog, a joint project of Grassroots Leadership and Justice Strategies, is shining a spotlight on five of the worst private prison lobbyists in our state.  As they've covered before, GEO Group, CCA, CEC, and MTC pay hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for lobbying services and campaign contributions for state and federal legislators.  Here are five men and women who profit the most from peddling prisons, jails, and detention centers in Texas:

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Corrections Corp. of America Pours Money into Idaho Republican Coffers

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame:  Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

This is the second in a two-part piece on the history of the State of Idaho’s contracting with private prison corporations.

Last week we reported that Idaho, despite a long run of horror stories and lawsuits involving private prison corporations, continues to contract with private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).   CCA operates the Idaho Correctional Center, a facility with the reputation so violent that it has earned the nickname “Gladiator School” from people incarcerated there.

This week, we will explore a possible explanation for Idaho's continued contracts with private prison corporations in Idaho - campaign contributions to influential politicians in the state.  According to data from InfluenceExplorer.comCorrections Corporation of America has donated more than $119,000 in campaign contributions to Idaho politicians since 2002.   GEO Group donated another $14,400 in just two election cycles - 2006 and 2008.  See who has profitted the most from this lobbying money after the jump. [node:read-more:link]

Humpday Hall of Shame: Is Corruption Clouding the Sunshine State?

Welcome to the Humpday Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

What does almost $900,000 in political contributions buy in the Florida State legislature?

For private prison companies the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and The GEO Group, it may buy them the conversion of twenty-nine state correctional facilities to private prisons. Nearly 4,000 state employees and 16,000 inmates will be affected if SB7172 is passed.

Governor Scott’s inaugural fund received $25,000 from Florida-based The GEO Group and $5,000 from the Corrections Corporation of America. In 2010, The GEO Group and its staff made more than $700,000 in political contributions in the Sunshine State. CCA contributed $138,994. CCA and GEO are the world’s largest private incarceration corporations.

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Which Republican Candidates Do Private Prison Corporations Support?

Welcome to the Humpday Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

With the political world buzzing with Iowa caucus results, we thought we'd explore which Republican presidential candidates had received campaign contributions from private prison corporations.  See what we found after the jump, via data obtained at TransparancyData.com.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Texas Governor & Presidential Candidate Rick Perry

Every Wednesday we’ll be highlighting the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

While Texas Governor Rick Perry's record on criminal justice reform has been mixed, his cozy relationship with the private prison industry has raised eyebrows.   Texas has more private prisons, immigrant detention centers, and jails than any other state.

And, according to an article by Tim Murphy in Mother Jones ("Flush With Prison Industry Dollars, Rick Perry Pushed Privatized Prisoner Care," September 1), Perry has been a friend to the private prison industry:

"As governor, Perry, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, has supported privatizing everything from public lands to highways, but according to Scott Henson, a criminal-justice watchdog who runs the blog Grits for Breakfast, the governor had remained largely quiet on the prisons issue—until this year... [node:read-more:link]

Humpday Hall of Shame: Rick Scott

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll be highlighting the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

According to the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, the Sunshine State has seen a significant drop in crime over the past decade; violent crime by 

41% and property crime by 46%. And during this period of plummeting crime rates, the number of incarcerated rose from 47,012 in 1992 to 98,192 in 2008 and in June of 2010 there were 102,232 in custody in Florida’s 144 prison facilities. Approximately 8% of the prison population was housed in the state’s for-profit facilities at a cost to the taxpayer of approximately $133 million a year.

Florida Governor Rick Scott received generous contributions from the private prison industry.  The GEO Group contributed $400,000 to GOP candidates in the 2010 election cycle and the maximum $25,000 to the Governor’s Inaugural Fund.  In fact, politicians in Florida received nearly $1 million in campaign contributions from private prison corporations in that time frame. The Governor appointed top lobbyist, Brian Ballard, who works for both The GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, to his Inaugural Fund and Ballard reciprocated by raising $3million for the event.  Ballard has hosted fundraisers at his home where Governor Scott was the guest of honor.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: ALEC in Arizona

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll be highlighting the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

“ALEC is unique in welcoming the private sector as an equal partner in creating model legislation.”  From New Model Legislation,” ALEC, 2009

“ALEC’s goal is to ensure that each of its legislative members is fully armed with the information, research, and ideas they need to be an ally of the free-market system.”

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) will bring legislators and corporations from all over the nation to consider ‘model’ legislation designed by and for the corporate members of ALEC. This is the group that offered up what would become Arizona’s SB1070, the egregious immigration law that put Arizona on the map as Ground Zero for reactive immigration policy.

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