Turning prisons into big business
Private prisons are becoming big business around the world, including Australia. Two of the big operators down under are Group 4 from the UK and Corrections Corporations Australia, which is believed to be a subsidiary of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). In the United States, which currently has the world's largest prison population of around 2.2 million inmates, private operators are opening new prisons at the rate of three, 500-bed facilities per month. CCA is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and you can now even trade (gamble) in prison futures. A spokesperson for CCA recently said he expects the prison population in the US to reach 5 million within 10 years. These private prisons have the potential to have a considerable impact on workers and the local economies where they operate. A major computer hardware manufacturer based in Oregon took up the offer of relocating their factory to a prison in Arizona. To do so they sacked 500 workers who were paid around $15 an hour and trained 500 prisoners to do the same work at $2 an hour. The company CEO praised the deal because the company no longer had to pay superannuation, insurance or health care costs. The rental for the prison factory was $1 per year! The same CEO said it was much better than going to a third world country because (... at least everyone here speaks English). As they say, it's a brave new world out there and it may be coming to your neighbourhood soon.