As the Correction's Corporation of America (CCA)—the nation's oldest and largest private prison operator—rings in a hallmark anniversary, protesters Tuesday are rallying in Washington DC to declare that there is nothing to celebrate about "30 years of profiting from pain."
The protest is the start of a week of action against CCA, which is marking thirty years in the private prison business by celebrating with parties at facilities, a trivia contest, and—as Bob Lidal of the group Grassroots Leadership puts it—"a general giddiness that makes one a bit ill."
The ACLU along with other rights groups and the Public Safety and Justice Campaign are protesting with a series of "counter-celebrations" to assert to CCA and other beneficiaries of the incarceration system that "30 years of profit from pain is nothing to celebrate."
On Tuesday, organizers along with civil rights leaders, people of faith, criminal justice reform groups and immigrant rights organizations are holding a rally and press conference outside CCA’s Correctional Treatment Facility in downtown Washington DC.
"The emergence of [CCA] as a leading prison profiteer is a result of a thoughtful promulgation of laws and policies on a federal and state level," said the ACLU in a statement which argued that such these efforts—many of them actively pushed by the private prison industry—have resulted in tremendous profits for CCA while simultaneously generating a trend of mass incarceration for huge numbers of African Americans, immigrants, and similarly vulnerable populations across the country.
Tough-on-crime sentencing policies in the 1980s included the expansion of mandatory sentencing, three strikes policies and abolishing parole on the federal level. Through tactics like pushing for minimum occupancy guarantees in its prisons, CCA has both contributed to and benefited from this explosion in incarceration.
Further, a number of studies demonstrate that for-profit prisons like CCA are more dangerous and have higher levels of violence than public prisons. The ACLU cites a recent study which found in one state assault rates in private prisons were two to three times higher than state-run prisons.
Following Tuesday's action in DC, a series protests are scheduled at CCA facilities in Arizona and Tennessee, culminating at a May 16th shareholder meeting in Nashville.
Ahead of the protests, Grassroots Leadership released a series of video testimonials from people explaining why they believe CCA's anniversary is an occasion to "mourn" rather than celebrate.
The ACLU will be tweeting live from Tuesday's protest and press conference.