But with crime rates dropping for more than a decade and a new push for sentencing reform and cost-effective alternatives to incarceration, for-profit prison operators have found a new way to keep beds full and profits high. They call them "bed guarantees." Read more...
Criminal injustice: The percentage of African-Americans in prison — MSNBC
One hundred and fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation, the progress made by African-Americans is undeniable–which is why statistics about incarceration in the black community can be so shocking. In 2011 there were more African-Americans in prison or “under the watch” of the justice system than were enslaved in the United States in 1850.
Incarceration: a New American Pastime | MEDIA ROOTS – Reporting From Outside Party Lines
In 1984, a newly formed company Corrections Corporation of America acquired the United States’ very first corrections facility contract for the state of Tennessee. This was the first time in American history that a private, for-profit corporation would control and care for the nation’s incarcerated.Prison Quotas Push Lawmakers To Fill Beds, Derail Reform
Over the next 28 years, the power and reach of the privatized prison system consumed over half of the country’s prison institutions and, in turn, led to a six-fold increase in prisons and inmate capacity in the U.S. The number of correctional facilities and unwarranted incarcerations in America will continue to increase so long as the corporate takeover of U.S. prisons is driven by a corporate philosophy that revolves around perpetual profits and growth.
The prison bed guarantees range between minimums of 70 percent occupancy in a California prison to 100 percent occupancy requirements at some Arizona prisons. Most of the contracts had language mandating that at least 90 percent of prison beds be filled.How profits help drive the war on drugs — Rev. Al -MSNBC
Experts argue that such requirements create an incentive for policymakers to focus on filling empty prison beds, as opposed to pursuing long-term policy changes, such as sentencing reform, that could significantly reduce prison populations. In short, many states are effectively obligated to continue to incarcerate people regardless of crime rates and public safety needs, or otherwise hand over taxpayer dollars in order to satisfy private profit-making companies.
In the decades since President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one in the United States,” the nation has spent more than a trillion dollars on the “war on drugs” and arrested 37 million people for nonviolent drug offenses.
Yet the rate of drug use among high school students is almost identical to what it was 40 years ago, and according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose rates are up.