Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is a company that owns and manages private prisons and detention centers and operates others on a concession basis. Co-founded by Republican Party leader Thomas W. Beasley, Doctor Robert Crants and T. Don Hutto in 1983, it received initial investments from Hospital Corporation of America’s founder Jack C. Massey, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Vanderbilt University.
As of 2015, the company is the largest private corrections company in the United States and manages more than 65 correctional and detention facilities with a capacity of more than 90,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The company’s revenue in 2012 exceeded more than $1.7 billion.
Controversies involving the company include: treatment of inmates and disclosure of oversight, lobbying efforts to conceal details of operations, a lawsuit about gang influence in Idaho prison and substantial falsification of records, co-operation with local law enforcement in a school drug sweep, and the deadly 2012 riot in a Mississippi facility.
Founded in 1983, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) owns or operates jails and prisons on contract with federal, state and local governments. CCA designs, builds, manages and operates correctional facilities and detention centers for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Marshals Service, as well as facilities across the United States.
CCA houses approximately 90,000 offenders and detainees in its more than 60 facilities and employs more than 17,000 nationwide.
The American Correctional Association (ACA) has accredited 90% of CCA’s facilities. ACA’s Accreditation is a system of verification that correctional agencies and facilities comply with national standards promulgated by the American Correctional Association. Accreditation is achieved through a series of reviews, evaluations, audits and hearings.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “Between 1970 and 2005, the number of people incarcerated in the United States grew by 700 percent. Today, the United States incarcerates approximately 2.3 million people.”
The private prison population has also been exploding. From the ACLU:
Even compared to this breathtaking rate of overall growth in incarceration, the rate of expansion of for-profit imprisonment far outpaced the field, accounting for a disproportionate increase in the number of people locked up. In 1980, private adult prisons did not exist on American soil, but by 1990 private prison companies had established a firm foothold, boasting 67 for-profit facilities and an average daily population of roughly 7,000 prisoners. During the next twenty years (from 1990 to 2009) the number of people incarcerated in private prisons increased by more than 1600%, growing from approximately 7,000 to approximately 129,000 inmates.
The largest private prison company, CCA, realized that this was going to be a lucrative market and decided to take their marketing and private takeover strategy one step further. In January of this year, they sent a letter to 48 states, many of them strapped for cash, and offered to buy the state prisons and enter a 20-year-plus contract with the states to house their prisoners. This was done under the persistent ruse that private prisons can be run cheaper than state prisons, even though most of the studies prove otherwise.
CCA has a $250 million fund ready to buy prisons from desperate or conservative states who are trying to find anything in the short term to ease their cash flow or privatize as much of the state’s functions as possible before the next election.