Private Prisons and Interest Groups Essay

2660 Words 11 Pages
Private Prisons and Interest Groups


Privately owned prisons began to emerge in the mid-1980s. These prisons emerged because of the ideological imperatives of the free market, the huge increase in the number of prisoners, and the substantial increase in imprisonment costs. (1) Proponents of privatized prisons put forward a simple case: The private sector can do it cheaper and more efficiently. Corporations such as Correction Corporation of America and Wackenhut promised design and management innovations without reducing costs or sacrificing quality of service. (1) Many interest groups comprised of correctional officers, labor works, and a few citizen groups strongly oppose the privatization of the prison system. I will identify four
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At the press conference, ACU released a report that was conducted by ACU Department of Research and Collective Bargaining Services. This report documented private prisons' high incidence of violence, riots and inmate escapes. This report also documents that private prisons promise savings for taxpayers, yet there is no evidence that these savings exist. (3) Similar press conferences took place May 12, 1998 in numerous state capitals across the country.
In January 1999, Correctional Corporation of America converted its corporate structure into a real estate investment trust, or REIT, called Prison Realty Trust. A REIT is a company that gets a huge federal tax break for owning real estate. The tax break is not supposed to go to companies that own businesses, including prisons. However, CCA believed that they had found a way to get the tax break while operating their private prison business. ACU has sent letters to the IRS and the Treasury Department outlining their belief that Prison Realty should not qualify as a REIT and that CCA is exploiting a tax break that was suppose to stabilize real estate ownership. (4)
Aside from letter writing campaigns and informing the public and the press, AFSCME Corrections United also supports legislature against the privatization of prisons. One important piece of legislation is the Public Safety Act (H.R. 979) At ACU's lobbying…