Privatization of the U.S. Prison System

PrisonThe prison industry is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the United States. The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., but reached a peak in 1993 under President William Clinton.

The private prison industry is the business in which inmates are handed over to for-profit prisons under a convict lease system. In the United States, the number of private prisons has dramatically increased; private prison systems climbed to 100 from 5 over a 10-year span. America holds 25% of the world’s prison population but only 5% of its overall population. More than 2million people are caged in prison. From which more than 60,000 inmates are handed over to private prison industries.

For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, business has been rather lucrative; the profits are substantial. The following graphic shows how profitable the US prison industry is;  “Between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion” dollars.

Private prison companies often use inmates as cheap labor. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, leaves or comp time. All of their workers are full-time and never arrive late nor are they absent because of family problems. Moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells. Prisoners are compensated just  $.50 cents per day, while the prison industry Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) collects $55 dollars a day per prisoner  to keep them incarcerated.
The US Private Prison System
Privatization of the US Prison System. An Infographic from
Author: Zoey DeGarmo is a freelance writer, working for She loves to write and create visuals on crime, justice, law and other public issues.