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Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies (Work)

  1. Balzafire
    Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies
    At a time when many policymakers are looking at criminal and juvenile justice reforms that would safely shrink the size of our prison population, the existence of private prison companies creates a countervailing interest in preserving the current approach to criminal justice and increasing the use of incarceration.

    While private prison companies may try to present themselves as just meeting existing demand for prison beds and responding to current market conditions, in fact they have worked hard over the past decade to create markets for their product. As revenues of private prison companies have grown over the past decade, the companies have had more resources with which to build political power, and they have used this power to promote policies that lead to higher rates of incarceration.

    For-profit private prison companies primarily use three strategies to influence policy: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and building relationships, networks, and associations.

    As policymakers and the public are increasingly coming to understand that incarceration is not only breaking the bank, but it’s also not making us safer, will this shrink the influence of private prison companies? Or will they use their growing financial muscle to consolidate and expand into even more areas of the justice system? Much will depend on the extent that people understand the role for-profit private prison companies have already played in raising incarceration rates and harming people and communities, and take steps to ensure that in the future, community safety and well-being, and not profits, drive our justice policies. One thing is certain: in this political game, the private prison industry will look out for their own interests.

    Paul Ashton
    Justice Policy Institute
    June 22, 2011

    Other Resources: Lobbying and campaign contribution figures: Center for Responsive Politics
    Money in state politics: National Institute for Money in State Politics


  1. Addie Daddy
    Re: Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies (Work

    I think this issue is very important and less discussed in the media than it should be.

    Private companies offer biased views on the prison system, and due to their lobbying will hamper efforts to legalize drugs/end the drug war. (Keep in mind, a large amount of the U.S. inmate population is non-violent drug offenders.)

    I do understand that private companies help the budget issues with our overcrowding population; but that makes no sense, since ending the drug war would vastly reduce the number of inmates, as well as free up enforcement money which could go to housing inmates.
  2. Balzafire
    Re: Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies (Work

    If I owned a prison, I would prefer it be filled with non violent offenders. Those are the best kind.
    The idea of private prisons......... is wrong on so many levels.
  3. turborunner
    Re: Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies (Work

    ^agreed, It's pathedic!
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