“The Rise of Private Prisons”

Allana Dedmon, Staff Writer

In past years, the amount of private prisons in the U.S. had been slowly decreasing, leading many to believe that the use of these types of correctional facilities would eventually become obsolete. However, as of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election, for-profit prisons are now becoming even more prominent, especially in Southern states.

Private prisons, also known as “for-profit prisons”, are places in which criminals and felons are incarcerated by third party companies contracted by specific government agencies. The problem with these types of facilities is that because they are operated by individual private companies, the care and control of the inmates living in the prison are not given much focus. Instead, the attention is shifted to how profitable the prison is for the company, and how the company can obtain more prisons. Also, unlike a federal or state prison, outside agencies and public companies cannot affect how the private company runs the prison.

Many of these types of correctional facilities have been either banned or have had moratoriums (temporary bans) put in place. However, since the beginning of Donald Trump’s campaign, there have been reports that stock prices for CoreCivic and Geo Group (up and coming private prison companies) have soared. So with attorney general, Jeff Sessions, having overturned the ban on private prisons, the growth rate for private prison use is rising.

Just in the past year, there have already been four deaths in the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, and there is still one inmate in the intensive care unit. In the previous year, there had been 78 injured inmates in that same facility, and liberty unions have continuously reported out of control conditions at the prison. However, there are no plans for anything to be changed. This prison is well-known for it’s reputation of having ongoing and worsening conditions, especially with the lack of guards, but because it is privately owned, it has been seemingly impossible to ensure that the options for change will ever be considered. Eldon Vail, former state prisons chief in Washington State, has even commented on the problems of this prison saying, “There are not a sufficient number of correctional officers, and most of their problems stem from that issue,”.

Many of the for-profit prisons in the U.S. have had reoccurring issues with understaffing and lack of security, but with the Trump administration believing the population of these types of prisons should increase, the likelihood of their success is beginning to look more promising.