Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is upbeat on the prospect of the business of private prisons. And executives representing the Corrections Corporation of America are definitely happy about the governor’s attitude.
The relationship benefits both parties. It diverts public attention from one of the governor’s core frustrations, the state’s prison guard union.
In his last State of the State speech, Schwarzenegger revealed plans to amend the California Constitution to require the state to spend more on universities than on prisons.
One avenue for slicing billions from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget would be to privatize prisons, the governor said.
A TIGHT BOND
However, this arrangement would also benefit Corrections Corp. of America. Based in Tennessee, the firm has built a tight bond with the governor’s administration and is profiting sweetly from California’s prison debacle.
In 2006 Schwarzenegger started busing inmates to private prisons after prison overcrowding lawsuits and federal judges ordered the state to improve its inmate health and mental health care.
With laws like three strikes and Marsy’s Law, coupled with the Board of Prison Term’s dismal record of granting parole, inmate populations have soared.
On Oct. 19, 2006 Corrections Corp. penned its first deal: 900 inmates at four human lockups, $63 per body per day, at more than $20 million per year.
Since then the Corrections Corp. contract has been changed several times. California now holds the power to house just about 9,000 to 10,000 inmates in Corrections Corp’s facilities. The price will be around $72 per prisoner per day.