Articles Posted in Overcrowding

Yesterday, the Urban Institute issued “Stemming the Tide: Strategies to Reduce the Growth and Cut the Cost of the Federal Prison System,” an excellent, comprehensive report offering sensible solutions to the many problems that plague the Bureau of Prisons and the sentencing system that propels its unabated growth. From the report:

BOP facilities are currently operating at between 35 and 40 percent above their rated capacity; this overcrowding is greater in high-security facilities, which in FY 2012 were operating at 51 percent over capacity, with medium-security facilities 47 percent above capacity. The capacity of BOP facilities in 2012 was 128,359, but BOP-operated facilities housed 177,556 inmates in 2012. Since FY 2000, the inmate-to-staff ratio will have increased from about four to one to a projected five to one in FY 2014.

This untenable status quo will be the norm for the coming decade: BOP projects that, through 2020, federal prisons will be overcrowded by at least 33 percent, with the population exceeding system capacity by at least 50,000 people each year. The BOP anticipates adding over 25,000 beds by 2020, but most of these projects have not yet been approved, and would not substantially reduce overcrowding.[…]

The President’s FY 2014 budget request for BOP totals $6.9 billion, reflecting an increase of $310 million (4.7 percent) from the FY 2012 enacted budget. These additional funds will backfill currently open positions, enabling recently completed prisons to operate and, to a limited degree, expand inmate programming. However, these changes will not have any substantial or sustainable impact on the overcrowding or inmate-to-staff ratio trends.

The requested BOP budget for FY 2014 accounts for over 25 percent of the total DOJ budget request. As indicated in Figure 6, if present trends continue, the BOP will continue to consume more of the DOJ budget, approaching 30 percent in 2020. In these fiscally lean times, funding the expanding BOP population crowds out other priorities, including federal investigators, federal prosecutors, and support for state and local governments. This situation is projected to continue into the future, but it is unclear to what extent budget sequestration may exacerbate or decelerate these trends.

FCI Danbury

FCI Danbury

As previously discussed, in July the Bureau of Prisons announced the re-missioning of the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution from a low-security female facility to a low-security male facility. The plan was to disburse the population from Danbury — the only female facility in the Northeast Region besides the small, minimum-security work cadre at FDC Philadelphia — across the country starting in August and finishing by year’s end. Faced with strong Congressional opposition, the transfer process was suspended.

FCI Aliceville

FCI Aliceville

On September 27, BOP Director Charles Samuels responded to the Congressional inquiry through a 14-page letter (here, bottom of page). Among other things, Director Samuels asserted that the opening of FCI Aliceville (AL), to which many of the Danbury prisoners are slated to be transferred, will help reduce overcrowding at female low security prisons from “48% to an estimated crowding rate of 23%.”* This is because “FCI Aliceville’s rated capacity is 1,536 inmates.”

Excluding Aliceville, the BOP operates five low-security prisons for women, which, accounting for their respective rated capacities, current populations and crowding rates, are:

                                   RC       Pop      CR

Danbury (CT)             554      901      63%

Dublin (CA)                702      1,181    68%

Hazelton (WV)           502      563      12%

Tallahassee (FL)        608      1,140   86%**

Waseca (MN)             612      968      58%

Inasmuch as Aliceville is less than 300 miles from Tallahassee, another Southeast Region female FCI, it is remains unclear why the Bureau did not choose to re-mission that Florida facility. Indeed, the transfer process would be easier (a single day’s bus trip) and consequently less expensive than the $847,000 Director Samuels estimates it will cost to transfer the Danbury population. Also, the proximity between the facilities suggests that the hardship on prisoners and their loved ones would be relatively less onerous. Continue reading →

Appearing to build off last fall’s report from the General Accounting Office, The Congressional Research Service(a.k.a., “Congress’s think tank”) has issued an excellent new report, “The Federal Prison Population Buildup: Overview, Policy Changes, Issues, and Options,” the Summary of which reads:


Since the early 1980s, there has been a historically unprecedented increase in the federal prison population. Some of the growth is attributable to changes in federal criminal justice policy during the previous three decades. An issue before Congress is whether policymakers consider the rate of growth in the federal prison population sustainable, and if not, what changes could be made to federal criminal justice policy to reduce the prison population while maintaining public safety.

