To round out 2012, Texas Prison Bid'ness is highlighting the top private prison stories of the year, based on stories covered by our blog. Our number three story of the year is Corrections Corporation of America's bold offer to buy prisons from 48 cash-strapped states, including Texas, in exchange for long-term guarantees to keep the prisons 90% full.
TPB Big Story #3 - CCA Offers To Buy State Prisons in Return for 90% Occupancy Guarantee, Gets Rejected
First reported in the Huffington Post in February, Corrections Corporation of America wrote a letter to 48 governors offering to buy state prisons and give states an infusion of quick cash. What was the catch? In exchange, CCA wanted a 20 year management contract and guarantee that the prison will remain at least 90% full. As Frank wrote at the time, the deal highlighted one of the fundamental flaws of the for-profit prison model: the need to maintain high numbers of incarcerated individuals regardless of the impact on our tax base and our communities.
A broad coalition of advocacy groups, including the ACLU and The Sentencing Project and many faith organizations, urged state governors to reject Corrections Corporation of America’s (CCA) offer to purchase state and local jails. The groups were joined by Texas State Senator John Whitmire, long-time chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee who told USA Today:
"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."
Thankfully, it appears that no one has taken up CCA on the offer thus far. We'll be monitoring the situation over the next year, as bed-guarantee offers will undoubtedly be a continuing story for some time.