Gov’t Guarantees 90% Occupancy Rate In Private PrisonsSubmitted by go213mph on Fri, 09/14/2012 - 02:03
At a time when states are struggling to reduce bloated prison populations and tight budgets, a private prison management company is offering to buy prisons in exchange for various considerations, including a controversial guarantee that the governments maintain a 90% occupancy rate for at least 20 years.
Federal Bureau of Prisons director Harley Lappin speaks during a news conference at the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Ill., in 2009.
The $250 million proposal, circulated by the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to prison officials in 48 states, has been blasted by some state officials who suggest such a program could pressure criminal justice officials to seek harsher sentences to maintain the contractually required occupancy rates.
“You don’t want a prison system operating with the goal of maximizing profits,” says Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat and advocate for reducing prison populations through less costly diversion programs. “The only thing worse is that this seeks to take advantage of some states’ troubled financial position.”
Corrections Corporation spokesman Steve Owendefended the company’s “investment initiative,” describing it as “an additional option” for cash-strapped states to consider.