Monday, August 8, 2011

CCA's Investment in Georgia

CCA and other private prison companies have a business model that relies upon a steady flow of prisoners to remain profitable.  It's a natural outcome of the industry.  Unfortunately for everyone not profiting from locking human beings up, this plays out as companies help write and pass legislation that increases criminal and civil penalties, to the degree that we now have the highest rate and real numbers of incarceration in the entire world.

In Georgia, as in Arizona, CCA has sought to ensure itself a steady flow of "revenue" by first drafting what would become SB1070, and Georgia's copycat bill, HB87, then by contributing to the campaigns of representatives likely to vote on the legislation.  So after spending untold thousands of dollars for a seat at the table with ALEC to write the legislation (literally untold - its pretty much impossible to see who contributes, and how much, to this shady nonprofit), CCA spent over $240,000 in the past 7 years in campaign contributions in the state of Georgia alone.  Of 17 representatives who received contributions from CCA in the previous 2 cycles, only 2 voted against HB87, a piece of legislation that allows police to check immigration status and will undoubtedly result in more immigrants being incarcerated.  Hell, CCA even took 8 of them out to dinner, and, shocker - none of those 8 voted against the bill.  This all in a "conservative" state (wait, I thought they didn't like government intervention?)

But Georgia's legislators didn't stop at illegal immigrants, because there's money to be made in locking up their own citizens as well.  It doesn't seem to matter that private prisons cost the state nearly $10 more per prisoner, per day (so literally millions of dollars more per year, as there are 7 private prisons in Georgia) - the state is forging ahead with plans to open a new, 1,500-bed private prison.  As an advocate said, "These prisons are new plantations, and immigrants are a new crop... there's a huge profit margin."

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