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Section Objective

This section discusses how the State generates and encourages profits from incarceration. It also explores how prison guard unions benefit by securing a "tough on crime" Agenda.

Chapter Outline

Download entire "Profits from Incarceration" chapter
of Defending Justice
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Over the past twenty years an idea has grown that entrepreneurs can-and should-make money from prisons. Several factors have contributed to this expectation. First is the idea that State services could be privatized, which in theory could decrease government size, save money and provide those services more efficiently. While the prison system has traditionally been a State industry, conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation have suggested that even prisons could benefit from privatization. Also, changes in federal drug laws and increased convictions with mandatory sentences helped contribute to overcrowded prisons, and a lagging economy decreased revenues available for new prison building. Finally, a handful of specialized corporations, including Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut), have developed a private prison industry that has cornered a small but visible portion of the prison "market;" about 7% of all prisoners are in private prisons in the United States.

Chapter Contents

Pages 215-226 of Defending Justice, edited by Palak Shah

  • Role of the State: Creating the Market
  • Role of the Right: California Correctional Peace Officers Association
  • Organizing Advice: Opposing Private Prison Construction, a Q&A with Citizens Education Project
  • Additional Resources



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