For Private Prisons, Detaining Immigrants Is Big Business

Thomas W. Beasley had something for sale, and figured he could market it the same as any other merchandise. “You just sell it like you were selling cars or real estate or hamburgers,” he told an interviewer.

That was three decades ago. Only Mr. Beasley wasn’t hawking new wheels, beachfront property or beef patties. His stock in trade was prison bars. As a co-founder of Corrections Corporation of America in 1983, and with a get-tough-on-crime spirit ascendant in the country, he sold lockup space to federal and state governments that were jailing people faster than they could find room in their own institutions.


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