When you listen to hip-hop music on the radio, you are likely to hear a message that promotes criminal behavior. The artist might glorify a life of selling drugs, then talk about doing drugs. After that, he might talk about robbing, killing and quite a few other things that can land a young person in prison. Young black kids idolize hip-hop artists, who are often the only black media figures that they see besides athletes.By the time some of these lost youth hit their teenage years, they may have been taken in by the culture. The boys are sagging their pants, maybe where corn rows like their favorite artist. Their slang matches and changes with the artists on the radio, and some of them even carry weapons or sell drugs just like their idols. Pretty soon, many of them are carted off to prison.
A year ago they had little room but now three sets of bunk-beds cram six people together in a place designed for two. They once had four television rooms but those are being converted into more bed-space as well. All the while, the conversation is alive about how much money the prison is making off them.
The Bureau of Prisons and Department of Justice run state and federal prisons, both of whom point to the national budget. If asked, representatives for these prisons say that no one profits from the inmates, that the prison labor is to sustain and maintain the prison itself and that it is government funded.
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), on the other hand, owns and manages over 65 correctional institutions and prisons at every level, representing over 91,000 beds in 20 states. According to the public financial information available, CCA received 43% of their total revenue from federal correctional and detention authorities. The remaining 57% would be profit derived from prison labor. In 2011 alone they generated $351.1 million in cash.
CCA launched this scheme one year ago, with the first private purchase of a state prison anywhere in the country. Following their purchase of Lake Erie, CCA officials wrote a bold letter to 48 governors stating that this was only the beginning – that states would line up to sell public prisons to turn a quick dime.