On September 19, In the Public Interest released our blockbuster report “Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and ‘Low-Crime Taxes’ Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Companies.” In a matter of hours, tens of thousands of people had read, tweeted, and shared the report on social media, and the term “lockup quota” – which did not exist before we released the report – was suddenly a hot topic on Twitter and in the blogosphere.

In other words, we got people’s attention. 

This report is part of our larger campaign to change the narrative and promote change on the issue of outsourcing public services and assets.  In the past few months, we have developed a proactive legislative agenda, worked in partnership with the Center for Media and Democracy on their incredible new website OutsourcingAmericaExposed.org, and more than quadrupled ITPI’s social media presence. 

Please take a moment to peruse the coverage below, and be sure to follow us on Facebook to see what’s next.


Donald Cohen

Executive Director, In the Public Interest


Are Governments Incentivizing Longer Prison Terms?

By Reid Wilson

September 19, 2013

Prisoners cost money. They’re expensive to house and feed, and while they’re behind bars, most don’t contribute to the economy. Once they’re out of jail, their economic productivity is significantly below that of non-offenders. That’s why public policy goals on incarceration focus on avoiding crime altogether or, at the least, keeping inmates in jail only until they’re rehabilitated and can rejoin society.

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Prison Quotas Push Lawmakers To Fill Beds, Derail Reform

By Chris Kirkham

September 19, 2013

After three violent inmates escaped from an Arizona private prison in July 2010, prompting a two-week, multi-state manhunt, state corrections officials demanded improvements and stopped sending new inmates to what they called a “dysfunctional” 3,300-bed facility.

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Private Prison Contracts Are Forcing States To Pay For Empty Beds

By Erin Fuchs

September 19, 2013

A new report suggests that having private companies run prisons might not be the best idea. 

The advocacy group In The Public Interest analyzed 62 contracts between counties and states and private prison contractors. The analysis found 65% of the contracts had clauses that promised to pay for empty beds if they did not lock up a certain number of people.

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This Is How Private Prison Companies Make Millions Even When Crime Rates Fall

By Andy Kroll

September 19, 2013

We are living in boom times for the private prison industry. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest owner of private prisons, has seen its revenue climb by more than 500 percent in the last two decades. And CCA wants to get much, much bigger: Last year, the company made an offer to 48 governors to buy and operate their state-funded prisons. But what made CCA’s pitch to those governors so audacious and shocking was that it included a so-called occupancy requirement, a clause demanding the state keep those newly privatized prisons at least 90 percent full at all times, regardless of whether crime was rising or falling.

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Editorial: More reliance on private prisons not the answer

By World’s Editorials Writers

September 21, 2013

With the state’s public prisons running over capacity and the inmate overflow backed up in county jails, 5,000 empty – and therefore available – private prison beds might look like the optimum solution to a chronic problem.

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State ‘lockup quota’ among nation’s highest

By Mike Hasten

September 19, 2013

A national survey has found that Louisiana guarantees private prisons operating in the state that they will have at least 96 percent occupancy, and if they don’t house that many inmates, the state pays them that much, anyway.

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Report: “Low-Crime Tax” Keeps For-Profit Prisons Profitable

By Joshua Holland

September 20, 2013

Compare these two tales of corruption that illustrate how the opportunity to turn a profit distorts our supposedly impartial judicial system.

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How Private Prison Firms Use Quotas To Fill Cells And Coffers

By Nicole Flatow

September 20, 2013

A record number of lawmakers may be calling for shorter sentences and less people in prison. But in the prison industry, contracts with states and local jurisdictions commit them to filling private prison beds — or pay them to keep those beds empty. 

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Lockup Quotas Help For-Profit Prison Companies Keep Profits High and Prisons Full

By Brendan Fischer

September 20, 2013

For-profit prison companies like Corrections Corporation of American and GEO Group are no strangers to controversy. Their business model rests on incarceration, and their profits soared throughout the 1990s and 2000s as harsh sentencing laws, the War on Drugs, and tough immigration enforcement led to a dramatic rise in detention and incarceration.

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Prison privatization: time to end the excesses

By Daily Kos Editors

September 22, 2013

A major private prison corporation was in the news last week, and not for the right reasons. 

The Corrections Corporation of America, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, is one of America’s largest private prison contractors. As of the end of 2012, CCA owned and operated 47 different private prisons across the country, and has management contracts at 20 others. The company is very successful: its 2011 financial statements showed it with revenues approaching $1.75 billion. But as so often happens when public services are contracted out to private companies, the quest for profit stands at odds the public good. 

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Louisiana’s ‘lockup quota’ is among the highest in the nation

By Mike Hasten

September 20, 2013

A national survey has found Louisiana guarantees that private prisons operating in the state will have at least 96 percent occupancy and will be paid the full amount regardless of whether or not they house that many inmates.

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