This is totally bizarre and should be unbelievable: about 1% (1 in 100) of the US population is in prison at any given time these days … and a growing number of prisons have contracts with state governments guaranteeing them occupancy rates as high as 100%. When inmate populations drop below the contracted rate, private prison contractors get their money by threatening to sue. Huffpost explains:
Arizona’s contractually obligated promise to fill prison beds is a common provision in a majority of America’s private prison contracts, according to a public records analysis released today by the advocacy group In the Public Interest. The group reviewed more than 60 contracts between private prison companies and state and local governments across the country, and found language mentioning quotas for prisoners in nearly two-thirds of those analyzed.
The prison bed guarantees range between minimums of 70 percent occupancy in a California prison to 100 percent occupancy requirements at some Arizona prisons. Most of the contracts had language mandating that at least 90 percent of prison beds be filled.
There are ways to handle social problems that have proved less costly and more effective. Keep in mind:
- American taxpayer dollars are funding this societal aberration.
- Due both to its criminal sentencing guidelines and the way prisons are run, Sweden has closed several prisons since 2011 – for lack of prisoners
- Around the year 2000, Portugal decriminalized drugs, made them a health concern rather than a law enforcement issue and offered a robust drug treatment program. Since then, drug use has dramatically dropped.