These Companies Making A Fortune On Mass Incarceration
James Kilgore at Truthout has the story.
[su_r_sky_ad]Likely the most well-known prison profiteers in the United States are the Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group. Between them, these two firms pulled in about $3.3 billion last year running scores of private prisons and immigration detention centers.
However, these two firms are not alone feasting at the trough of corrections expenditure. Many other companies, most of them off the popular radar, are also benefiting from epidemic prison and jail building. Some may even be even operating in your neighborhood.
Here are some of the companies mentioned:
- Turner Construction: If We Build it They Will Come: According to IbisWorld, Turner’s average annual income for prison and jail construction came to $278 million per year from 2007 to 2012. This represents lots of money in most quarters, but qualifies as only slightly more than pocket change to a firm that earned $9 billion in total revenue for 2013. In almost a century and a half of operation, Turner has been involved in building New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium and constructing corporate headquarters for Boeing and the RAND Corporation. It has about 5,000 employees worldwide.
- Securus Technologies: Justifying $1.3 billion in KickbacksSecurus Technologies specializes in telecommunications in prisons and jails. It currently is the second largest provider of carceral phone services. The company was acquired by Castle Harlan, Inc., a New York-based private equity corporation, in 2011 for an estimated $450 million. Securus currently operates in some 2,200 correctional facilities in North America.
For years, companies like Securus have been winning phone contracts by overcharging customers, then paying kickbacks to state departments of corrections and local sheriffs. Nationally, the FCC estimates that kickbacks come to over $400 million annually. All of these kickbacks, officially called “site commissions” are legal – written right into the contracts.
Illinois is a typical example of Securus’s operations in this world of phone superprofits. The company currently holds the phone contracts in 76 of the state’s 102 county jails, as well as the lucrative pact covering some 48,000 men and women in Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) prisons.
- Bob Barker: “Honoring God in All We Do”
While a host of suppliers have found prisons and jails to be a unique niche, perhaps none has adapted to the new marketplace as masterfully as Bob Barker Industries. Founded in the 1970s and now based in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, Bob Barker (no connection to the former TV game show host) produces a wide range of goods for prisoners and prison staff.
The firm bills itself as a “worldwide leader in delivering innovative products and services to correctional and rehabilitation customers.” The company vision: “Transforming criminal justice while honoring God in all we do,” captures the divine inspiration behind their profit-making.
Barker’s transformation program includes a variety of cheaply made goods for the incarcerated: jumpsuits, sandals, T-shirts, board games, and black-and-white-striped canvas shoes. They also sell steel stools and benches for day rooms and yards.
It’s quite a racket. And there is great interest in maintaining our prison industry.