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Open Letter to the Corrections Corporation of America after 30 Years of Locking People Up for Profit

Vanita Gupta,
Center for Justice
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May 16, 2013

What do I have to say to the Corrections Corporation of America?

After 30 years, CCA should be ashamed.

For thirty years, CCA’s profits have grown because more people are behind bars. For CCA, the fact that America incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world isn’t a human tragedy – it’s something they celebrate, because it makes them rich.

When CCA’s shareholders hold their annual meeting today in Nashville, I hope they will remember that the cost of their riches is thirty years of human rights abuses, escapes, violence, understaffing, and preventable deaths in CCA’s prisons. In Mississippi alone, CCA has had two deadly prison riots in the past twelve months. And in Idaho, CCA recently admitted that their officers falsified nearly 5,000 hours of time records, billing the state for security posts that they left unfilled. After 30 years of this, you should be ashamed.

CCA is not just the first for-profit prison company in modern America – it is also the biggest, raking in a staggering $1.7 billion a year. Since CCA started out, this country has seen massive increases in overall incarceration rates. From 1970 to 2005, the U.S. prison population increased by approximately 700%. Mass incarceration has allowed CCA to profit. But for the rest of us it has broken state budgets, torn families and communities apart, and failed to promote public safety in any significant way.

On an average day, CCA locks 81,384 people in their prisons and jails. In statements for their shareholders, CCA refers to these human beings as a “revenue stream” or a “unique investment opportunity.”

Many of these people are immigrants detained by the federal government – nearly half of whom are detained in for-profit prisons. While CCA may be profiting off of this, they are failing to adequately manage these prisons. Just this month, two immigration detainees committed suicide within days of each other at Eloy Detention Center, which CCA runs. Before that, according to public records the ACLU obtained in 2009, Eloy had nine known fatalities — more than any other immigration jail under contract to the federal government.

Thirty years of profiting off mass incarceration is nothing to celebrate.

Fed up with 30 years of CCA banking on human bondage? Join today’s protest of CCA’s annual shareholder meeting in Nashville, TN and upload a video to the YouTube channel telling CCA they have nothing to celebrate.

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