Corrections privatization in the Eastern US

Privatization efforts in the prison industry are moving forward steadily in the Eastern US, though not without some challenges and setbacks. Reason highlighted several states in our recent Annual Privatization Report 2008, including Tennessee, Florida, and Rhode Island. In Tennessee, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) announced in February that it is going to build a $143 million, 2,000-bed facility outside Nashville. The Trousdale Correctional Center, when completed sometime in early 2010, will be CCA’s eighth prison in the state, but will also house some federal and out-of-state prisoners. Florida may be building its sixth and largest private prison. GEO has a new facility for Jackson County on the drawing board, a $70 million, 1,500-bed prison called Graceville Correctional Facility. GEO has also said they are considering building a seventh prison, this one in Marion County. Florida’s five privately run state prisons currently house 7,000 prisoners. Rhode Island officials are facing a frustrating problem as they try to make budget cuts across the board. A plan to privatize prison counselor positions, saving the state over $450,000, has been stalled because state laws grant job and salary security to those who’ve worked for the state for over 20 years. Lawmakers seeking to rectify the problem also have to adjust a law that limits the privatization of state services. To read more about these measures and see news on Mississippi, Pennsylvania and other states, see the Public Safety section of APR 2008. For more information about privatized corrections operations in general visit the Corrections and Prisons page on our website.