The economy may still be stuck in the doldrums for most industries, but the largest private prison company is feeling good about where it stands and where it’s headed. The Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s dominant private imprisoning corporation, recently told investors that it is doing a lot of business with DHS and sees plenty of growth potential. CCA, Investor Presentation (March 2012).
In a slideshow posted on its web site recently, CCA announced that it has a “$3 billion gross book value portfolio consist[ing] of 92,043 beds comprised of 47 owned facilities with 66,719 beds and 20 managed-only facilities with 25,334 beds.” Investor Presentation at 6. These numbers give it control of 43.7% of the USA’s privately owned or managed prison beds. Investor Presentation at 7.
Though most of CCA’s business comes from penal confinement, a significant percentage comes from ICE—11.78% of its
revenue, in fact. Investor Presentation at 8. Importantly, it thinks ICE will provide more business in the coming years. Many ICE-run detention centers, CCA reports, “do not meet new detention standards.” Investor Presentation at 20.
Plus, ICE has been trying to moves its prisoners from local jails to centralized prisons, an objective CCA thinks it is well positioned to help ICE satisfy given that “since 1998, ICE has relied solely on incremental bed capacity from the private sector and local jails” rather than build its own prisons. Investor Presentation at 20. Indeed, ICE is currently “seeking concepts to build three new facilities to consolidate populations currently housed in county jails”—near Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago, a plan corroborated by the New York Times. Investor Presentation at 36.
Whether CCA will succeed at luring more ICE business remains to be seen. What’s clear from reading its slideshow, though, is that it’s salivating at the prospect of this and other private prison growth. “Only 10% of the $74 billion market is privatized,” it went on to tell investors, so plenty of room exists to expand its footprint. Investor Presentation at 43.
One other graphic caught my eye. CCA claims that state prison populations usually drop during recessions. Investor Presentation at 21. It explained this as part of its pitch that business will be even better once the economy picks up.
For me, though, the interesting point is that immigration imprisonment has been growing quite steadily for many years, including during the Great Recession. A recent Congressional Research Service report provides the daily DHS detention population from 2001 to 2012. Alison Siskin, Congressional Research Service, Immigration-Related Detention: Current Legislative Issues 13 fig. 1 (Jan. 12, 2012). It’s wavered a bit, but the 2012 figure (32,953) is well above the 2006 number (19,409) as well as higher than every year except 2011 (33,330). So what’s different about immigration imprisonment?
Many thanks to Harold Rocha from bringing the CCA information to my attention.