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Private prisons spend big money lobbying in Texas

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According to a recent report by Texans for Public Justice, private prison companies are willing to spend big money lobbying for new laws that benefit the prison business.

Texas has always been a prime spot for companies wishing to operate private prisons in the U.S. The two largest private prison companies, CoreCivic and the GEO Group, operate more than 40 facilities in Texas. New data from advocates show how much effort and money those companies put into lobbying Texas officials in hopes of opening new facilities throughout Texas — or protecting their interests in current family detention facilities.

According to the report, private prison companies in 2017 paid 10 lobbyists up to $480,000 dollars to lobby Texas state lawmakers. The GEO Group spent the most, paying up to $320,000 on lobbying. This is evident this legislative session, as one Texas lawmaker admitted that a GEO lobbyist wrote a bill that would give the state of Texas power to license family detention facilities as child care facilities, increasing the amount of time women and children could be detained in these prison camps.

Paying lobbyists isn't all that private prison companies have to been up to either. Between 2013 and 2016, these companies gave more than $225,000 to Texas lawmakers via political action committees. The largest amount of money was given to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Gov. Patrick, and to various Republican leadership committees and caucuses.

Between bidding for new contracts with different communities to operate detention centers or their lobbying Texas politicians, private prison companies’ influence in Texas is evident. GEO Group has been awarded a contract to build and operate a new facility in Texas, and private prison stocks have been on the rise. The report by Texans for Public Justice exposes who has the real power at the Texas Capitol, and it seems to be whoever can pay the largest amount.