Trump and Sessions: Great for the Private Prison Industry, Terrible for Civil Rights

by Carl Takei  & Katie Egan

Donald Trump’s victory has been nothing but good news for the private prison industry.

The day after the election, shares of the two biggest private prison corporations — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group — jumped 43 and 21 percent, respectively.

And share prices continue to soar. Since Election Day, CCA and GEO’s stock value has increased by 75 and 54 percent.

Investors have good reason to believe that Trump will rely heavily on private prison companies. When asked how he planned to reform the country’s prison system during a town hall in March, Trump stated: “I do think we can do a lot of privatizations, and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better.”

Additionally, Trump’s hardline stance on immigration practically guarantees an increased need for detention facilities

Stock Graphs

, a gap that private prison companies are more than eager to fill. If Congress fully funds Trump’s proposal to round up and deport 2 to 3 million immigrants in the first year of his presidency, the immigration detention population will more than quadruple — requiring the construction of scores of new jails for immigrants.

Trump Prison Quote

But the fact that the president-elect has selected Sen. Jeff Sessions as his nominee for attorney general gives the private prisons business even more to celebrate.

In October, according to Politico, GEO Group hired Sen. Sessions’ former aides David Stewart and Ryan Robichaux to lobby in favor of outsourcing federal corrections to private companies. GEO Group is the same private prison company that was accused of illegally donating to a Rebuild America Now, a pro-Donald Trump super PAC, earlier this year.

Sessions Aides

The ACLU does not endorse or oppose any nominee for public office, but we do analyze their track records. We are alarmed that if Sessions were confirmed as attorney general, the private prison lobby could have direct access to the head of the Department of Justice and tremendous influence over the Trump administration.

By their nature, private prisons depend on and profit from the mass imprisonment of human beings. And decades of experience have shown that handing people in government custody over to for-profit companies is a recipe for abuse and neglect. For example, at one GEO-run immigration detention facility in Colorado, Evalin Ali-Mandza, a 46-year-old immigrant from Gabon, died of a heart attack after medical staff waited nearly an hour to call an ambulance. One of the nurses even chose to prioritize filling out paperwork over dialing 911.

Federal officials have recognized this reality.

In August, the Justice Department concluded that private prisons “compare poorly” to federally run prisons and directed the Bureau of Prisons to begin phasing out its private prison contracts. An expert advisory panel similarly recommended on December 1 that the Department of Homeland Security shift away from its own private prison contracts. As attorney general, Sessions should not be tempted to maintain the status quo and ignore the clear evidence that private prisons do not “work better.”

Publicly traded for-profit prison corporations like CCA and GEO owe a fiduciary duty to their shareholders — the public, the human beings in their custody, and their own employees be damned. And they have demonstrated their priorities time and time again.

In one ACLU case, a federal court found CCA in contempt because the company did not implement court-ordered improvements that would have made the prison safer. The year after a CCA employee was killed in a prison riot, company executives refused to hold a moment of silence in his honor at the annual shareholder meeting. Apparently, trying to mislead the public and escape this record of scandalous behavior, CCA recently rebranded itself “CoreCivic: A Diversified Government Solutions Company.”


Families and communities have suffered terribly from the mass incarceration binge. Yet year after year, the private prison industry and its stockholders have made billions off of this human misery. If implemented, Trump and Sessions’ hardline stances toward criminal justice and immigration have the potential to massively increase federal incarceration and immigration detention rates in the United States. And with direct access to Sessions from his former aides, it seems the private prison industry stands to gain tremendously if he is confirmed as attorney general.

Carl Takei is a Staff Attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project & Katie Egan is with the ALCU Washington Legislative Office

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

    Are For-Profit Prisons, or Public Unions, the Biggest Lobby No One’s Talking About?

    The California prison guards union, for example, poured millions of dollars to influence policy in California alone—it spent $22 million on campaign donations since 1989, more than CCA and GEO have combined, and continues to push for prison expansions. The National Fraternal Order of Police, meanwhile, spent $5 million on lobbying efforts since 1989, more than GEO did. That’s not to mention the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which includes a “Corrections Union” and lobbies on behalf of all kinds of policies that seek to turn citizens into revenue sources for public employees. They’ve spent $187 million on campaign donations since 1989, making a far stronger case to be labeled the biggest lobby nobody’s talking about than private prisons.

  2. Marina Kalugin

    really, who are these kids who have nada clue?

    listen up children..  why do the lifers In CA…live  better than the soldiers in Iraq?   or afhganistan..?

