News & Politics

Watch MSNBC's Ruhle Show How Private Prison Companies Are "Cashing in" on Trump immigration Policies

"Sounds like slavery, doesn't it?"

Photo Credit: NBC News

From the June 22 edition of MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle:

STEPHANIE RUHLE (HOST): In today's money, power, politics: private prisons. They are cashing in on President Trump's get-tough policies at the border. Since 1997, the Federal Bureau of Prison has paid private companies to build and operate prisons to ease capacity at government-run facilities. The share of federal prisoners nationwide held in private prisons has surged from just 3 percent in the late 90's to more than 20 percent today. The biggest factor fueling growth is, you guessed it, immigration detention centers. 

Who are these companies? CoreCivic, also known as CCA; Management and Training Corporation, known as MTC; and the GEO Group are three of the biggest players in the private prison business. Together, they operate some 14 federal facilities nationwide, providing 27,000 beds for federal inmates, and that is growing.

That growth was under threat when the Obama administration attempted to phase out all contracts with private prisons. The big three players decided to take action, and they spent big on the 2016 campaign. Guess how. GEO donated $1.1 million to Republican candidates and political action committees. CoreCivic spent another $1.1 million on lobbying efforts. And MTC spent nearly half a million bucks to do the same. And those efforts, they certainly paid off. 

When President Trump reversed the phase out decision early in his administration, that is despite a 2014 lawsuit accusing GEO of forcing immigration detainees to work for little or no pay by threatening them with solitary confinement. Sounds like slavery, doesn't it? Critics say the private business model encourages cost-cutting and even slavery to boost its bottom line profits. And guess what? It's working. 

Since President Trump's election, shares for GEO have shot up 25 percent, while CoreCivic stock is 12 percent higher. MTC is not publicly traded, but its revenues are said to be robust. I want to point out some of the larger shareholders, if you want to check your 401(k), BlackRock and Vanguard, and granted, they may own them as part of an index, but they choose to do that.

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