Gov’t Guarantees 90% Occupancy Rate In Private Prisons

(Kevin Johnson)  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.

The proposal seeks to build upon a deal reached last fall in which the company purchased the 1,798-bed Lake Erie Correctional Institution from the state of Ohio for $72.7 million. Ohio officials lauded the September transaction, saying that private management of the facility would save a projected $3 million annually.

Linda Janes, chief of staff for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said the purchase came at time when the state was facing a $8 billion shortfall. The $72.7 million prison purchase was aimed at helping to fill a $188 million deficit within the corrections agency.

Ohio’s deal requires the state to maintain a 90% occupancy rate, but Janes said that provision remains in effect for 18 months — not 20 years — before it can be renegotiated. As part of the deal, Ohio pays the company a monthly fee, totaling $3.8 million per year.

Roger Werholtz, former Kansas secretary of corrections, said states may be tempted by the “quick infusion of cash,” but he would recommend against such a deal.

“My concern would be that our state would be obligated to maintain these (occupancy) rates and subtle pressure would be applied to make sentencing laws more severe with a clear intent to drive up the population,” Werholtz said.

  • JamesAt17

    “controversial guarantee that the governments maintain a 90% occupancy rate for at least 20 years.” 20 years??? I can’t even see past tomorrow let alone thinking as far ahead as for the next twenty years.

  • It is really high time that the taxpaying American public that is NOT part of the 2% started to connect the dots. The subtle pressure to create more residents for the US prison population has been underway for a many years. It has been obvious in my community for over a century. If municipalities are making it as hard for low income and low achievers to graduate from high school with the ability to enter college or a career, there is little choice. Folks will do what they must in order to survive. America has long been destroying schools while building prisons. More, not fewer children are learning to read. So now it seems that the effort has intensified. How on earth can any government come out publicly and support this initiative. Americans need to wake up and become outraged. Our elected officials are making these unscrupulous and insensitive decisions? Shame on Ohio and shame on any state that is proposing this. Did the 2% sit down and decide that the cost of building and maintaining prisons has become a hardship for them?

    I say 2% because I include the people who want to be part of the 1% and will do ANYTHING to gain this unsavory honor.

    • Anonymous

      Yes ! How on earth IS right

  • Cassie Eleson

    These private prison owners could increase the capacity of each prison, and then insist on invoking the 90% capacity provision of its contracts with the states, so states would then have no control over prison populations. That makes it look like a gulag. That’s absolutely crazy in America.

  • well, common folks of america, it’s time to adorn your paul revere hats. you see your property has been infiltrated. the rules of the game no longer apply. morality is out the window. look out for your brothers and sisters. there may come a time where we will all have to join hands and face our enemies at home. moral compass, integrity, honor, respect, honesty. we demand it. when these principles become violated by a miniscule yet representative political force in our own country and we sit back, and watch over the course of many years as the government graph of growth grows and grows and grows until what the common folk want and need no longer matters, you can proudly say that yes, this is my america. do you stay and embrace it with open arms and a big beaming smile on your face?

    • Juspassinthrooooo


  • starviego

    It’s like living in West Africa in the golden age of slavery. How long before men with guns come and put you in chains and take you away?

  • starviego

    0r it’s like being in one of those ‘body snatcher’-type movies. In the end, they’ll get to you too.

  • It’s more corporate profit from slave labor.

    Need to read this book out about Americans who finally take a stand against federal tyranny & ends up starting the 2nd American Revolution.

    I recommend it because we are now seeing: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” – Benito Mussolini

    • Juspassinthrooooo

      I agree and I hope we can come together to dethrone these tyrants. Thanks for the link.

  • Juspassinthrooooo

    This shit has got to be stopped. We are putting our kids and their kids into a serious bad place if we continue to let these bastards legislate us into the ground. The people need to stop contracting with the government in ignorance. Put down the drivers licenses, drop your social security cards and quit making deals with the banksters when you know dam well that the money is gone! can I get a network someone?

  • K

    Who was it that said that “money was the root of all evil”?
    To quote a C.S. Lewis work, “they are bent”.

