About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

December 17, 2010

Private Prisons in Maine

1) Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest for-profit prison operator, spends $25,000 for Maine Republican candidate Paul LePage. He wins the election. But state law prohibits private prisons. This kind of law is one of the few good things to come from prison guard union lobbying.

2) A few weeks before becoming governor, according to Lance Tapley in the Portland, Maine, Phoenix Lepage meets with CCA's reps

3) The governor-elect's spokesman says LePage "will try to get the law changed."

4) CCA says they will build a giant prison in remote, impoverished Piscataquis County.

5) The last step is to fill the prison by lobbying elected officials for more and longer prison sentences. To not do so wouldn't be in the best interest of your shareholders. It's nothing personal; it's just business.

6) Repeat. Since 1970, the US prison and jail population has gone from 338,000 to 2.3 million.

And check out CCA's creepy website which includes what seems like a parody video from one of those dystopic-future movies like Starship Troopers or Blade Runner.

Also of note from the Phoenix:
CCA officials have talked about a prison housing 2,000 to 2,400 inmates with 200 to 300 employees. If true, that would be an extraordinarily small number of staff for such a large number of prisoners. The Maine State Prison has just over 400 workers — most of them guards — to deal with just over 900 prisoners.
Remember the rule of thumb that you need roughly six employees to man one shift. So CCA would have approximately one guard for every 60 prisoners. Maine currently spends $41,000 per prisoner.


Anonymous said...

Every single person in that video who works for CCA is very, very fat. The prisoners are not fat. This speaks of a larger problem.

PCM said...

The guards are stealing their food!

Bren said...

"But state law prohibits prison prisons." Not trying to be typo police... did this mean private prisons, or is it a comment on Maine prison conditions.

PCM said...

I always welcome typo police! I meant private prisons. (and it's now corrected.)

Thank you.