Skip to main content

See also:

Prison: the secret industry


There are currently 2.3 million people in the United States that are living behind bars. That number has steadily grown for years and is at the highest it has ever been. These incarcerated individuals cost the federal government 55 billion dollars every year. Coincidentally, the prison industry has turned into a money machine and booming business.

Between the years 1990 and 2010 the number of privately operated prisons in the US has increased a huge 1,600%. The two largest private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group have 162 prisons between them, made 3.3 billion dollars in 2012, and make up 75% of the private prison industry. Contracts with the government ensure that their "lock-up quotas" are met; the contract states that prison occupancy will stay at, or above, a specified level. In certain contracts, if occupancy rates fall below what was agreed upon, the government still pays for the empty beds. Some of these contracts go far enough that they demand a 90% minimum occupancy level. Prisons contract labor via inmates to private companies to make money as well. Companies like McDonald's and Boeing's portion of employment is from prison labor; one of the cheapest forms of labor.

For more on the burgeoning prison industry take a look at this infographic. Don't forget to tell us what you think in the comments and like and share!