By the Numbers: The Growing For-Profit Detention Industry

There’s money to be made in prisons—lots of it.

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=62057380">Matej Hudovernik</a>/Shutterstock

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This story first appeared on the ProPublica website.

The growth of the private detention industry has long been a subject of scrutiny. A recent eight-part series in the New Orleans Times-Picayune chronicled how more than half of Louisiana’s 40,000 inmates are housed in prisons run by sheriffs or private companies as part of a broader financial incentive scheme. The detention business goes beyond just criminal prisoners.

As a Huffington Post investigation pointed out last month, nearly half of all immigrant detainees are now held in privately run detention facilities. Just this week, the New York Times delved into lax oversight at industrial-sized but privately run halfway houses in New Jersey.

We’ve taken a look at some of the numbers associated with the billion-dollar and wide-ranging for-profit detention industry—and the two companies that dominate the market:

General Statistics:

1.6 million: Total number of state and federal prisoners in the United States as of December 2010, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics

128,195: Number of state and federal prisoners housed in private facilities as of December 2010

37: Percent by which number of prisoners in private facilities increased between 2002 and 2009

217,690: Total federal inmate population as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Prisons

27,970: Number of federal inmates in privately managed facilities within the Bureau of Prisons

33,330: Estimated size of detained immigrant population as of 2011, according to the US Department of Homeland Security

Corrections Corporation of America

66: Number of facilities owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest private prison company based on number of facilities

91,000: Number of beds available in CCA facilities across 20 states and the District of Columbia

$1.7 billion: Total revenue recorded by CCA in 2011

$17.4 million: Lobbying expenditures in the last 10 years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics

$1.9 million: Total political contributions from 2003 to 2012, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics

$3.7 million: Executive compensation for CEO Damon T. Hininger in 2011

132: Recorded number of inmate-on-inmate assaults at CCA-run Idaho Correctional Center between September 2007 and September 2008

42: Recorded number of inmate-on-inmate assaults at the state-run Idaho State Correctional Institution in the same time frame (both prisons at the time held about 1,500 inmates)

The Geo Group, Inc., the nation’s second-largest private detention company

$1.6 billion: Total revenue in year 2011, according to its annual report

65: Number of domestic correctional facilities owned and operated by Geo Group

65,716: Number of beds available in Geo Group’s domestic correctional facilities

$2.5 million: Lobbying expenditures in the last eight years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics

$2.9 million: Total political contributions from 2003 to 2012, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics

$5.7 million: Executive compensation for CEO George C. Zoley in 2011

$6.5 million: Damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit against the company last June for the beating death of an inmate by his cellmate at a GEO Group-run Oklahoma prison. An appeal has been filed and is pending.

$1.1 million: Fine levied against the company in November 2011 by the New Mexico Department of Corrections for inadequate staffing at one of its prisons

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

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