Building prisons is something US is very good at and getting better
Especially now that corporations can ignore pesky bidding procedures and just get no-bid contracts to become wealthy with taxpayer money handed over by irresponsible government agencies. Check this story by Chico Harlan in the Washington Post:
As Central Americans surged across the U.S. border two years ago, the Obama administration skipped the standard public bidding process and agreed to a deal that offered generous terms to Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison company, to build a massive detention facility for women and children seeking asylum.
The four-year, $1 billion contract — details of which have not been previously disclosed — has been a boon for CCA, which, in an unusual arrangement, gets the money regardless of how many people are detained at the facility. Critics say the government’s policy has been expensive but ineffective. Arrivals of Central American families at the border have continued unabated while court rulings have forced the administration to step back from its original approach to the border surge.
In hundreds of other detention contracts given out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, federal payouts rise and fall in step with the percentage of beds being occupied. But in this case, CCA is paid for 100 percent capacity even if the facility is, say, half full, as it has been in recent months. An ICE spokeswoman, Jennifer Elzea, said that the contracts for the 2,400-bed facility in Dilley and one for a 532-bed family detention center in Karnes City, Tex., given to another company, are “unique” in their payment structures because they provide “a fixed monthly fee for use of the entire facility regardless of the number of residents.”
The rewards for CCA have been enormous: In 2015, the first full year in which the South Texas Family Residential Center was operating, CCA — which operates 74 facilities — made 14 percent of its revenue from that one center while recording record profit. CCA declined to specify the costs of operating the center.
“For the most part, what I see is a very expensive incarceration scheme,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House’s Immigration and Border Security subcommittee. “It’s costly to the taxpayers and achieves almost nothing, other than trauma to already traumatized individuals.”
The Washington Post based this account on financial documents — including copies of the agreements spelling out the Dilley deal obtained from the National Immigrant Justice Center — and interviews with government lawyers and former immigration and homeland security officials.
CCA’s chief executive, Damon Hininger, told investors in an earnings call this month that ICE recently has begun pushing for a more “cost-effective solution.” Those discussions, he said, are in the “preliminary stage.”
The facility in Dilley — built in the middle of sunbaked scrubland, in what used to be a camp for oil workers — now holds the majority of the country’s mother-and-child detainees. Such asylum seekers, until two years ago, had rarely been held in detention. They instead settled in whatever town they chose, told to eventually appear in court. . .
Great boon to the prison industry, which is extremely big in the US, which is a prison nation.While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners, much more per capita than any other nation. See this chart for more information. The US has 698 prisoners per 100,000 in population, and North Korea follows at 607. Take a look at the chart, which you can sort on number of prisoners per 100,000. (Canada is 106, England and Wales combined total 148, France is 100, Germany is 78—these countries are not even in the same league as the US, which locks people up like nobody’s business, regardless of expense to the taxpayers.)