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Private Prisons are Paid for Empty Cells



We are living in a world where up is down and down is up. For example, the United States has five percent of the world’s population and twenty-five percent of the world’s inmates. There are a number of causes for this glaring statistic. This article will focus on our private prisons. Believe it or not, private prisons are paid by the state or county for empty beds. Many of the states have contracts with private prisons requiring “Lockup Quotas.” Taxpayers are paying for empty prison beds even in states with declining crime rates.

Three privately run prisons in Arizona have contracts that require one hundred percent inmate occupancy. Arizona is obligated to keep its private prisons filled to capacity. If not filled, it has to pay the private company for any unused beds. Louisiana, Oklahoma and Virginia have contracts with the highest occupancy guarantee requirements. All three states have quotas requiring between 95% and 100% occupancy. Colorado’s crime rate has dropped almost 33 percent in the past decade. Despite the drop in crime, lockup quotas for three for-profit prisons has forced taxpayers in Colorado to pay an additional $2 million to the private prisons.

Many of the private prison contracts through out the United States have mandatory payments for empty prison cells. The lockup quotas in private prison contracts have ranged between 80 percent and 100 percent. The occupancy requirements have placed prison officials between a rock and a hard place. If the state does not provide the quota of inmates to the private prisons, then the state officials have to explain why they are wasting taxpayers money on empty cells. In the end, lockup quotas counter the philosophies of rehabilitation and lower recidivism.

Do private prisons really benefit society?