RELEASE: The Power of Private Prison Lobbying Is Paying Off as Trump’s Executive Order Rewards Private Prison Campaign Donors With Billions, Says CAP Column

Washington, D.C. — The administration will dole out billions of federal taxpayer dollars to for-profit companies in order to implement President Donald Trump’s executive order, according to a new CAP column. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing to add 15,000 beds at an annual cost of more than $2 billion, or $5.6 million per day, to detain families—a sixfold expansion of current family detention capacity.

The unprecedented expansion of resources to jail families seeking asylum represents the entire cost of President Trump’s FY 2019 detention bed budget. The biggest winners will likely be the largest private prison companies, including GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic—which have donated large sums of money to President Trump and members of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

What’s worse is that private prison companies routinely provide substandard care, failing to adhere to detention standards around health care; prevent and respond to sexual assault; protect LGBT people from abuse; provide sufficient nutritious food; and enable access to legal services. Inadequate medical care was a contributing factor in half of the deaths that occurred in these detention centers.

“With a significant return on investment, it’s safe to say that the power of private prison lobbying is paying off,” said Sharita Gruberg, associate director of CAP’s LGBT Research and Communications Project. “Rather than waste taxpayer dollars to reward private prison companies, the Trump administration should protect children from the trauma of family separation and family incarceration.”

The column recommends the use of alternatives to detention and barring members of Congress who decide which contracts will be awarded from accepting contributions from special interests. This would help to ensure, for example, that private prison companies are not unduly influencing the appropriations process.

Read the column: “Trump’s Executive Order Rewards Private Prison Campaign Donors” by Sharita Gruberg

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For more information or to speak with an expert on this topic, please contact Rafael J. Medina at rjmedina@americanprogress.org or 202.478.5313.