 

This report explores the issues related to the growing federal prison population. The number of inmates under the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) jurisdiction has increased from approximately 25,000 in FY1980 to nearly 219,000 in FY2012. Since FY1980, the federal prison population has increased, on average, by approximately 6,100 inmates each year. Data show that a growing proportion of inmates are being incarcerated for immigration- and weapons-related offenses, but the largest portion of newly admitted inmates are being incarcerated for drug offenses. Data also show that approximately 7 in 10 inmates are sentenced for five years or less.

 

Changes in federal sentencing and correctional policy since the early 1980s have contributed to the rapid growth in the federal prison population. These changes include increasing the number of federal offenses subject to mandatory minimum sentences; changes to the federal criminal code that have made more crimes federal offenses; and eliminating parole. There are several issues related to the growing federal prison population that might be of interest to policymakers:

 

   The increasing number of federal inmates, combined with the rising per capita cost of incarceration, has made it increasingly more expensive to operate and maintain the federal prison system. The per capita cost of incarceration for all inmates increased from $19,571 in FY2000 to $26,094 in FY2011. During this same period of time, appropriations for the BOP increased from $3.668 billion to $6.381 billion.

   The federal prison system is increasingly overcrowded. Overall, the federal prison system was 39% over its rated capacity in FY2011, but high- and medium-security male facilities were operating at 51% and 55%, respectively, over rated capacity. At issue is whether overcrowding might lead to more inmate misconduct. The results of research on this topic have been mixed. One study found that overcrowding does not affect inmate misconduct; but the BOP, based on its own research, concluded that there is a significant positive relationship between the two.

   The inmate-to-staff ratio has increased from 4.1 inmates per staff member in FY2000 to 4.9 inmates per staff member in FY2011. Likewise, the inmate to correctional officer ratio increased from 9.8 inmates per correctional officer in FY2000 to 10.2 inmates per correctional officer in FY2011, but this is down from a high of 10.9 inmates per correctional officer in FY2005.

   The growing prison population is taking a toll on the infrastructure of the federal prison system. The BOP reports that it has a backlog of 154 modernization and repair projects with an approximate cost of $349 million for FY2012. Past appropriations left the BOP in a position where it could expand bedspace to manage overcrowding but not reduce it. However, reductions in funding since FY2010 mean that the BOP will lack the funding to begin new prison construction in the near future. At the same time, it has become more expensive to expand the BOP’s capacity.

 

Should Congress choose to consider policy options to address the issues resulting from the growth in the federal prison population, policymakers could choose options such as increasing the capacity of the federal prison system by building more prisons, investing in rehabilitative programming, or placing more inmates in private prisons.

 

Policymakers might also consider whether they want to revise some of the policy changes that have been made over the past three decades that have contributed to the steadily increasing number of offenders being incarcerated. For example, Congress could consider options such as (1) modifying mandatory minimum penalties, (2) expanding the use of Residential Reentry Centers, (3) placing more offenders on probation, (4) reinstating parole for federal inmates, (5) expanding the amount of good time credit an inmate can earn, and (6) repealing federal criminal statutes for some offenses.

 

The report includes useful tables and charts, including this one showing the growing per capita cost of housing federal prisoners at various security levels:

 

Earlier this week, The Urban Institute issued a new report, The Growth & Increasing Cost of the Federal Prison System: Drivers and Potential Solutions, which, in terms of the Bureau of Prisons’ unrelenting growth, provides:


BOP has experienced an almost tenfold increase in its population since 1980. In FY 2011, the BOP population increased by 7,541 inmates, and will increase by an estimated 11,500 by the end of FY 2013.

 

Overall, BOP is operating at 39 percent above its rated capacity, with 55 percent crowding at high-security facilities and 51 percent at medium-security facilities. Since FY 2000, the inmate-to-staff ratio has increased from about 4:1 to a projected 5:1 in FY 2013. This degree of crowding threatens the safety of both inmates and correctional officers, and it undermines the ability to provide effective programming.
In terms of cost, the report notes:
Annual costs per inmate are $21,006 for minimum security, $25,378 for low security, $26,247 for medium security, and $33,930 for high security. Average annual costs per inmate housed in community corrections (residential reentry centers and home confinement) for BOP are $25,838. By contrast, the annual cost of supervision by probation officers in the community is about $3,433 per offender.[…]

The President’s FY 2013 budget request for BOP totals $6.9 billion, reflecting an increase of $278 million (4.2 percent) from the FY 2012 enacted budget.[…] The BOP budget for FY 2013 accounts for over 25 percent of the DOJ budget.[…] [I]f present trends continue, the share of the DOJ budget consumed by BOP will grow even further, approaching 30 percent in 2020.

