Initiative Exposes Private Prison Corporation’s Financial Stake in Mass Incarceration, Mismanagement of Facilities

April 15, 2014

Contact: Lindsay Kee, communications director; (615) 320-7142

NASHVILLE – In an effort to increase public awareness about special interest groups with a stake in mass incarceration, the ACLU of Tennessee today launched the “Who Is CCA?” campaign. This public education initiative focuses on the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. With over sixty correctional facilities across the country, including six in Tennessee, CCA is the nation’s oldest and largest for-profit prison company.

“The Corrections Corporation of America has taken over prisons in Tennessee and across the country promising to run them better and cheaper,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director. “But they’ve broken their promises time and again, using our tax dollars to fund facilities where corporate profit trumps accountability.”

CCA is currently under criminal investigation by the FBI after admitting in court to falsifying 4,800 hours of guard posts required under an Idaho contract. An independent auditor found that CCA failed to fill at least 26,000 hours of required posts in 2012 alone, for an average of 500 hours per week of missing security staff. CCA continued to collect payments from the state for guards who were never assigned to work, while the facility in question amassed four times the number of prisoner-on-prisoner assaults than the state‘s seven other prisons combined. The Idaho Department of Corrections identified inadequate staffing as the primary cause of the violence.

In a 2012 audit, the Tennessee Comptroller’s office found that a “recurring issue was apparent” at CCA facilities with Department of Corrections staff noting several noncompliance issues “due to CCA staff not entering information, not entering information in a timely manner, entering inaccurate information, and/or entering insufficient information” into the system for managing inmate data.

In addition to mismanagement, evidence of cost-savings in private prisons is mixed at best. Numerous studies have found no cost advantage to private prisons. Tennessee pays CCA nearly $97 million annually, including contractual obligations to pay the corporation for empty beds.

The “Who Is CCA?” campaign’s focal point is an online resource center housing an infographic, statistical information, a video, a policy report, a petition urging the state of Tennessee to end CCA contracts, blog posts and other resources. The campaign is launching online.

The campaign also illuminates the millions of dollars CCA spends on lobbying and political contributions, as well as litigation to ensure that it is not subject to the same open-records laws as publicly-run prisons. In Securities and Exchange Commission filings, CCA identifies threats to its bottom line as “reductions in crime rates,” lower minimum sentences for non-violent crime and cost-saving measures such as greater use of probation and electronic monitoring.

“Taxpayers need to know how CCA’s profit motive encourages the company to cut corners and get more prison contracts that discourage sensible reforms,” Weinberg stated. “CCA has repeatedly broken its promise to run prisons better and cheaper because in the end its duty is to the shareholders, not the taxpayers.”

ACLU-TN’s “Who Is CCA?” campaign resource center can be found here.

The “Who Is CCA?” infographic can be found here.

To sign the petition urging Tennessee to end its contracts with CCA, please visit: