Goodbye CCA. Hello CoreCivic. The nation’s largest private prison operator, Corrections Corporation of America, will soon shed its decades-old name in favor of a flashier font, coyly angled logo, and new name: CoreCivic. In a press release issued October 28, CCA said it plans to finalize its name change by the end of 2016. This “rebranding,” the word the company chose to describe its next stage, “is the culmination of a multi-year strategy to transform our business from largely corrections and detention services to a wider range of government solutions,” president and chief executive Damon T. Hininger said.
There is something for honesty. The company’s press release spends more time highlighting the aesthetic differences that its name change represents than discussing any meaningful impact to its clients, investors, or the people who it is supposed to care for. The new font is “bolder, sleeker and more modern.” The company’s new “color palette [is] intended to evoke attributes such as safety, strength, passion, stability, integrity and seriousness.” And the logo is tilted on one side to 19.83° harkening to the year the company was founded and the other side leans to 20.16° marking the rebranding year.
Nothing else is different. It will continue to operate prisons on behalf of numerous local, state, and federal government entities. And it will continue to diversify its revenue stream to include a multifaceted array of alternatives to detention—from electronic monitoring regimes to reentry services. All, as another top executive said, to “expand the scope of solutions that we can offer our partners.”
All eyes turn to those governmental “partners” to set the stage for the private prison industry’s future. Will it thrive under a Trump Administration? Early signs certainly suggest so. In the 24 hours following Trump’s election, CCA’s stock jumped an eye-popping 43%. Geo’s stock climbed a remarkable 21%.
This is a clear indication that investors think a Trump Administration will continue the federal government’s deep ties to the private prison industry. They have every reason to think this. In June Trump claimed that private prisons run better than publicly-operated facilities. Meanwhile, GEO spent over $673,000 contributing to political candidates, including Trump, this election season.
A bit of perspective is helpful, though. Both companies did well yesterday, but their prices are still below where they were a year ago. Similarly, CCA and GEO both traded yesterday for less than they did at their peak last summer.
Despite recent setbacks, the reality is that the private prison industry has had a ready customer in the federal government for years. The Justice Department’s announcement in August that it plans to reduce its reliance on private prison corporations has existed under a cloud of suspicion since then as more recent decisions suggest cutting ties is harder than saying it would cut ties. Moreover, ICE has proven itself ready to take over private prisons shunned by the Justice Department.
Obviously I have no idea where their prices will be a year from now. If a President Trump actually carries out his promises–and I have every reason to think that he will try–then every sector of the mammoth immigration prison regime will benefit. Every sector, of course, except for migrants, their families, their communities, and all the rest of us who benefit from their presence in the United States.