The financial costs of harsh incarceration regimes – mandatory minimum sentences, three-strikes laws – have strained state budgets, prompting many states to turn to private prison companies to build and operate facilities.
In 2012, two new private prisons are set to open in Georgia, bringing the state’s total to nine. All of these facilities are operated by the two biggest private prison companies in the country – Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group. These companies are big money-makers. CCA and The GEO Group together received more than $2.5 billion in revenue in 2010. The companies also make campaign donations to groom political allies, and lobby for – and in some cases draft – the laws that keep their beds in demand. Georgia ranked third among the states in campaign contributions from the major private prison companies during 2003-2010.
Alabama currently has one private prison, operated by the Louisiana-based LCS Corrections.