2011-11-18 "Private Prison Charges Inmates $5 A Minute For Phone Calls While They Work For $1 A Day" by Amanda Peterson Beadle
Last year the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, received $74 million of taxpayers’ money to run immigration detention centers [http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/09/16/117661/sb1070-prison-lobby/]. Their largest facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, receives $200 a night for each of the 2,000 detainees it holds, and rakes in yearly profits between $35 million and $50 million [http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/11/15/detainees-working-for-1-a-day-using-phone-for-5-a-minute/].
Prisoners held in this remote facility depend on the prison’s phones to communicate with their lawyers and loved ones. Exploiting inmates’ need, CCA charges detainees here $5 per minute to make phone calls [http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/11/15/detainees-working-for-1-a-day-using-phone-for-5-a-minute/]. Yet the prison only pays inmates who work at the facility $1 a day. At that rate, it would take five days to pay for just one minute.
Watch this report on the conditions Stewart detainees face:
CCA’s abuse doesn’t stop at outrageously priced phone services. One woman reported that her diabetic husband does not receive enough food, so she has to deposit money for him to buy more. Occupy Nashville recently protested outside of the company by holding a “human auction” to illustrate how CCA profits off of human suffering [http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/11/16/369536/cca-nashville-occupy-protest/].
As Alternet points out [http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/11/15/detainees-working-for-1-a-day-using-phone-for-5-a-minute/], in the past few years, CCA has spent $14.8 million “lobbying for anti-immigration laws to ensure they have continuous access to fresh inmates and keep their money racket going.” Recent anti-immigration laws in Alabama and Georgia keep their facilities full and CCA profits high.
Since more prisoners translate into more profit, private prisons like CCA continually push lawmakers to enact harsher policies and longer sentences, according to a report by Justice Policy Institute (JPI) [http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/06/23/251363/cca-geogroup-prison-industry/].