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.