Don’t Let Private Corporations Profit from Prisons

Target: U.S. Government

Goal: End the exploitative practice of incarcerating people for profit

With the economy being a cause for concern over the past few years, states have been looking for ways to cut costs. Companies like the Corrections Corp of America and GEO have provided one way for cash-strapped states to save money by agreeing to buy and manage their prisons. States who have agreed to the offer must maintain a 90% occupancy rate in the privately run prisons for twenty years. This means that a decrease in crime equates to a decrease in funding, causing states to lock people up for petty crimes in order to keep their coffers full. The U.S. Government needs to remember that it exists to serve the people. Instead of allowing the incarceration of citizens to be a profitable business, it should use tax dollars to rehabilitate, train and educate those in prison.

Despite declines in violent crime, the U.S. prison population has tripled since 1980. Clearly America’s prison system isn’t helping to solve the problem of crime. What it is doing is amassing profits for corporations–around $70 billion to be exact. The amount of funding a private prison receives depends on how little they spend on prisons and prisoners. While many would say that those guilty of crimes should not have expensive luxuries like televisions and video games while incarcerated, most would say that programs designed to help prisoners stay out of prison would be money well spent. However, fewer prisoners mean less profit for corporations. So for those who stand to profit off crime, there is no incentive to reduce crime and millions of citizens are suffering as a result.

The practice of running prisons for profit has already been found to be a potentially corruptive practice. In 2009, the Mid Atlantic Youth Service Corporation was exposed for paying two judges to lock up juveniles for petty crimes like trespassing on vacant lots and stealing DVDs. The judges made $2.6 million before being caught. There is no doubt that this is happening or will happen elsewhere. The potential profitability of incarcerating people is also more than likely a large reason why marijuana possession remains a criminal offense in many states. With an average of one marijuana arrest happening every 42 seconds in the U.S. it’s no wonder so many politicians are reluctant to legalize the plant. Decriminalizing marijuana possession would result in lost revenue for prison corporations.

When committing a crime can provide billion-dollar profits for private corporations, it stands to reason that not only is a decrease in crime undesirable for investors, but an increase in crime may possibly even be encouraged. Tell the U.S. Government to take responsibility for the people it represents and to use our tax dollars to create a healthier society. This means helping those guilty of committing a crime, not profiting off of them.


Dear U.S. Government,

The government exists to serve the people, which is why it is funded by the people. Taxes are paid to promote the health and well-being of the general public. This includes helping those who are guilty of committing crimes by offering them rehabilitation, training and education services so they can be empowered, contributing members to society. People who commit crimes do not need to be used as a means for private businesses to make a profit.

The practice of profiting off of prisoners discourages a decrease in crime and encourages law enforcement officials to lock more people up for petty offenses. It also opens up possibilities for corruption, as was already the case with the Mid Atlantic Youth Service Corporation.

The purpose of the prison system should be to help reduce and discourage crime. But as long as prison corporations are profiting off of large prison populations, there will continue to be no incentive for prisons to encourage inmates’ release. We urge you to stop allowing private corporations to profit off prisoners.


[Your Name Here]

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