Private prisons and detention centres are booming businesses (hello Serco). Crisis, real or otherwise, are exploited by corporations who come in to supposedly save the day (cut costs, increase efficiency etc).
The reality, explained in this piece on Alternet about the US, is rather different:
In a recently published report, “Banking on Bondage: Mass Incarceration and Private Prisons,” the American Civil Liberties Union examines the history of prison privatization and finds that private prison companies owe their continued and prosperous existence to skyrocketing immigration detention post September 11 as well as the firm hold they have gained over elected and appointed officials.
David Shapiro, the primary author of the ACLU report, told AlterNet that prior to the early 1980s, private prisons were “virtually nonexistent.” That quickly changed as the War on Drugs ‘tough on crime’ mentality swept the nation with institution of draconian sentencing and release laws for nonviolent offenders, causing an explosion in US incarceration rate. State and federal governments increasingly struggled with overcrowded prisons and the rising costs of housing the rapidly growing pool of inmates.
Coupled with the emergence of privatization madness under Ronald Reagan (a pattern that has continued under both Democrat and Republican administrations), skyrocketing imprisonment presented the perfect opportunity for the private sector to get in on the action, with promises of cost savings and more efficient operations than government-run facilities. In 1984, the Corrections Corporation of America was awarded a contract to operate a public jail in Hamilton County, Tennessee, and the nation’s first-ever private prison was born.
According to the ACLU report, From 1970 to 2005, the number of people locked up in the US shot up by 700 percent. Meanwhile, between 1990 and 2009 the number of prisoners behind private prison bars exploded from 7,000 to 129,000 inmates, a growth rate of 1600 percent. But the private prison boom of the ‘90s did not last.
According to the ACLU report, heightened immigration enforcement following the 2001 terrorist attacks were largely responsible for resurrecting the private prison boom…