A small but increasing amount of attention over the past decade is being paid to the increased use of private prisons in the U.S. Statistics are now showing that locking people up for profit is overriding the concept of jailing people in the name of justice.

A recent Associated Press investigation has determined one of the causes for a sharp increase in private prisons is the rise in the number of people locked up on immigration charges. In reaction to the 9/11 attacks, the country made changes to immigration laws that made it easier to detain more people and ended up being a major source of increased revenue for the country’s private prison companies. The federal government uses contractors to keep nearly half of the 400,000 people being held on immigration charges. The AP also reports that “nearly every aspect” of a huge budget increase to house those charged with immigration violations in 2005 was given to private prison companies.

There exists a “mutually beneficial and evidently legal relationship between those who make corrections and immigration policy and a few prison companies,” the report concluded, adding that there’s essentially no cost savings being achieved, the main selling point used by those advocating for private prisons. The cost to house a prisoner being held by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has risen from $80 per person, per day in 2004 to $166 today, with the government refusing to provide details explaining the difference.

According to the AP report, “A decade ago, more than 3,300 criminal immigrants were sent to private prisons under two 10-year contracts the Federal Bureau of Prisons signed with [Corrections Corporation of America] worth $760 million. Now, the agency is paying the private companies $5.1 billion to hold more than 23,000 criminal immigrants through 13 contracts of varying lengths.”


To read the rest of the Humanist Network News article, click here.

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