  • prison owning lice

    The owners of this for profit prison corporation and any legislators agreeing to keep it at least at a 90% capacity should probably look forward to having 3 hots and a cot for themselves in their future.

  • Don’t get me wrong, what is reported in the article about this deal, is bad.

    But as usual, stories like this conflate government contractors, government beneficiaries, and private business in the free market. The last of these is mutually exclusive to the rest.

    Government assets should be auctioned off to private interests, with the proceeds going only to the most local government where the asset is located. If your government building (federal or state) is in Sarasota, Florida, then the sale proceeds should go there, so that Sarasota does not need to burden the State of Florida or the Federal Government. The cost savings in less money printing by the FED at the Bankster/Federal Level is obvious.

    Meanwhile, the private purchaser takes 100% of the business risk in his private plans for the use of the building or asset. If he is not willing to take such a risk, then he will not purchase. This shows that the real market for government buildings for sale is less, but that’s ok- because only those with the means, the interest, and the risk tolerance should do it.

    By asking the government to keep him fully stocked with formerly free Americans, he is as bad as the government military contractors who make money off war, or police cameras, or social programs.

    Look at it this way, if the American people only bought houses they had the cash to afford to purchase, then we would see the “real size” of the market for home ownership. We *might* want to expand that market size by those banks willing to take individual corporate risks on those loans (who would have to keep those loans on their books, not sell them, and not have a government guarantee for them)- so that they would take a real interest in only allowing loans to worthy purchasers.

    The same for cars.
    College Degrees.
    Health Insurance.
    you name it!

    Americans have been duped in believing they own their homes when they barely have 10% equity- they don’t. They never did. The mortgage interest deduction was a come on for the benefit of the banks to encourage endebtedness to the banks- on mortgages guaranteed by the government in case their loan recipients were dead beats or lost their jobs.

    But banks also bet against their clients, and in this, destroyed the market, complicit with the Federal Reserve’s low interest rates to go after more suckers- I mean American Dream buyers.

    Back to the prison issue…

    There can be a legitimate private market for prisons and a penal system under Natural Law, but this is not it. To attack private prisons in a free market using this straw man is a logical fallacy.

    The same applies to people upset with the free market in retirement as compared to privatizing social security. One has nothing to do with the other. Simply return the money stolen from everyone under the guise of social security and taxes and let them do with it as they see fit for their family needs. They take all the risks. Those risks will no longer be required of the taxpayer, who long ago should have stopped paying them.

    In fact any time you hear the word “privatize” just know there is a crony deal being struck with the government and a particular business interest, who are trying to get a government hand out or guarantee of payments, like this, without risk to them, and offloading all the risk and cost to the taxpayers.

    It is time to repudiate all the US National Debt. Stop paying taxes.

  • Paul Pace

    Lock up all nigras at puberty. Public schools are nothing more than holding tanks for teeniggers until they join a gang and commit crimes, die on the street or have 8 niglets by as many bucks. Nigras don’t want to learn, commit most violent crimes in the USA and destroy everything they touch. Put them in private prisons where they can earn their keep for a change, instead of being a drain on white taxpayers!

    • ImaHousemouse

      You are a complete and total brainless moron.

  • Silencedogood

    Could a speed camera manufacturer offer a deal to a city to install free camera if the city committed a minimum number/value of speeding tickets each year? Would a purchase contract be binding if I agreed to purchase your house contingent on you painting the people’s house across the street unsightly house? It is time for American citizens to reclaim their FULL rights bestowed under the U.S. Constitition and the Bill of Rights. Interested readers should look closely into who are the major share holders of the Correction Corporation of America and how they align with the New World Order.

  • ImaHousemouse

    ANY place that is run for profit is going to have to make decisions that leave human beings harmed in some way. It’s being done with health care insurance and people die as a result! There is NO ROOM to run prisons FOR PROFIT! That means that they will have to cut things in places that already are cut to the max!
    There is a facility in the south, a juvenile facility, that went private. Young men died! There was treatment akin to torture, and bribery to the judges got more young men put away for virtually NOTHING!
    For profit prisons need to be outlawed.

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