In another recent story involving private prisons, the owners of two private, for-profit juvenile facilities, in Pennsylvania, were giving kickbacks to a judge, Mark Ciavarella, for sentencing children to extended stays in juvenile detention for offenses as minimal as mocking a principal on Myspace or trespassing in a vacant building. This scandal became known as "kids-for-cash". The judge was eventually sentenced to a lengthy prison term, but not before he ruined many children's lives. In one heartbreaking story, a seventeen year old boy, with no prior record, committed suicide shortly after being released from a private prison that Judge Mark Ciavarella ordered him to be locked up at. The boy's mother angrily confronted Ciavarella after a court appearance. You can watch the video here:
The two big companies profiting off of private prisons are Corrections Corporation of America, and The Geo Group Inc. These two companies have combined revenue of over $3 billion. These companies spend millions on lobbying federal and state governments, as well as millions in political contributions to candidates.
Over the past 15 years, the number of people held in all prisons in the United States has increased by 49.6 percent, while private prison populations have increased by 353.7 percent, as governments are increasingly looking to privatize their prisons to save money.