 

In terms of what is driving the BOP’s unending growth, the report observes:

 

[D]rug offenders make up about half of the end-of-year population. The length of sentences – particularly for drug offenders – is an important determinant of the stock population and driver of population growth.

 

In short, this cogent report summarizes what is widely known about problems that continue to plague the federal criminal justice system and offers useful solutions to correct them. The question is whether and when those in Washington will act.

Echoing the Heritage Foundation’s recent work concerning the over-federalization of crime (see here, hereand here), which follows on reports by the ABA’s Task Force on the Federalization of Criminal Law and The Federalist Society, USA Today features a column by Vikrant Reddy, an analyst with the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center of Effective Justice, that takes issue with the appropriateness and impact of perpetually growing federal prosecutions:


The Constitution originally included only three federal crimes: treason, piracy, and counterfeiting. Now, the number of federal crimes is approximately 4,500. From 2000-07, Congress created about 56 new crimes per year.
This is far from the vision of the Founders who wrote in the Federalist Papers that “[t]here is one transcendent advantage belonging to the province of the State governments…the ordinary administration of criminal and civil justice.”
Now, almost anything can be a federal crime.[…] This is to say nothing of the federal government’s role in prosecuting intrastate drug crimes. Justice Antonin Scalia — hardly a soft-on-drugs liberal — has said “[i]t was a great mistake to put routine drug offenses into the federal courts.”
The problems that arise from over-federalization are not just the theoretical preoccupations of law professors concerned with jurisdiction. The policy consequences are real.[…] Although falling crime rates and budget pressures have led states across the country to reduce their prison populations and to use cheaper (and more effective) alternative sanctions, the federal incarceration rate has continued to rise.

 

As discussed hereand here, competing Congressional delegations, along with the House Appropriations Committee, have been engaged in a longstanding struggle over the use of prison-related funds. At the heart of the debate was the purchase of an Illinois state maximum-security prison, the Thomson Correctional Center, that was built in 2001 but never opened (i.e., was never activated or went online). As reported in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere (see hereand here), the Justice Department, at the White House’s direction, has bypassed Capitol Hill and purchased the Thomson facility, a move that has election undertones:


At President Obama’s direction, the Justice Department purchased a never-opened state prison on Tuesday, cutting a $165-million check to cash-strapped Illinois and bypassing the objections of a powerful Republican congressman who had blocked the sale.
“At this point, the president had to intervene and do this directly. I hope people understand he’s doing it for his state,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois’ senior senator and the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat. Durbin acknowledged that it was “rare” to bypass a high-ranking House Appropriations Committee member to proceed with the purchase of Thomson Correctional Center in northwestern Illinois.[…]
Illinois is safely in Obama’s column in next month’s election. But the federal prison at Thomson is expected to draw workers and related business from neighboring Iowa — a swing state where Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are battling.
The prison purchase, Wolf said, “directly violates the clear objection of the House Appropriations Committee and goes against the bipartisan objections of members in the House and Senate, who have noted that approving this request would allow Thomson to take precedence over previously funded prisons in Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Hampshire.”
The political uproar surrounding the move has drawn interest from various blogs that one does not typically associate with prison issues (see hereand here), including Sunlen Miller’s at ABC News:
Citing 38 percent overcrowding rates in federal prisons, Holder says in the letter to Chairman Frank Wolf, R-Va., of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science that no Guantanamo Bay suspects would reside at the desperately needed Thomson facility.
Still, Republicans cast the decision as a unilateral move by the administration, one that Congress has opposed.
“The unilateral decision to purchase the Thomson Prison – even though Congress has repeatedly opposed the Obama administration’s effort to use taxpayer funds to do so – underscores the administration’s desire to move forward and bring these detainees to U.S. soil,” Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday.
The Justice Department will buy the prison from the state of Illinois for $165 million. Holder noted that building a new facility could cost as much as $400 million. The funds for the purchase will be obtained from DOJ seizures in asset-forfeiture cases. The Thomson prison could hold up to 2,800 inmates, according to Justice Department officials.
“The administration is acutely aware of BOP’s need for the facility and the department’s inability to reach a resolution of the matter with you. Under these circumstances, the administration has decided to proceed with the purchase,” AG Holder wrote Tuesday to Rep. Wolf.
“Thomson is still desperately needed to reduce our current high level of overcrowding. And Thomson is specifically needed to house inmates particularly those appropriate for “administrative maximum,” Holder wrote in his letter, making reference to the highest security level in the Bureau of Prisons, “administrative maximum.”
A Government Accountability Office report released in September noted that Bureau of Prisons facilities are severely overcrowded with double- and triple-stacked bunk beds.

