Making a Profit from Detaining Immigrants

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Cracking down on illegal immigrants not only wins points with angry voters, but also boosts the bottom-line of private prison corporations. With the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency capturing thousands of undocumented workers each year, and only capable of housing 13% of them in its own detention centers, ICE has turned to private contractors to imprison those awaiting hearings or deportation. ICE holds an estimated 380,000 people in detention while waiting for hearings, bail or deportation.

The largest private prison operator is Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which reportedly houses about 75,000 illegals at any time in more than 65 facilities in 20 states. CCA currently has about half of all immigrants detained in private facilities, with the remainder imprisoned by The Geo Group, Cornell Companies and other companies.
Private prisons can make an average of $200 a day per detainee from ICE. Some detainees can spend upwards of a year in a CCA or other private facility until they’re deported by ICE.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
A Long Stay (by Yana Kunichoff, Truthout)


Mike Tartaglia 13 years ago
The Long Stay is a fantastic article. It's a shame to see how effective CCA is at peddling their influence via political connections and their work in ALEC. ALEC is a registered nonprofit which for some reason is able to promote model legislation (as far as I know, nonprofits aren't permitted to engage in that sort of political work), but as this article notes, it brings in millions of dollars in revenue and serves as little more than a front group for corporate interests that run directly counter to what many Americans want their tax dollars to be spent on. We spend nearly $70 billion per year to incarcerate people, mostly our own citizens, throwing billions of dollars at companies like CCA and GEO that have long and sordid histories of abusing prisoners under their care. Private prisons are a scourge on this country. For way more information on how private prisons are wasting our money and violating human rights across the country, check out

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