In August 2014, the President and CEO of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) announced the company’s intention to extensively expand into providing halfway houses and other residential reentry facilities/programs for inmates transitioning from imprisonment to release. The announcement brought applause from his immediate audience but alarm from civil rights advocates.
CCA is the largest for-profit prison company in America. Incorporated by 3 businessmen in 1983, CCA readily expanded to currently operate 65+ facilities with 90,000+ inmate beds for approximately 20 states, employing 17,000+ and garnering yearly revenues of $1.7+ Billion.
Its approach to reentry facilities/programs is also ambitious. The company acquired Correctional Alternatives, Inc., a San Diego-based residential reentry and work furlough company serving the Federal Bureau of Prisons and San Diego County, CA. From that relatively small beginning, CCA announced its intention to provide “consistency and common standards,” quickly make arrangements with a number of agencies “as needed” and grow rapidly. According to CCA’s President and CEO, the corporation’s plans for residential reentry and lessening “recidivism” (former prisoners’ relapse into and arrest/imprisonment for criminal behavior) are “100% aligned with our business model.”
Many are wary of CCA’s intentions because the company is impressive but also notorious. CCA has been the subject of ACLU lawsuits and/or FBI investigations and/or inmate unrest due to understaffing, records falsification & overbilling; lack of running water for toilets, poor inmate treatment, lobbying, prison gang influence and so on, all to cut costs while raising revenues for its corporate coffers.
The ACLU, in particular, is quite vocal about CCA’s inability or unwillingness to provide the support, psychological assistance, educational services and substance abuse treatment needed for successful transition from imprisonment to freedom. According to the ACLU, CCA’s “history of abuse, neglect and mismanagement” and the company’s aggressive fight to “shield its operations from public scrutiny” indicate bad intent. Rather than assisting prisoners and society, CCA plans a lucrative “Walmartrification” of reentry through a “bigger, faster, cheaper” approach that will enrich CCA but fail America.
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