Bill Ackman's Presentation on Corrections Corp of America (CXW) @ the Value Investing Congress
Much has been written about the business aspect of prisons, and especially on privatization. The broader context is discussed in Nils Christie's Crime Control as Industry, which defines the prison system as a mechanism of "depersonalized pain delivery". A more personal-political statement, highlighting racial differences as well as the economic angle, can be found in Angela Davis' The Prison Industrial Complex. For our purposes, this is an important discussion to have when policymakers are contemplating contracts with CCA for out-of-state institutions as overcrowding relief. The question is whether it is accurate to see Bill Ackman's cost-benefit calculation as proof of an intentional conspiracy to keep the prison industry alive and well. And if so, who's in on the conspiracy?
My sense is that a more subtle and nuanced description will do better. While CDCR employment depends on prisons, not all CDCR employees cynically hope for overcrowded prisons. If anything, CCPOA decry prison overcrowding, if only because it makes the correctional staff's job more difficult. Yes, there are those who make profit off the size of our correctional apparatus. But it's important to distinguish actors with financial interests from actors within large bureaucracies who operate out of inertia, and some of whom probably rejoice in the news of population decline.
cross-posted on PrawfsBlawg.