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Prison Quotas Push Lawmakers To Fill Beds, Derail Reform

After three violent inmates escaped from an Arizona private prison in July 2010, prompting a two-week, multi-state manhunt, state corrections officials demanded improvements and stopped sending new inmates to what they called a “dysfunctional” 3,300-bed facility. Less than a year later, the company that runs the prison, Management & Training Corp., threatened to sue the state. A line in their contract guaranteed that the prison would remain 97 percent full. They argued they had lost nearly $10 million from the reduced inmate population.

State officials renegotiated the contract, but ended up paying $3 million for empty beds as the company continued to address problems, according to state documents and local news accounts.

Far from the exception, Arizona’s contractually obligated promise to fill prison beds is a common provision in a majority of America’s private prison contracts, according to a public records analysis released today by the advocacy group In the Public Interest. The group reviewed more than 60 contracts between private prison companies and state and local governments across the country, and found language mentioning quotas for prisoners in nearly two-thirds of those analyzed. Full Article

Complete Report (pdf)

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Although I’m libertarian, I recognize that any task delegated to direct maintenance of the US Constitution, such as the defense of the nation as well as domestic law enforcement, must be directly held accountable by the governing bodies, and not through a profit-oriented business enterprise. The reason is very simple: There is a potential bias toward compromising the Constitution. In this case, the 8th amendment comes into play as legal entities would be pressured, financially, to incarcerate guilty offenders rather than give them a sentence more in line with their offense. For the most part, the free market has more… Read more »

On the other hand, no entity has a greater conflict of interest in perpetuating and expanding the police state than such organizations as the California Peace Officers Association, a decidedly non-commercial (though wildly lucrative) lobbying interest. I, too, am a Libertarian and I caution that imagining the civil libertarian horror story that is the U.S. today as an entirely capitalist construct is to miss substantially the fundamental reasons for its existence and fails to correctly identify the root cause of mass hysteria which is promulgated at the level of the citizen. Commercial interests are but one of the net beneficiaries… Read more »

As with all things, there are pro’s and con’s to the free market economy. Karl Marx did have some interesting ideas. You don’t necessarily have to agree with his “solutions” to recognize that he some very valid observations on the problems that a capitalist economy presents. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Karl Marx ever came out and said that capitalism is inherently wrong, he only stated his observations. His ideas of socialism weren’t exactly the same thing that comes to mind when we think about the Soviet Union or The People’s Republic of China. Although, I… Read more »

Lets just cut to the chase, America is in the control business. There is no real freedom here and the government is more than happy to lock you up if you step out of line. Case in point: the war on drugs (what a stupid phrase) to clear proof of this. There is big money is locking casual drug users up…simple as that. Keeps up the illusion that cops are actually doing something useful, keeps people paranoid to only do the “legal drugs” drinking and smoking even though those 2 legal drugs account for most of the violence and health… Read more »

Most people would see a reduction in inmate populations as a result in the reduction of crimes committed…a good thing, right? Not according to our current corrupt government, if we have reduced crime rates, they seem to believe we need to do something about it so that crime rates increase, like creating new laws making more acts illegal!

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