The country’s two largest private prison corporations, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, released financial statements this week that reveal their continuing reliance on immigration imprisonment for millions of dollars of revenue. As publicly traded companies, CCA and GEO must both submit certain information to government regulators.
Corrections Corporation of America
On Wednesday, CCA, the larger of the two companies, released its FY 2014 First Quarter Supplemental Financial Information. That document states that the company earned $404 million in revenue from January 1 to March 31, 2014, the company’s first quarter (page 1). It also reported $341 million in expenses during this period (page 3). On average, it had 85,001 beds available for use by its various customers during this period, and was paid to use 84.3% of those beds (page 8). This is a slight decrease from the first quarter of FY 2013 when it was paid to use 85.5% of its 89,281 available beds (page 8).
Immigration imprisonment occupies a significant segment of CCA’s work. The two federal agencies responsible for detaining federal criminal suspects or convicted offenders, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons, were CCA’s first and third largest customers as measured by revenue CCA earned. The company took in $69,993,000 from USMS and $53,501 from the BOP from January through March (page 12). Admittedly, both the USMS and BOP house non-immigration detainees so these figures do not reflect what CCA earned solely for confining immigration crime suspects or offenders on behalf of these agencies. That said, immigration crimes lead many people into USMS or BOP custody. The USMS expects to book 105,164 migrants in FY 2015 due to an immigration crime, roughly half of the 220,599 people it expects to take into custody that year. For its part, 12% of the BOP’s prison population sentenced to one year or more in 2010 was there for an immigration crime.
In addition, CCA received $46,971,000 in revenue from ICE, its fourth largest customer, during the first quarter (page 12). These individuals are exclusively being held in relation to removal proceedings. These are the CCA facilities that were primarily used by ICE during this period, the bed space capacity, and occupancy rates for which CCA was compensated during the first quarter (page 13-16):
- Eloy Detention Center: 1500 beds; 98.17% compensated occupancy
- San Diego Correctional Facility: 1,154 beds; 84.35% compensated occupancy
- Stewart Detention Center: 1,752 beds; 77.88% compensated occupancy
- Elizabeth Detention Center: 300 beds; 95.00% compensated occupancy
- Houston Processing Center: 1,000 beds; 94.44% compensated occupancy
- Laredo Processing Center: 258 beds; 102.29% compensated occupancy
- T. Don Hutto Residential Center: 512 beds; 95.72% compensated occupancy
Combined, CCA had 6,476 beds under contract with ICE during the first quarter of 2014.
Another 1,492 beds are on the way and expected to become available for ICE’s use in 2015 at the Otay Mesa Detention Center (page 17).
The GEO Group provided less information in the Form 10-Q that it submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but it is nonetheless telling. To begin, the company had $393 million in revenue and $291 million in expenses during the first three months of 2014 (page 3). Worldwide it claimed 77,000 beds available (page 7).
One of GEO’s most fascinating ventures is its development of electronic monitoring systems. It currently has “an exclusive contract with [ICE]…to provide supervision and reporting services designed to improve the participation of non-detained aliens in the immigration court system” (page 30). What this suggests is that GEO is not tying its future to confinement. It is perfectly happy to make money from alternatives to detention. This ought to serve as a cautionary reminder to immigrants’ rights advocates who criticize ICE’s reliance on private prisons because of the companies’ profit motives. While there is an undeniable difference between detention and alternatives to detention, the profit motive doesn’t disappear simply because a migrant is monitored by ankle bracelet rather than prison guards.
Of course, GEO continues investing in prisons. It recently secured contracts to expand the Río Grande Detention Center from 1,500 to 1,900 beds for use by USMS and ICE (page 38). It also signed a contract recently with ICE to develop and run a new 400-bed immigration prison in Alexandria, Louisiana (page 38).
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