Private prisons stand to rake in huge returns on their investments in Republican politicians, according to a new report out today from Bloomberg, thanks to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on border crossings.
Two of the largest private prison companies, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and the GEO Group, “have made more than $2.5 million in combined political donations since 2015,” according to Bloomberg. Now they stand to hugely benefit from the most recent crackdown on immigration.
According to Bloomberg, the U.S.’s current capacity to house detained families is only 3,200, and the Department of Homeland Security is considering adding space to house another 15,000 people, or about five times the number of beds currently available. As the liberal think tank Center for American Progress pointed out this morning, the “entire amount would likely go to private prison companies—which currently run 71 percent of immigration detention beds.”
It’s no surprise, then, that private prison companies and their top brass are very, very happy right now. Bloomberg notes that both companies have seen their stocks rise significantly in the last month, even as the rest of the market has not. The CEO of CoreCivic was open about his glee at this situation just a few weeks ago:
Earlier this month, CoreCivic Chief Executive Officer Damon Hininger raved about the company’s prospects. This is “the most robust kind of sales environment we’ve seen in probably 10 years, not only on the federal side with the dynamics with ICE and Marshals, but also with these activities on the state side,” he said June 5 at an investor conference in New York.
I totally get it; I too love when I can turn the detention of thousands of desperate immigrants into a Robust Sales Environment.
CoreCivic and GEO Group have also both been accused of human rights abuses. A lawsuit filed in 2014 alleged that at a GEO Group immigrant detention facility in Colorado, detainees “are forced to work without pay—and that those who refuse to do so are threatened with solitary confinement.” A similar lawsuit was filed over a CoreCivic immigrant detention facility just last month, alleging that abuse was “endemic to CoreCivic operations.” According to the San Diego Union-Tribune:
The complaint alleges that CoreCivic violated federal forced labor laws by making detainees clean and maintain the facilities for no pay and threatening them with punishments like solitary confinement if they didn’t comply.
It also alleges that in paying detainees $1 per day for a variety of jobs within the facility like doing laundry, preparing meals or cutting hair in the facility’s barber shop, CoreCivic violated wage laws. Detainees were only allowed to spend that pay at the commissary operated by CoreCivic, the complaint says.
Again, it’s just super that CoreCivic’s CEO is so excited to make a bunch of money off all this. Really happy for him.
As CAP noted, Trump’s executive order mandating family detention rather than separating children spurred this: The DHS request for information was posted just two days after the executive order. Previously, DHS’ budget request had only included funds for 2,500 family detention beds.
On a totally unrelated topic, GEO Group and CoreCivic have also both made huge donations to both Trump and GOP midterm efforts. Per Bloomberg:
GEO Group and CoreCivic are active political donors. Each contributed $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee.
GEO Group also gave $275,000 to the Trump aligned super-PAC, Rebuilding America Now, in 2016 and another $170,000 to Trump Victory, which supported his campaign and Republican party committees. Ahead of the midterms, the company has given $200,000 to the Congressional Leadership Fund, which supports the House GOP, and $100,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund.
CoreCivic’s PAC has given $134,000 to Republican candidates and committees ahead of the midterms, and $7,000 to Democrats.
GEO spent a record $1.7 million lobbying in 2017, including $550,000 paid to Ballard Partners, a firm started by a top fundraiser for Trump, disclosures show.
Ballard Partners, you may remember, is run by Brian Ballard, a 2016 campaign finance chair for Trump who is adamant that he doesn’t trade on his access to the president. It just so happens that companies who stand to make millions off Trump’s actions are paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars for lobbying. Nothing to see here!