As cities and states are recognizing the problem of mass incarceration, there has been a wave of reform focused on reducing prison populations and pursuing alternatives to incarceration. For-profit prison corporations have taken note of the changing tide and adapted their business practices. These same companies have rebranded themselves as reentry centers, mental health providers, and community corrections centers. Unfortunately, despite the new marketing ploy, their priority is still making profits. The result is net widening—instead of true alternatives to incarceration we are seeing more alternative forms of incarceration, such as electronic monitoring and pseudo-prisons which keep individuals in secure settings even after their release. AFSC-AZ is working with national partners to bring awareness to this issue and stop private companies from hijacking the movement to end mass incarceration.
What Is the TIC?
The Treatment Industrial Complex (TIC) is the movement of for-profit prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group away from managing prisons and into market segments more oriented toward treatment and rehabilitation, including:
- In-prison medical and mental health care
- Forensic mental hospitals and civil commitment centers
- Community corrections, such as diversion, re-entry programs, and “alternatives to incarceration” like electronic monitoring
While the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) is dependent on incarceration or detention in prisons, jails, and other correctional institutions, the TIC now allows the same corporations to profit from housing of people with mental illnesses in facilities that had originally been intended as a therapeutic environment, such as state hospitals or civil commitment centers. Companies stand to profit from expanding their purview beyond the management of prisons and jails to supervision and surveillance of people on parole or probation and formerly incarcerated people, potentially infiltrating all segments of the criminal justice system.
What’s Wrong with the TIC?
The for-profit business model is at odds with the goals of treatment and rehabilitation. In order to make a profit, these companies cut corners—most often in the area of staff pay and training. The same patterns of neglect and abuse we have seen in privately operated prisons are now being observed in the TIC—warehousing, medical neglect, abuse, violence, escapes, and mismanagement. In the end, these companies are dependent on ever-increasing numbers of people cycling through the system (or languishing in it) in order to keep profits high.
The profitization of community corrections poses a serious threat to the movement to end mass incarceration. Due to their extensive economic and political influence, corporations such as GEO and CCA are able to exploit reform efforts for their own financial gain. They can out-compete smaller, community-based service providers for contracts. In addition, their extensive lobbying and campaign contributions are being leveraged to influence the direction of sentencing reform efforts and other policy decisions at the state and federal levels.
The pursuit of profit undermines the movement’s goals of shrinking the size and scope of the criminal punishment system. While the best practices in the area of community corrections emphasize tailoring interventions to provide the lowest level of security or surveillance necessary for the shortest amount of time, the incentive for private prison companies is to “widen the net” of people under ever-increasing levels of control.
THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO STOP THE TIC:
- Share the video:The more people are aware of this trend the sooner we can stop it. Please post the video link to your facebook page, tweet about it, email to your lists, and talk it up. Use the hashtag, #no2tic in your postings.
- Private prison companies rebranding to take over treatment and “alternatives” #no2tic StopTIC.org
- Treatment Industrial Complex threatens to undermine movement to end mass incarceration #no2tic StopTIC.org
- Private prison companies now want contracts to provide “alternatives to incarceration” #no2tic StopTIC.org
- Divest:Many private prison companies are publicly traded on the US Stock Exchange. Your IRA or 401 K might be investing in mutual funds that include these companies. You can scan your portfolio via AFSC’s InvestiGate website to find out if your money is helping to support this immoral industry: afsc.org/investigate
- GET INVOLVED!Join AFSC’s campaign to end the Treatment Industrial Complex! Sign up for regular updates and action alerts HERE.
For more information on state based and cross-regional campaigns against the Treatment Industrial Complex, please check out our partner organizations:
Grassroots Leadership, Austin, TX: http://grassrootsleadership.org/programs/treatment-industrial-complex
Southern Center for Human Rights, Atlanta, GA: https://www.schr.org/our-work/debtors-prisons/private-probation
Reports on the TIC:
Treatment Industrial Complex: How For-Profit Prison Corporations Are Undermining Efforts to Treat and Rehabilitate Prisoners for Corporate Gain The first report in the series describes the TIC and its three main segments.
Incorrect Care: A Prison Profiteer Turns Care into Confinement details the privatization of state forensic mental hospitals and civil commitment centers–facilities that represent the potential for lifetime confinement and long-term guaranteed profit.
Community Cages: Profitizing Community Corrections and Alternatives to Incarceration describes how the for-profit industry is moving to take advantage of the fact that nearly 2/3 of the people involved in the criminal justice system are NOT held in prison or jail (almost 5 million people). They are on probation or parole, or some form of community supervision. This represents a huge untapped market for profiteers.
These reports substantiate concerns that when for-profit private prison corporations gain access to these services, the quality of services and staff decrease. These companies have dismal records in terms of safety, cost, and quality, mainly because they cut corners on staff pay, training and services in order to make a profit.
Private prison corporations are financially dependent on the growth of supervised populations, providing a perverse incentive not to rehabilitate. The financial incentive leads them to keep people in custody or under some form of state supervision for as long as possible at the highest per diem rate possible in order to maximize profits.