Could States Start Selling Off Prisons?

A Wall Street titan has proposed that states start selling off their prisons to private, for-profit companies to cover budget shortfalls. Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest operator of for-profit prisons, recently sent letters to the governments of 48 states offering to buy prisons as a solution for “challenging corrections budgets.” In exchange for the prisons, the corporation is offering $250 million and a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prisons would remain at least 90 percent full. The idea of selling off prisons first gained traction last year. Ohio has already sold off one of its largest state prisons to Corrections Corporation, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed last year putting up three state prisons for sale, although the plan was killed. Several states, including New York, have laws that prohibit state inmates from being housed in private institutions.