From the January 11 edition of MSNBC's Live with Ali Velshi:
ALI VELSHI (HOST): Today's meeting comes nearly a year after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era order to phase out private prisons. So, let's take a look at prisons and private prisons in the United States. This is the most heavily incarcerated country in the world. There are currently there are more than two million Americans behind bars, more than any other country. And this includes people locked up in state, local, and private prisons. Now, of this number, 2.1 million, more than 128,000 are held in private facilities, not government facilities. And keeping all of these individuals locked up means huge business for private prisons. According to one estimate, for-profit prisons are a $5 billion industry. There are two major for-profit prison companies in the United States. CoreCivic and The GEO Group. Combined, the two manage the overwhelming majority of private prison contracts in the United States. Now, we should note that both companies donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Trump campaign.
I've never been able to get my head out of this: prisons for profit is a perverse incentive. I'm a business journalist. I think that there should be lots of things for profit. But if you're profiting off of prisons, you're benefiting from there being more people in prisons for a longer amount of time.
LAUREN-BROOK EISEN (Brennan Center for Justice): Well, that's exactly what this book explores. It explores the history of mass incarceration, the history of the privatization of the justice system, and you're right. You just spoke about those figures. Today we have about eight percent of incarcerated individuals at the state level in these private prisons. About 18 percent at the federal level and something a lot of your viewers might be very surprised at is that 65 percent of immigrant detainees in Department of Homeland Security detention centers are actually in private facilities, and that's a huge boon to the private prison industry under the Trump administration.