As noted, on Wednesday the GAO issued a report concerning federal prison overcrowding and its impact. Yesterday, Michael McLaughlin at The Huffington Post posted a story about the report that offers additional insight into the nature and extent of the problem:


Wardens may see a spike in violence as more inmates are squeezed into tight living quarters, researchers warned. The overcrowding contributes “to increased inmate misconduct, which negatively affects the safety and security of inmates and staff,” according to the report.
“If you start cramming more and more people into a confined space, you’re going to create more tensions and problems,” said the GAO’s Director of Homeland Security and Justice David Mauer (sic). “It creates the possibility that someone’s going to snap and have a violent incident.”[…]
“Some of this sounds small and trivial,” Mauer (sic) told The Huffington Post, “but it adds up.”
Crowded cells and the loss of privacy increase the odds that inmates will lash out, threatening the guards keeping watch.
“Once they get frustrated enough, we’re looking at another riot. And that’s what scares me,” said Dale Deshotel, president of the Council of Prison Locals, which represents about 32,000 federal prison employees.
So far this year, 14 federal prison workers have been assaulted with weapons and another 45 were assaulted by unarmed inmates, according to statistics compiled by the union.
As the prison population boomed, Deshotel said the government in 2005 reduced the average number of guards stationed in prison housing units. “There’s no way that they can monitor that many prisoners,” he said of the guard-to-inmate ratio.
The hazards of overcrowding could eventually ripple outside prison walls. Unless prison budgets grow, inmates will have less access to job training, education and drug treatment programs, which could increase the likelihood that they’ll commit crimes again after their release.
“People will get out of prison, but they’re not being helped to reenter society,” said Inimai Chettiar, a director at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, who has reviewed the report. “People are going to recidivate more when they get out of horrendous conditions without job training and development programs to get their lives back together.”
The rise in the population is attributed to a rise in national crime, tougher sentences for convicted felons, and a lack of parole in the federal system. With more criminals staying in the system for longer periods of time, available space in prisons has dried up, according to David Maurer, a GAO spokesman.
“The problem is going to be that these guys are going to be there for a long time and they’re not building any new prisons for anymore. That’s why crowding continues to become a problem,” Maurer said.

After a day of meetings with incarcerated clients, I returned to my computer to find news of a just issued report from the General Accounting Office, Bureau of Prisons: Growing Inmate Crowding Negatively Affects Inmates, Staff, and Infrastructure. As set forth in the Highlights:


What GAO Found
The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) 9.5 percent population growth from fiscal years 2006 through 2011 exceeded the 7 percent increase in its rated capacity, and BOP projects continued population growth. Growth was most concentrated among male inmates, and in 2011, 48 percent of the inmates BOP housed were sentenced for drugs. From fiscal years 2006 through 2011, BOP increased its rated capacity by about 8,300 beds as a result of opening 5 new facilities and closing 4 minimum security camps, but because of the population expansion, crowding (or population in excess of rated capacity) increased from 36 to 39 percent. In 2011 crowding was most severe (55 percent) in highest security facilities. BOP’s 2020 long-range capacity plan projects continued growth in the federal prison population from fiscal years 2012 through 2020, with system-wide crowding exceeding 45 percent through 2018.
A Triple-Bunked Cell in a BOP Facility
According to BOP, the growth in the federal inmate population has negatively affected inmates, staff, and infrastructure, but BOP has acted within its authority to help mitigate the effects of this growth. BOP officials reported increased use of double and triple bunking, waiting lists for education and drug treatment programs, limited meaningful work opportunities, and increased inmate-to-staff ratios. These factors, taken together, contribute to increased inmate misconduct, which negatively affects the safety and security of inmates and staff. BOP officials and union representatives voiced concerns about a serious incident occurring. To manage its growing population, BOP staggers meal times and segregates inmates involved in disciplinary infractions, among other things.
The five states in GAO’s review have taken more actions than BOP to reduce their prison populations, because these states have legislative authority that BOP does not have. These states have modified criminal statutes and sentencing, relocated inmates to local facilities, and provided inmates with additional opportunities for early release. BOP generally does not have similar authority. For example, BOP cannot shorten an inmate’s sentence or transfer inmates to local prisons. Efforts to address the crowding issue could include (1) reducing the inmate population by actions such as reforming sentencing laws, (2) increasing capacity by actions such as constructing new prisons, or (3) some combination of both.

