Private prison companies lobby on immigration reform

Over the last decade, private prison corporations have shifted a big chunk of their operations from traditional incarceration to the lucrative business of locking up undocumented workers.

The International Business Times is reporting that companies in the prison business are playing a role in lobbying efforts surrounding immigration reform in Washington DC.

[A] program begun under the Bush administration in 2005…fast-tracked federal criminal charges against people who enter the country illegally, the prison population has ballooned — which means more profits for private prison companies. They would like to ensure a steady flow of illegal immigrants into their cells.

The story singles out Corrections Corp of America, which doled out $881,898 in campaign contributions over the last year, “including donations to immigration-policy hawks like Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), head of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.”

CCA, the largest private prison operator in the U.S., stated in its 2011 annual report that changes to the way the U.S. treats illegal immigrants, “could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”

This debate comes as some private prison operators — in Texas, for example — are already struggling with declining inmate populations, because of drug sentencing reforms and other measures that have cut inmate populations.

It also follows on a growing debate over the ethics of a for-profit prison industry, the political influence of private corporations and unions that have a vested interest in mass incarceration, as well as the use of low wage inmate labor.


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