Corporation Makes a Pitch for Guaranteed Prison Occupancy

Nov. 4, 2012

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s biggest private prison corporation, has ofered to buy prisons in 48 states on condition that the states maintain a 90% occupancy rate for twenty years (described in a comprehensive article by Chris Kirkham in the Huffington Express}


Ohio became the first (and only) state to sell a state-owned penitentiary to a private prison company earlier this year.  The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), directed by Gary Mohr, has since decided that it would not sell any other penitentiary to a private company. The Ohio Correctional facility, formerly a state prison, bought by the Corrections Corporation of America, (COC) was recently cited for 47 violations. The nature of the violations included quality of food, hygiene and sanitation among many others.

A more central concern is the idea of guaranteeing occupancy in a private prison. It’s hard to imagine local officials, including law enforcement, judges, and other state and county officials pressured into filling  prison beds. Instead of a bounty on imprisonment, we need incentives that do the opposite; reduce the number of prisoners behind bars. No doubt that given discretion, private corporations could reduce the costs of imprisonment, But at what cost. Ohio is in the process of finding that out.

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