The disparity between public interest and private profits is emphasized April 3rd at the Open Secrets blog. The post describes how the 2,800-inmate detention facility in Willacy, Texas, operating under contract for the Management and Training Corporation, had to close down this year. Why? Undocumented immigrants detained there rioted over “crowding, overflowing toilets, insufficient medical care and maggots in their food.” Not only did the immigrants suffer terribly from prison conditions, but Willacy County lost hundreds of jobs when the prison closed down after the riots. And the county is on the hook for the bonds issued to construct the prison. The county should never have opened the prison, but the suffering for the laid-off prison workers is real. Poor communities across the country have been getting the hard sell from the corrections industry to build prisons. It’s hard for them to resist the lure of the jobs that prison corporations promise. Thus poor immigrants are pitted against poor workers.
Meanwhile, the only player truly benefitting from this inhumane system is the private prison industry. According to the blog post, Management and Training Corporation is one of the big three in private corrections, along with Corrections Corporation of American and the GEO Group. Open Secrets says that these three companies spent $2 million on Congressional lobbying in 2014. And individuals associated with them contributed over half a million dollars to Congressional candidates last year. Their money distorts public policy to benefit their own profits.
The Open Secrets post was written by Jared Celniker and Clark Mindock.