The United States Sentencing Commission annually accepts public comments concerning its proposed priorities for the upcoming amendment year. Many organizations, such as the Commission’s Practitioners’ Advisory Group, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Federal Public and Community Defenders and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, regularly submit comments. So too does the Department of Justice (DOJ). From the DOJ’s most recent submission comes this:

The question our country faces today is how can we continue to build on our success in combating crime and ensuring the fair and effective administration of justice in a time of limited criminal justice resources at all levels of government? In other words, how will the country ensure sufficient investments in public safety, and how will those involved in crime policy ensure that every dollar invested in public safety is spent in the most productive way possible?

 

With declining public safety budgets, our ability to increase the productivity of public safety spending of all kinds will largely determine whether we build on the reductions in crime we’ve experienced over the last twenty years or whether we see setbacks. Our federal, state, and local governments are making decisions now that could have significant effects on the nation’s justice system for years to come.

 

These budgetary dynamics have serious ramifications for the federal criminal justice system and in particular for the federal sentencing and corrections system. Our goals for federal sentencing and corrections policy have been quite clear for the last several years. As Attorney General Holder has said, we must “create a sentencing and corrections system that protects the public, is fair to both victims and defendants, eliminates unwarranted sentencing disparities, reduces recidivism, and controls the federal prison population.” With these goals as our guide, we believe that federal sentencing and corrections policy today faces serious challenges, especially around the need to control federal prison spending. We must ensure that our federal sentencing and corrections system is strong but smart; credible, productive and just; and budgetarily sound.

 

Our budget outlook demands a more exacting accounting and deployment of federal criminal justice resources, including federal sentencing and corrections resources. The federal prison system is a product of federal sentencing in its size and scope. And as we said in our report to the Commission last year, prisons are essential for public safety. But maximizing public safety can be achieved without maximizing prison spending. In an era of governmental austerity, maximizing public safety can only be achieved by finding a proper balance of outlays that allows, on the one hand, for sufficient numbers of police, investigative agents, prosecutors and judicial personnel to investigate, apprehend, prosecute and adjudicate those who commit federal crimes, and on the other hand, a sentencing policy that achieves public safety correctional goals and justice for victims, the community, and the offender. The federal prison population – and prison expenditures —have been increasing for years. In this period of austerity, these increases are incompatible with a balanced crime policy and are unsustainable.

 

Given the budgetary environment, the current trajectory of corrections spending will lead to further imbalances in the deployment of justice resources. While this is a long-term problem that requires a systemic solution, there are also immediate concerns. The Bureau of Prisons is currently operating at 38% over rated capacity. This is of special concern at the prisons housing the most serious offenders, with 53% crowding at high-security facilities and 49% at medium security facilities. This level of crowding puts correctional officers and inmates alike at greater risk of harm and makes recidivism reduction far more difficult. And as we indicated last year, the Department’s Inspector General indicated that the Bureau of Prisons must contend not only with a growing inmate population, but also with aging facilities, higher inmate-to-staff ratios, and many other challenges, including the need to provide jobs and training programs for inmates while they are incarcerated.[...]

 

There can be little doubt that the criminal justice investments and reforms of the 1960s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s — including the SRA — achieved remarkable results over the last two decades. Dramatically lower crime rates have meant tens of millions fewer victims of crime, a fact that is too often overlooked in the discussion about sentencing and corrections policy. However, this achievement came at a high economic and human price, including the incarceration of over two million Americans. Today, we face real criminal justice challenges, especially around decreasing investments in public safety. We must work together to find solutions to these challenges and forge policies that will continue to increase public safety while reducing the costs to our country and our citizens.

