Private Prisons Earn Millions Imprisoning Immigrants, Lobby for Stronger Immigration Laws

| by Michael Allen

The private prison industry is earning millions by imprisoning about 200,000 illegal immigrants annually, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Additionally, the private prison industry spends about $45 million lobbying for tougher immigration laws, while claiming they are not trying to influence immigration policy.

Private prisons claim that it's cheaper for them to house undocumented immigrants, but the federal government disputes that claim.

The Associated Press reports on their ten year study:

A decade ago, just 10 percent of the beds in the nation's civil detention system were in private facilities with little federal oversight. Now, about half the beds are part of a sprawling, private system, largely controlled by just three companies: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), The GEO Group, and Management and Training Corp.

CCA was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2000... last year, the company reaped $162 million in net income. Federal contracts made up 43 percent of its total revenues, in part thanks to rising immigrant detention.

GEO, which cites the immigration agency as its largest client, saw its net income jump from $16.9 million to $78.6 million since 2000.

At the same time, the three businesses have spent at least $45 million combined on campaign donations and lobbyists at the state and federal level in the last decade.

"As a matter of long-standing corporate policy, CCA does not lobby on issues that would determine the basis for an individual's detention or incarceration," CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in an email to the AP.

GEO, which was part of The Wackenhut Corp. security firm until 2003, and Management and Training declined repeated interview requests.