Private Prison Charges Inmates $5 A Minute For Phone Calls While They Work For $1 A Day


Written by Amanda Peterson Beadle, ThinkProgress

Last year the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, received $74 million of taxpayers’ money to run immigration detention centers. Their largest facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, receives $200 a night for each of the 2,000 detainees it holds, and rakes in yearly profits between $35 million and $50 million.

Prisoners held in this remote facility depend on the prison’s phones to communicate with their lawyers and loved ones. Exploiting inmates’ need, CCA charges detainees here $5 per minute to make phone calls. Yet the prison only pays inmates who work at the facility $1 a day. At that rate, it would take five days to pay for just one minute.

Watch this report on the conditions Stewart detainees face:

CCA’s abuse doesn’t stop at outrageously priced phone services. One woman reported that her diabetic husband does not receive enough food, so she has to deposit money for him to buy more. Occupy Nashville recently protested outside of the company by holding a “human auction” to illustrate how CCA profits off of human suffering.

As Alternet points out, in the past few years, CCA has spent $14.8 million “lobbying for anti-immigration laws to ensure they have continuous access to fresh inmates and keep their money racket going.” Recent anti-immigration laws in Alabama and Georgia keep their facilities full and CCA profits high.

Since more prisoners translate into more profit, private prisons like CCA continually push lawmakers to enact harsher policies and longer sentences, according to a report by Justice Policy Institute (JPI).

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


Related Stories:

New Report Lifts Lid on Private Prison Industry

Let Them Eat Nothing — No Lunch for Prisoners

“Kids For Cash” Judge Sentenced to 28 Years


Photo from Kevin H. via flickr

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William Y.
William Y.4 years ago

@ Jeffrey W. The point is that prisons should not be privatized. They should not be profit making corporations. profit making corporations are fine if the corporation makes cars, computers, clothing, beer etc. But profit making prisons, no to much chance of corruption.

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W.4 years ago

Prison isn't supposed to be fun. And there is nothing at all wrong with for profit corporations making a profit. That's sort of the point.

Terri B.
Terri B.4 years ago

it's a prison!! not a resort, not a health club, not a vacation spot - PRISON!!! people are there for a reason!!! if they think they have it so bad, they ought to go to prisons in mexico and third world countries. bet they'd be singing a different tune, then!!! so what if they get charged $5.00 to use the phone - they're damn lucky they can even do that!!! prisoners in the united states are spoiled assholes. they have a sense of entitlement, that the government owes them something!! if the dumb shits didn't break the law, they wouldn't be in prison. stupid, ignorant people.

Diane L.
Diane L.4 years ago

Well said, Shannon. I guess I have a problem figuring out why prisoners are even given access to phones in the first place. What happened to letters and lawyers visiting them "in house"? So WHAT if they have to pay $5 for a minute? Ever get a collect call? Around here, even in the "County" jail, inmates don't get free phone calls. They have to call COLLECT and it can be $3 - $7/minute to whoever accepts the charges. The lock-up isn't "club med", so whatever got them there in the first place, well????????? They get a free phone call when arrested, to whomever they want to call. If they waste it on their drug dealer, that's their call. If they want to call their attorney, again, 1st one is free. Now, if it takes 5 days to earn enough money to make a phone call to one's girlfriend, then I don't have an issue with that. Some people on the "outside" can't afford to even have a phone. Go to a payphone and it's a minimum of $1 to even call for help if one has to make such a call from the side of the road. Guess how long you get to talk for $1?

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Shannon G.
Shannon G.4 years ago

I have been inappropriately wasting my time worrying about the thousands of people who cannot afford to feed their family, millions without health insurance, kids going hungry, animals being abused and killed, genocide in 3rd world countrys....I must be cease these unfounded concerns and my desire to help those less fortunate to make sure drug dealers, murders, pedophiles, thieves, and abusers get a better phone rate and food! I am clearly barking up the wrong tree with who I should be worried about, thanks for bringing this to my attention!

Bruce S.
Bruce S.4 years ago

PRIVATE prison companies should be OUTLAWED! Prisons should only be allowed to be operated by the government itself and not farmed out to PROFIT MAKING private companies. Private companies shouldn't be allowed to have the same immunities that governments can assert in lawsuits.

Sahar Walid
Sahar Walid4 years ago

Apologies for the typo, what I meant was that
"it is quite possible that they will leave the prison with newer bad ideas and associations".

Sahar Walid
Sahar Walid4 years ago

Yes, they may be criminals but they are humans too. And humans need human contact to remain sane. Such harsh rates will keep these prisoners away from their families which means far from hope to quit all criminal activity and return to normal life. When all day long they chat away with other criminal minded people, it is not quite possible that they will leave the prison with newer bad ideas and associations.

Catherine O Neill

If you can't do the time don't do the crime.