DOJ acknowledgment of the impact of “tough on crime” sentencing policy and the propriety of reducing corrections spending is encouraging. More so is an NPR report that in a speech to “the National District Attorneys Association, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer called on Congress to pass two proposals that would speed up the release dates for well-behaved inmates. The first plan would allow prisoners who take part in educational programs proven to reduce recidivism rates to earn up to two months a year in extra credit toward the completion of their sentence. The second would allow prisoners to collect an extra seven days a year of good time credit, from the current 47 days to a new ceiling of 54 days,” thereby permitting revision of the BOP’s application of 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(which the Supreme Court affirmed in Barber v. Thomas, 130 S.Ct. 2499 (2010)). Breuer added: “A criminal justice system that spends disproportionately on prisons, at the expense of policing, prosecutions, and recidivism-reducing programs, is unlikely to be maximizing public safety[.]” The full text of Breuer’s prepared remarks can be found here.

The federal prison population has increased “from 24,252 in 1980” to more than 217,000 today, making the Bureau of Prisons the nation’s largest correctional system. Of course, more prisoners means more prisons. The BOP operates 117 institutions and anticipates activating two more in the next year: the secure female facility in Aliceville, AL and FCI Berlin, NH. As highlighted by a New Hampshire Union Leader articleconcerning a job fair held yesterday for the Berlin facility, prisons have sadly become economic engines for some local economies:

The Federal Bureau of Prisons job fair at New Hampshire Employment Security in Berlin drew more than 50 interested job seekers from all over New Hampshire.
‘This crowd made us happy,’ said Diana Nelson, employer services representative for New Hampshire Employment Security. ‘I don’t think any of us expected this. I think people want to talk to real, live people from the talent team and the Bureau of Prisons.’[…]
Nelson said the prison has 86 staff members on site now — or about 40 percent of the total needed. Roughly 200 positions are unfilled, with a little less than half that number being correction officer positions.
With the BOP operating at 38 percent over rated capacity and with population growth projected to outpace bed space, the addition of these two institutions will do little to alleviate pressures. That is why the activation process has started at two other prisons: USP Yazoo City, MS and FCI Hazelton, WV.
The economic benefit that prisons provide the communities in which they are situated also helps inform Congressional infightingover delays in the BOP’s purchase of the shuttered Thomson Correctional Center, a former Illinois state maximum-security prison:
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) last week said that members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation should stop making excuses and start increasing pressure on Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) – the only person standing in the way of the federal government’s purchase of the prison.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. and Deputy Attorney General James Cole, Durbin wrote: ‘Some in the Illinois Congressional Delegation continue to look for excuses such as [the issue of detainees] to take the pressure off of Mr. Wolf and to suggest that the Obama Administration is somehow to blame for the delay. Simply put, the State of Illinois and the Bureau of Prisons have agreed on a price and a process for purchase, the federal funds have been identified, and the issue of detainees has been settled. The only hold up is the signature of Congressman Wolf on a standard reprogramming request. Any suggestion of other outstanding issues is inaccurate.’[…]
The sale of Thomson enjoys bipartisan support from members of the Illinois and Iowa Congressional Delegations as well as broad-based local and state support. Sale of the facility will lead to significant job creation, more than 1,100 jobs, and inject at least $1 billion into the region’s economy.
Lest there be any doubt of the strong financial incentives that underlie the imprisonment industry, one need look no further than a recent proposal from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a for-profit concern:
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.
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.’

CCA contracts with the BOP to manageand expand institutions. When announcing its expansion and management of CI McCrae, GA, in October 2011, CCA offered:
Under the new contract CCA will have the ability to house up to 2,275 male inmates for the BOP after completing a 454-bed expansion of the McRae facility.
The contract, awarded as part of the Criminal Alien Requirement XII Solicitation (‘CAR 12’), becomes effective December 1, 2012, and has an initial four-year term with three two-year renewal options or up to 10 years if all renewal options are executed. Under the new CAR 12 contract, following a 90-day ramp period for the incremental population, CCA will receive a fixed monthly payment based on a guaranteed population equal to 90% of the expanded rated capacity and a per diem payment for each additional inmate thereafter. Under the provisions of the award, the Company could earn revenues of up to approximately $152.0 million during the initial four-year term of the contract, or up to $401.0 million if all renewal options are executed.
Former Bureau of Prisons Director Harley Lappin joined CCA as its Chief Corrections Officer on June 1, 2011, less than one month after retiring from the agency.