Private Prisons Earn More than the GDP of Greenland and the Virgin Islands, COMBINED

What's Going On


BY:  John “Hennry” Harris

A compelling infographic compiled by shows just how private prison populations have skyrocketed over the years and sheds light on not only the racial disparity of Blacks housed in the prison complexes, but the staggering rise of immigration detention as well.

In 1984, the U.S. began experimenting with private prisons in an effort for states to save money.  Arguably, saving money is not always the case and many point to the private prison system as one that is full of corruption.  A fact that can not go unnoticed is the surge in private prison population: between 1990-2009 the private inmate population grew by more than 1,600%, netting major profits while creating a perverse incentive for mass incarceration.

Take a look inside the numbers below:

Currently there are 1,598,780 state and federal prisoners and 128,195 state and federal prisoners housed in private facilities.

There has been a 37% increase in the private prison population between 2002 and 2009, leading to a financial windfall for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and The GEO Group, Inc., the two largest private prison corporations.  The combined revenue of CCA and The GEO Group in 2011 was a whopping $3.4 billion, with CCA earning $1.74 billion and GEO adding $1.6 billion in profits.  That is more than the GDP of Greenland and the U.S. Virgin Islands combined.

CCA controls 66 facilities that hold 90,000 beds throughout the country and The GEO Group has 56 facilities housing 61,000 beds.  Both corporations have faced allegations of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at some of their facilities made evident by $6.5 million in damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit against GEO Group in the beating death of an inmate by his cellmate and a $1.1 million fine against GEO Group for inadequate staffing by the New Mexico Department of Corrections.

Minorities also appear to be over-represented in private prisons even more than government-run facilities.  For example in California, 75%  of publicly run facilities are inmates of color compared to 89% inmates of color at private prison institutions.  In Texas, 66% of public facilities house inmates are of color as opposed to 71% inmates of color in private institutions.

As troubling as the percentages of inmates of color are, there is a growing trend of immigration detainees being held in private prisons.  Immigration detainees number about 400,000 a year with 50% of them being held in private prisons, up from 25% in 2003.  Since 1994, immigration detention has seen a boon of 457%, shedding light on the unnoticed plight of immigrants in America.

The privatization of prisons has proven to make staggering profits for a business whose objective is to house prisoners/people.  If people can see the dangers in fast-food restaurants, pushing grease-laden foods for profit, it is amazing that the conflict of interests are not visible for a business that becomes more profitable locking people up.




    • GDP is short for Gross Domestic Product. In this instance it would be the total value of goods produced by prison inmates and the profit made by private corporations from that free labor.
      In other words, free labor from prison inmates equals obscene profits for corporations and is as the very same as slavery, better known as corporate slavery or as with prisons, institutionalized slavery!!!

  1. It really undermines the argument here when the writer can’t get his figures right and he makes bogus comparisons to two of the world’s tiniest countries.

    Revenues and profits are NOT the same thing. In 2012, CCA and GEO had total combined revenue of $3.24 billion. But revenues are irrelevant if a company can’t actually report a profit, which for both of these companies combined was only $291 million (less than 10% of revenues) for the year.

    To put this in perspective, in 2012 General Motors had revenue of $132 billion and net income of $7.8 billion. GM is big business, CCA and GEO are just also-rans in this respect.

    Dr. Boyce tells us he is a business professor, but he sure let’s some articles on this Web site that show very little understanding of how business actually works. Why is this important? Because people who read these articles think the writer has identified a major scandal and they wonder why no one else seems to care. But no one else really cares because, in the grand scheme of things racial and otherwise, CCA and GEO are not all that important. There are much bigger fish to fry when it comes to racial equality in America.

    • “Dr. Boyce tells us he is a business professor, but he sure let’s some articles on this Web site that show very little understanding of how business actually works.”
      That’s why they teach, that way they don’t have to take action and actually do something that they will fail at.

  2. Yes, the fact that Our Children are prime subjects for this free institutionalized labor will always be disturbing information. Modern day privateers are yesterday’ pirates continuing their Slave trafficking of African-American Men and boys. 🙁 capitalism is great, but when it involves USING HUMANS AGAINST THEIR FREE WILL, then it’s no longer Capitalism. It’s a form of Colonialism…Period. 🙁 × 🙁 = 🙁 .

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