    The MOST corrupt prison unions are in CA..  ..  where more is spent on the “penal system” than on education..

    Perhaps with privatization we can get rid of those over paid thugs.   I mean the guards who run the penal system in CA

    And then spend money where it is needed.. in real education..   🙂

  3. Marina Kalugin

    it depends on the topic Jerry,  BO never closed the guantanomo though he promised and he ejected WAY more latinos than the other presidents put together since the inside job of 9/11..


  4. Tia Will

    I do not believe that the “thugs” employed in private prisons are any better or worse than the “thugs” in public prison unions. In both cases, their livelihoods are dependent upon maximal incarceration.

    I think that it is a total distraction to argue who is the worst culprit, prison guard unions or private prison companies. To argue about who is worse does nothing to address the primary problem which I see as mass incarceration. If there were not too many prisoners, we would not be squabbling over whose living conditions are better, who provides better rehabilitative services, whose medical care and mental health care are better and at what cost.

    Without overcrowding of our prisons based on adjusting the penal codes in favor of mass incarceration even for relatively minor crimes, as we have seen in California, we would not have the Coleman and Plata cases on which the State of California has spent millions of dollars over at least the past 10 years. These cases have meant that money has been spent on seemingly endless litigation that could have been spent on the needed mental and physical health care which would have avoided the need for any litigation to begin with or on education as Marina has noted.

    But since incarceration of a large number of prisoners is a very lucrative business whether you are a community that houses a prison, or whether you are a member of the correctional officers union, or whether you are a  doctor or psychiatrist who is paid top dollar to care for prisoners due to the undesirable working conditions, or whether you are an investor in a private prison corporation, the bottom line remains the same. More prisoners means more money.

    As you are fond of saying Marina, “follow the money and learn the truth”.

  5. Jaroslaw Waszczuk


    What do you think about Jerry Brown vetoing the  bill that would stop privately run migrant detention. It seem that Brown,  Napolitano  , Feinstein and Obama are saint inquisitors or Stalinist who loves Soviet Union style concentration)  camps (GULAGS  for foreigners . Obama and Napolitano construed enormous deportation machine and Jerry Brown is following theirs steps . Jerry Brown is Catholic Jesuit who met  St. Mother Teresa  in India .  He is a  not Catholic . He is a communist or fascist .  Gott Mit Uns. USA is  the country of prisons and gulags for immigrants . 24 millions felons in 15 years and  3 millions deported by democrats -communists. This is sick
    California’s governor vetoed a bill that would stop privately run migrant detention. What now?


  6. Tia Will


    I do not support mass detention or incarceration regardless of who is responsible.

    He is a communist or fascist”

    Come on Jerry. You can do better than this. Both “communist” and “fascist” have specific definitions which aren’t just that they are oppressive and you don’t like them. These are no where nearly the same politically speaking. So which is he ?  And what is your evidence ?

    1. Jaroslaw Waszczuk


      I lived in communist country  and  I was a political prisoner .  I read  that you graduated as a  political scientist that I believe  that you are perfectly aware what I am talking about . Define to  me by your own words how you understand fascism and communism doctrine. (no Wiki )   What is a difference  between these two dictatorships systems  ( Exlude the Hitler and Nazism from  the definition  ). It will give me some insight what did you learn in political science classes .  I know that you are a  smart girl but ………………!

      [moderator] Actually, no. This is off topic.

      1. Tia Will

        I agree with the moderator. However, as an aside, if someone makes an assertion, I believe that it is up to them to provide a clarification when someone requests it, not to attempt to play gotcha word games. Obviously, just my opinion.

  7. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

    Don Shor:

    What  is  your problem  and why did you remove my  statement  .  Nobody , beside me and Tia writing anything  on this subject and you are interfering for no  reason whatsoever .  If you have a  personal problem with me  than  tell me . The  DV now requires subscription and I paid subscription as required . This is not a first time that  you deliberately cutting off  the discussion for no reason and under the false pretenses stating  the discussion is off topic . I appreciate your clarification .


