President’s deportation policy could increase prison population

America’s prison population is likely to rise for the first time in nearly a decade if President Donald Trump keeps his promise to detain and deport millions of immigrants, The Associated Press reports.

Such a policy would benefit private for-profit prison companies, the story added. After Trump commented on immigrantion policies, their stock prices jumped, according to a Nov. 23 AP report.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), re-branded as CoreCivic Co. (CCC), saw the biggest percentage gain on the New York Stock Exchange at 43 percent. Geo Group’s stock prices soared 21 percent.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration announced in August it would phase out private prison use, but this policy change did not affect Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons,” Trump told MSNBC in March. “It seems to work a lot better.” He did not offer any details on what that might mean for the federal system.

“Trump was saying during his 100-day plan that mandatory minimums for people re-entering the country would be set at two years – that’s going to require a longer-term need for beds,” said Michael Kodesch, a senior associate at Canaccord Genuity, Inc.

Kodesch also stated immigration detention centers are particularly profitable because they command a higher rate for each inmate bed. ICE holds up to 34,000 immigrants awaiting deportation with about 73 percent held in private facilities.

When asked for comment, CCC spokesman Jonathan Burns said the company doesn’t take positions on proposals or legislation that determines an individual’s incarceration. Instead, the company aims to “educate lawmakers on the benefits of public-private partnership generally and the solutions CoreCivic provides.”

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) review panel concluded immigration authorities should continue to use for-profit prisons despite safety complaints, poor conditions and inadequate medical care, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The DHS panel determined cost to detain immigrants currently in private and public facilities is $3 billion, whereas using government-run prisons solely would cost up to $6 billion.

Marshall Fitz, a member of the Center for American Progress, who helped draft the DHS report, wrote a dissent saying evidence “points directly toward the inferiority of the private prison model.” Although the report passed the advisory council, 17 of 23 members signed on to Fitz’s dissent.

–Salvador Solorio

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