To Address Overcrowding, California To Transfer Prisoners To Michigan
Federal courts have spoken out against overcrowding in California's prisons, forcing the nation's largest corrections system to send 10,000 inmates to private prisons elsewhere.
GEO Group Inc., which landed the contract to house California prisoners in Michigan, has spent more than $285,000 on lobbying in California since the current legislative session opened in January 2009, according to data from the California Secretary of State's website and the National Institute for Money in State Politics.
Corrections Corp. of America has spent nearly $340,000 over that same period for lobbying efforts in the state to land a contract that could be worth 20 times that figure. The Associated Press reports the company is hoping to house another 2,400 California inmates for $600 million over two years. Those inmates would go to Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
CCA has come under serious scrutiny during the last week after NPR revealed that the company was the architect of Arizona's controversial illegal immigration law, SB 1070. More prisoners, more money was the basic formula behind their operation.
In California, Corrections Corp. of America lobbied against a bill that would “urge various state and private entities to withhold financial support of Arizona businesses” as a response to the Arizona law.
And the company contributed funds to defeat Proposition 19, perhaps realizing that legalizing marijuana would mean less prisoners.
The company has also done heavy lobbying in Florida, whose troubled prison system is the nation's third largest. However, CCA has dedicated about a third of its lobbying activity in 2010 to California—more than any other state.
“CCA is responsible for about 75,000 inmates in 19 states and in the federal system. GEO is responsible for almost 50,000 inmates in 10 states, the federal system and in other countries,” according to a report out of Florida in April.
CCA donated at least $75,000 to campaigns of legislators, gubernatorial and attorney general candidates in California this election cycle.
Overall, spending for influence by the corrections industry has declined in the last decade. A decrease in competitors may have contributed to that trend.