    CC : DG



  8. Tia Will


    I am speaking for neither Don nor David, but for myself as an individual and in this particular portion of this post as a member of the editorial board. Don has a difficult job which he does as a volunteer. Sometimes a comment is clearly on topic and has no attacks or foul language. These he tends to leave as posted. Sometimes a comment is borderline on topic. These he also tends to leave intact. Sometimes there is an offense word or two and he will edit these out. Sometimes a comment is completely off topic and he has been asked to and does remove these. I am sometimes guilty of a little hedging. I will write an on topic portion of a comment and then slip in some side or very peripherally related opinion. We had strayed off the specific topic of incarceration and that was factual, not a “pretense”. I was as culpable as you were in this but it is a judgement call on when to draw the line and Don has not spared me from deleting my posts either on other threads.

    I would however like to make a clarification of my position on detention and imprisonment. I believe that the detention/imprisonment of any individual should occur only when that individual poses a direct and immediatae threat to the physical or economic well being of another individual or individuals. It should never occur because of actions that affect only the perpetrator. I do not believe that people should ever be detained for drug use alone ( unless they are at risk due to extreme inebriation/intoxication), or for homelessness, or for exercising their right to peaceful free speech or protest. I do not believe that journalists or peaceful organizers and activists should be detained or incarcerated.

    I believe that those in political power of all persuasions :democratic, fascist, communist, dictatorial systems whether supported by royal,  dynastic  or religious claim or installed by a powerful military have used detention/imprisonment of their opponents for either suppression of the opposition or the development of a slave labor class or both. I am in equal opposition to all such forms of oppression. I really do not care at all what the society chooses to call itself. It is the action that is definitively immoral, not the politics of either the oppressor or the oppressed.

    Don please feel free to leave intact, edit, or remove as you see fit.

  9. Tia Will

    Pertinent to this discussion, the confirmation hearing for Senator Jeff Sessions is now underway and is being covered by live blog on both The Atlantic and Slate for anyone who is interested in following along.

    1. Howard P

      Also major cable news… w/o commentary… saw the first pieces… the chair seemed to be of the impression that it was a hearing to establish ‘sainthood’ rather than AG… Feinstein stopped short of painting him as “the devil incarnate”… gamesmanship…

    2. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

      The title of the Carl Takei  & Katie Egan article states:”  Trump and Sessions: Great for the Private Prison Industry, Terrible for Civil Rights. The  article’s  title indicates , implies and bashing Trump and Session that they are don’t care about the  people civil rights. This how we got to the communism and fascism because the  “American reds or left “ constantly and notoriously  labeling Trump and some his nominees as fascists, Jew haters , racists and whatever is convenient to promote communism in this country under the umbrella of liberalism  democracy and falsely under the First Amendment  . I heard this before in my life . The communist system in the communist Poland where I lived for 30 years was re-labeled as a Socialist Democracy and communist party was named as Polish United Workers Party with 35 million deplorable ( Hillary Clinton’s language)
      Attaching Trump and to violation of civil rights in relation to the private prisons and the  detention  because Trump  won election is the taste of the classic communist propaganda. It happened that not Trump but Obama build the system of detention centers  and whole sophisticated   deportation machine but Trump  trump is being accused  of the civil rights violations . It happened that American labor union supporting private prisons and the  Governor of the most lefty state , California, vetoed the bill vetoed a bill that would stop privately run migrant detention centers  and hired crooked and contempt  Eric Holder to defend him and his cronies from Trump. Defend from what ? Jerry  Brown must be be worry that Trump will close the detention centers in California and California economy and labor  unions  members will suffer ?  
      Your statement:

                I believe that those in political power of all persuasions :democratic, fascist, communist, dictatorial systems whether supported by royal,  dynastic  or religious claim or installed by a powerful military have used detention/imprisonment of their opponents for either suppression of the opposition or the development of a slave labor class or both. I am in equal opposition to all such forms of oppression. I really do not care at all what the society chooses to call itself. It is the action that is definitively immoral, not the politics of either the oppressor or the oppressed.

      is a general statement about what yours believes are . However , the article is about  the Trump’s and Session’s  who are being targeted by the accusations of committing the crimes they never committed and they  never build any prison or detention center. You are the leading writer and tuner on the DV than making statements like “ Don please feel free to leave intact, edit, or remove as you see fit.” makes me feel that you trying to make me more Polish than I am. Tia. Just please answer my simple question how you as political educated scientist understand what is difference between the communism and fascism than maybe it will lead us to conclusion if Trump and Session is TERRIBLE FOR THE CIVIL RIGHTS IN OBAMA’s  BUILD PRIONS AND DETENTION CENTERS. This is the reason why  I am asking you to answer  my simple without elaborating what you do  believe or you do  not believe.  


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