Equal Opportunity For All
End Mass Incarceration
Policy Library

End Lock-Up Profiteering

Over 100,000 Americans are incarcerated in for-profit prisons at the state level, and the majority of migrants entering the United States are also held in for-profit detention facilities. The for-profit lock-up industry gets billions in taxpayer dollars and spends millions lobbying to lock up more people and get away with terrible, dangerous conditions, including for kids. States can save money, increase public safety and fight political corruption by shutting these facilities down, so the only motives for incarceration are justice and safety, not profit.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

Illinois, Iowa, New York

In The News

“The companies that build and run private prisons have a financial interest in the continued growth of mass incarceration. That is why the two major players in this game … invest heavily in lobbying for punitive criminal justice policies and make hefty contributions to political campaigns that will increase reliance on prisons.”
“A court-ordered investigation … revealed ‘inhumane’ conditions in a prison south of Boise, where terminally ill inmates were left for periods of time without food or water and slept in soiled linens. ‘How does this for-profit prison healthcare company keep its costs low and profits high?’...‘By failing to provide sick prisoners with needed care.'”
“The American government spends more on immigrant detention today than it did 10 years ago, when the number of border crossings was higher. The Corrections Corporation of America and other companies have lobbied politicians to keep more people behind bars rather than deporting them.”

Partners

  • Human rights advocates
  • Criminal justice advocates
  • Taxpayers

Opposition

  • For-profit prison companies
  • Lobbyists who are trying to increase lock-ups to get state dollars
Call us for real-time support using this library, problem-solving tips, and follow-up from our team of national experts:
The State Line
1-833-
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FAQ

Is this high cost to the state?
No. Evidence shows that private facilities cost more than government facilities but are less safe and effective, even before calculating the cost to lock more folks up to line the pockets of prison profiteers with taxpayer dollars.
Who does this help?
This policy helps everyone by better directing public funds toward safe and effective criminal justice policies and away from for-profit facilities known to be less safe and effective.
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Model Policy

SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the End Private Prisons and Detention Centers Act.

SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
This act provides that STATE, any unit of local government, or a county sheriff, shall not contract with a private contractor or private vendor for the provision of services relating to correctional supervision.

SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the management and operation of any detention facility involves functions that are inherently governmental. Detention requires the exercise of coercive police powers over individuals that should not be delegated to the private sector and is distinguishable from privatization in other areas of government. It is further found that issues of liability, accountability, and cost warrant a prohibition of the ownership, operation, or management of detention facilities by private contractors within the State to the fullest extent permitted under State law.

(b) Definitions. "Detention facility" means any building, facility, or structure used to detain individuals, not including State work release centers or juvenile or adult residential treatment facilities.

(c) Neither the State, nor any unit of local government, any county sheriff, or any agency, officer, employee, or agent thereof, shall:
  • (i) enter into an agreement of any kind for the detention of individuals in a detention facility owned, managed, or operated, in whole or in part, by a private entity;
  • (ii) pay, reimburse, subsidize, or defray in any way any costs related to the sale, purchase, construction, development, ownership, management, or operation of a detention facility that is or will be owned, managed, or operated, in whole or in part, by a private entity;
  • (iii) receive per diem, per detainee, or any other payment related to the detention of individuals in a detention facility owned, managed, or operated, in whole or in part, by a private entity; or
  • (iv) otherwise give any financial incentive or benefit to any private entity or person in connection with the sale, purchase, construction, development, ownership, management, or operation of a detention facility that is or will be owned, managed, or operated, in whole or in part, by a private entity.

(d) This Act does not prohibit the State, a unit of local government, or any sheriff that owns, manages, or operates a detention facility from contracting with a private entity or person to provide ancillary services in that facility, such as, medical services, food service, educational services, or facility repair and maintenance.

(e) In case of any conflict between this Act and any other law, this Act shall control.

(f) In the event that a court of competent jurisdiction finds any term or provision in this Act to be invalid or unenforceable, the same will not have an impact on other terms or provisions in the Act. If it is possible, any unenforceable or invalid provision in this Act shall be modified to show the original intention of the Legislature.

(g) This Act shall take effect upon becoming law.