Nashville, TN – Today, Grassroots Leadership and the Public Safety and Justice Campaign, a national coalition of faith, human rights, labor, civil liberties and civil rights organizations working to end for-profit incarceration, released “The Dirty 30: Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation of America.” The report coincides with yearlong activities critiquing the for-profit private prison company’s celebration of their 30-year anniversary.
A digital copy of “The Dirty 30: Nothing to Celebrate About Thirty Years of Corrections Corporation of America” is available here: http://grassrootsleadership.org/cca-dirty-30
Founded in 1983, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) gave birth to the modern for-profit private corrections industry. Over the last 30 years, the company has benefited handsomely from the “war on drugs” and “tough on crime” sentencing laws, often contributing to advocacy around the creation of these policies. Nearing bankruptcy in the late 1990’s following a rash of publicized scandals, lawsuits and over-speculative expansion, the company found a lucrative market in the detention of immigrants. Now a multi-billion dollar corporation, CCA manages over 60 correctional and detention facilities with a capacity of more than 90,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
“This report demonstrates how CCA, despite major scandals and operational problems, has profited handsomely from our nation’s massive and troubled prison and immigrant detention systems,” said Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership. “It’s clear that private prison corporations have a vested interest in maintaining our system of mass immigrant detention and deportation.”
“The Dirty 30” offers 30 examples from the company’s history intended to shine a spotlight on the grave consequences of privatization for incarcerated people, prison employees, and the public at large, and brings a critical eye to the role of for-profit prison firms in criminal justice and immigration policies.
“This report provides proof positive of the plethora of problems that plague for-profit prison companies. From escapes and riots to homicides, sexual abuse and mistreatment of both prisoners and its own employees, it’s frankly amazing that Corrections Corporation of America has stayed in business for the past three decades.” said Alex Friedmann, Associate Director of the Human Rights Defense Center and President of the Private Corrections Institute. Friedmann served time at a CCA prison in the 1990s.
The report details how CCA has become a multi-billion dollar corporation, but has also become exceedingly controversial. Faith denominations, civil rights groups, criminal justice reform organizations, and immigrant rights advocates have repeatedly argued that adding the profit motive to the prison and immigrant detention systems provides perverse incentives to keep incarceration rates high.
"Corrections Corporation of America has built its fortune through the incarceration of people of color, because that is who make up the majority of those in our prisons and jails. The NAACP believes that the concept of privately-owned companies making a profit by incarcerating human beings is intolerable,” added Dr. Niaz Kasravi, Director of the NAACP Criminal Justice Program.
Civil rights organizations were joined by labor organizations representing professional correctional officers in condemning CCA’s dismal record. “Corrections officers have one of the toughest jobs in America. For their safety, as well as for the safety of inmates and communities that surround facilities, it’s important that Americans understand how CCA and companies like it cut corners and put us all in jeopardy,” said Kerry Korpi, AFSCME’s Director of Research and Collective Bargaining.
Bill Mefford, Director of Civil and Human Rights, General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church, added, “Though I am elated that the United Methodist Church divested from CCA and GEO Group, I know that United Methodists also remain determined to see the work and impact of private prisons come to an end. United Methodists look forward to celebrating the anniversaries of the closing of private prison corporations like CCA and GEO Group and we will not rest until that day is a reality."
A full list of quotes from Public Safety and Justice Campaign members and allies can be found here.
Associate Director of the Human Rights Defense Center & President of the Private Corrections Institute
Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership