Donald Trump campaigned on law and order, which for decades has meant more incarceration and stronger police. Donald Trump’s rhetoric surrounding stop and frisk, crime in general, and the war on drugs, all suggest Trump isn’t using the phrase much differently than his predecessors. And private prison companies definitely aren’t reading anything different into his rhetoric.
In fact, the election of Donald Trump has ushered in a new age of prosperity for private prisons. Corporations like the rebranded Corrections Corporation of America, now known as CoreCivic, experienced a steady decline in stock price. Thanks largely to bad publicity and souring public perceptions regarding private prisons. In fact the stock had steadily decline for months running up to election day, but that trend was sharply reversed with the election of Donald Trump.
In fact, CoreCivic’s stock doubled overnight the night Donald Trump was elected president.
Whether or not Donald Trump’s policies yield higher incarceration rates, it’s clear the companies poised to profit if they do, believe they will. On top of that there is evidence that companies like CoreCivic hope to directly profit from Donald Trump’s policies. Particularly his immigration policies, as detailed in leaked transcripts of upper level CoreCivic executives. Given the low quality of private prisons and the low quality of immigration enforcement detention centers, that could be a recipe for a humanitarian disaster.
Well, even more so than detaining undocumented immigrants is to begin with.
Private prisons are known for providing lower quality across the board. In order to reduce the bottom line and increase profits comforts for inmates are generally the first to go. Second are classes and job training that the prisons do not directly profit from. These cuts generally combine to take the most rehabilitative services out of prisons and create a stressed prison population that is much harder to manage, making life worse for both prison employees and inmates. In state after state private prisons have proved to have higher recidivism rates and higher levels of violence.
Privatizing prisons almost always makes them worse and in the case of immigration facilities it seems difficult to make them worse than they already are, but privatizing would probably be a good first step.
During the Obama administration hundreds of thousands of people were deported and many of them ended up in prisons that were dubbed “Immigration Detention Centers” for public relations purposes. Conditions in these facilities are notoriously bad and the deportation process itself sometimes lands people there for up to three years. Furthermore a good portion of those detained have committed no crimes and according to the ACLU somewhere between 1% and 4% have a legitimate claim to American citizenship.
Despite the glaring flaws with both private prisons and immigration detention facilities, the private prison industry seems convinced that combining the practices would be a good thing. Considering these corporations rarely seem to care about rehabilitation or any sort of humanitarian concern, it might very well be a good thing. Which is why CoreCivic is in discussions to expand their business to encompass immigration detention facilities as well as run of the mill prisons.
According to ABC the CEO of CoreCivic, Damon Hiniger looked to the future fondly because of Donald Trump. “When coupled with the above average rate of crossings along the Southwest Border, these executive orders appear likely to significantly increase the need for, safe, humane, and appropriate detention bed capacity.”
Unfortunately Hiniger’s facilities are rarely safe or humane and very rarely have adequate bed capacity. Yet that doesn’t stop Hiniger from viewing the future and an increase in immigrant detention with dollar signs in his eyes.