Staff Attorney, ACLU National Prison Project
The imprisonment of human beings at record levels is both a moral failure and an economic one — especially at a time when state governments confront enormous fiscal crises caused largely by bloated and unnecessary prison spending. But mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for one special interest group: the private prison industry. As current incarceration levels harm the nation as a whole, for-profit prisons obtain taxpayer dollars in ever greater amounts. Private prison executives, meanwhile, bring in multi-million dollar compensation packages.