Reforming our Prison Systems
Private prison companies across the state have a long history of serious problems, including medical negligence, sexual and physical abuse, violent riots, and deaths. When a government privatizes a service, the obvious goal is to save money and "maintain" the same level of service. This is not what happening in Georgia's private corrections companies like CoreCivic (formerly CCA) and the GEO Group which operate throughout the state.
Private corrections companies are designed to be profit-driven - they are corporations that trade publicly on the stock market. They have goals like any other business, such as maximize profits, cut costs, and find ways to keep growing. These private contracts provide a certain amount of taxpayer money from the government for each individual in their facility and in turn, companies make more money for each bed that is full. As we could imagine, where human welfare is involved, this becomes a problem.
Private facilities also often use prison labor to generate revenue and provide little to no wages. The Georgia correctional system does not guarantee any compensation for prison labor, and the minimum wage for prison labor is $0/ hour. Yes, Zero. We need to address the lack of fair wages in state facilities.
In this context, it means private companies are winning these contracts for slave labor provided by the state.
Another reality of these companies is that correctional officer employees are not paid well and are often insufficiently qualified and trained, yet they are in control of and responsible for dozens if not hundreds of lives, on a daily basis. Officers pay is not decided by the government within private prisons, and many make hourly pay and do not receive the benefits of having a "government job".
Private Prisons do not benefit by helping people rehabilitate and get out faster. They do not benefit from people never returning to prison. However, they do benefit every time someone’s sentence is extended or when someone is re-incarcerated, incentivizing everyone down to deputies to arrest individuals.
A cruel economy of scale is at play – more prisoners means greater efficiency which turns into even more profit for the stockholders. People literally become profit.
Our prison systems should never profit from keeping people in jail. Monetary gain should never be tied to incarceration or unpaid labor. The last time it was, we had a civil war over it.
We should seek the shrinking of the system of private prisons and our state’s corrections population, not its expansion.