It is widely know that immigrant detention has been central to the growth of the “privates prisons” for more than two decades. The former Immigration and Naturalization Service’s (INS) 1983 decision to outsource immigrant detention to the newly established Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) gave birth to the private-prison industry. Now, the two largest prison giants in the world, The CCA and GEO, have made explosive profits since getting into they entered the private prison business in the 1980’s.
Despite popular folklore, immigration detention has leveled off since the 1990’s. We don’t have a mass exodus of “wetbacks” flooding into the United States as our society erroneously wants to believe. That is a fat myth brought on by hysterical politicians spewing this propaganda in order to get laws passed that will benefit lobbyists’ interests and fatten the wallets of private and state run prison corporations. Consider it a bailout of sorts for the prison system, though they are not hurting in the least with their profit margins!
This is how the prison scheme works. The federal government makes excessive demands for immigrant prison beds. This gets private and state run prisons out of hot water for building too many prisons and having too many empty prison beds (which costs taxpayers and/or the government). By paying for these prison beds the weren’t actually needed, taxpayers shelled out $1.6 billion in annual revenue in the past eight years to prison giant CCA, and another whopping $1.1 billion in annual revenue to prison giant GEO Group. That’s right. Even as our economy has gone down the toilet, recession is hitting everyone, all eyes are on Wall Street, and unemployment is at a record 10%, prison corporations are making a fat monetary killing off of us taxpayers! Their greed is just as bad as Wall Street- but instead of your home being ripped away from you, your freedom is robbed instead.
These greedy prison corporations have a slogan, “if you build a prison the prisoners will come.” And who will they put in those prisons? The poor, the mentally ill, the disabled, the immigrant without access to lawyers, documentation, and necessary social support and resources! The prison corporations don’t lose profits when the inmate flow declines or stops for a time because the revenue is a set or fixed fee. Local governments oversee these prisons, no matter who runs them, yet oversight on their finances is rare.
Prison contracts contain ‘take or pay’ clauses that guarantee a certain amount of revenue regardless of occupancy rates, as well as periodic rate increases. All of the contracts are renewed at a rate of almost 95 percent, regardless of how the finance books are kept, how the money is spent, and if a profit is made- legally or otherwise.
In the Boston Review, the inner workings of profits are explained as followed:
“County governments see a new revenue stream from the federal per diem-usually a mere $1-2 a day per inmate (while the bondholders or owners of the prisons get at least $87/day), depending on the terms of the agreement with the prison operator-but only after the bondholders and private operator have been paid. The privates receive hefty operating fees (normally $500,000-$750,000 a month) and salaries for their administrative team of wardens and assistants, while assuming none of the capital, operating, or maintenance costs. Because the prisons are public facilities, communities receive no property or sales tax revenue (from construction and maintenance) but are expected to provide the water and sewage services.”
Stories of towns across America, in Arizona too, lose millions of dollars in revenue bonds, while the profits from these prisons go to corporations that own the prisons. You may see a local town have an average income per household of a mere $10,000 a year, but the prison that looms in their midst exploits them of billions each year in revenue for the greedy corporations running them!
There is no guarantee that these alleged immigrants will have proper proceedings, as there is no set time limit on detaining them (just reflect on Guantanamo Bay as a reference!). They will unlikely see a lawyer, and if they do, the lawyer will exploit them of a lot of money too, likely from the taxpayers wallets. It is estimated that three out of four immigrants are left on their own to navigate the judicial system, despite not even knowing English!
Do you want to know where jobs will come from in President Obama’s job creation reforms? It will come from running these prisons! It will come from building more prisons too, much to Haliburtons delight. This is one rich source of job creation that can’t be outsourced to another country!
Back to propaganda, did you know that at least 93% of detained immigrants show up for court? Try getting American citizens to do the same. If immigrants were released and allowed to work and such until their court date, it would cost taxpayers $12 a day. However, if they detained these individuals, nationwide prison networks would make from taxpayers an estimated $95 per day- or eight times as much! You can see why they fill up their prison with a bunch of little brown people, make laws to punish little brown people, and throw away the key!
In fairness, or to play devil’s advocate, I don’t quite buy the hype that Mexicans or any other immigrant nationality are just going to be scooped up like wayward animal strays and be thrown into prison. There is quite a bit of misunderstanding and hysteria on the part of Mexican-Americans. I also don’t think this law was targeting Mexicans specifically. While it is true that a bulk of immigrants imprisoned will be “wetbacks”, I sincerely believe that the prime motivation for this law was to gain access to more profit from the government and the prison giants. In order to gain social popularity for this law, the government had to infiltrate all American’s predisposed hysteria and racist beliefs that we are in a great recession, on the verge of a Depression, have a high unemployment rate, and a drug/crime rate spiraling out of control all because of immigrants flowing into the country like fleas on a dog. Not so! We are in this mess because we didn’t save our money. We bought to big of a house, we lived beyond our means, we relied on the government to help us out, and we thought our jobs were secure. Pointing blame at a bunch of brown people is cowardly and ignorant. It is also opening up America to further social, economic, and physical plight, as the world is watching how we treat others in general. No one is better than another because of skin color, what they wear on their head, or who they pray to.
Don’t get me wrong. We need tough immigration laws. We need to keep foreigners from taking advantage of our fragile economic state. I don’t want a bunch of beheaded people showing up all over the Border States (I live in one of them) either. I don’t want drugs filling up in this country too. But, crime and drugs won’t stop with this or any other law. There needs to be boundaries, both literally and figuratively speaking. But throwing a bunch of immigrants (notice I don’t specify what kind) into prison to fatten a corporation’s wallet only degrades us to the level we judge or accuse immigrants of being at (i.e. they are taking advantage of us through welfare, education, etc.).