For-profit prison companies are moving more prisoners far away from their homes and families, Bloomberg News reports.
“It’s a business and the prisoners are the cogs in that machine, …It’s not about what’s best for the prisoners; it’s about how do you run a profitable (prison) enterprise,” said Michele Deitch, senior lecturer at the LBJ School and the School of Law at the University of Texas, Austin.
Moving prisoners far from their homes makes it more likely they will commit crimes again, Deitch said. “Prisoners allowed in-person visitation are 25 percent less likely to commit a criminal offense post-release, according to a 2016 study by researcher at Sam Houston State University,” the story reported.
Bloomberg noted the for- profit prison company Core-Civic. Inc. has moved prisoners from Puerto Rico to the mainland. Puerto Rico prisoners must volunteer before being transferred out of the territory, said Eric Rolon, secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Corrections.
In 2012 inmates from Puerto Rico were transferred to a CoreCivic U.S. location, and there was clashing between them and local prisoners, the story said.
While government clients see for-profit prisons as a means to ease overcrowding and save money, the prisoner’s experience is of being far away from home, family and legal counsel. An example is Puerto Rican Giovannie Marrero, who is doing a 20 year term for domestic assault.
He will be transferred to a CoreCivic facility in Mississippi, 1,800 miles away from his home. What is a “real opportunity” for clients is a negative experience for prisoners and their families.
Bloomberg News reported most state prisoners are jailed 100 miles from their home, while prisoners from Puerto Rico face being transferred 1,800 miles across the waters of the Mexican Gulf.
CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist said the company’s anti-recidivism efforts provide for education, job training, addiction counseling and reentry programs — all of that beyond the requirements of their contracts.
For Puerto Rico, sending their prisoners to a for-profit facility will save the bankrupt commonwealth island money, Bloomberg noted. According to Secretary Rolon, this could mean as much as $50 million annually.