Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Helping to Make Money for the Private Prison Industry

PrisonCellSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

In the Public Interest (ITPI), which describes itself as “a comprehensive resource center on privatization and responsible contracting,” released a report this month titled CRIMINAL: How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations. The report provides information about “the prevalence of prison occupancy guarantee provisions in prison privatization contracts.” ITPI said that it had “identified 77 county and state-level private facilities nationwide and collected and analyzed 62 contracts from these facilities.” Of the contracts that ITPI reviewed, 65% contained occupancy requirements that ranged between 80% and 100%–with 90% being the most frequent quota guarantee.

ITPI found that the states of Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Virginia were locked into contracts with the highest occupancy guarantee requirements. All four states had quotas requiring an occupancy rate between 95% and 100%.

Here are some state-specific findings from the report:

Colorado: Though crime has dropped by a third in the past decade, an occupancy requirement covering three for-profit prisons has forced taxpayers to pay an additional $2 million.

Arizona: Three Arizona for-profit prison contracts have a staggering 100% quota, even though a 2012 analysis from Tucson Citizen shows that the company’s per-day charge for each prisoner has increased an average of 13.9% over the life of the contracts.

Ohio: A 20-year deal to privately operate the Lake Erie Correctional Institution includes a 90% quota, and has contributed to cutting corners on safety, including overcrowding, areas without secure doors and an increase in crime both inside the prison and the surrounding community.

What do the occupancy quotas mean for the people who live in the counties and states that enter into these contracts with for-profit prison corporations? The quotas can put tax payers “on the hook” for required payments due the corporations when occupancy levels fall below those agreed upon in the contracts. ITPI refers to these payments as a “low-crime tax.” In other words, taxpayers are—in effect—made responsible for guaranteeing profits for private prison corporations if there are too many empty prison cells.

Let’s look at an example from the state of Arizona:

In July of 2010, three violent inmates escaped from a privately run prison. Their escape led to a multi-state manhunt. “It took more than two weeks for authorities to apprehend two of the escapees, both of whom were subsequently charged in connection with the carjacking and murder of an Oklahoma couple who were driving through New Mexico.”

After that experience, corrections officials in Arizona stopped sending any new inmates to the 3,300-bed facility—which they described as “dysfunctional.” But, less than a year after the escape, Management & Training Corp., which is responsible for running the prison, threatened to sue the state of Arizona. You see, a “line in their contract guaranteed that the prison would remain 97 percent full.” The private prison company claimed that it had lost close to $10 million because of the reduced inmate population in its prison. What did the state do then? Why, officials renegotiated the contract—and ended up paying Management & Training Corp. “$3 million for empty beds as the company continued to address problems” at its prison facility.

Some experts have argued that the contracted quotas “create an incentive for policymakers to focus on filling empty prison beds, as opposed to pursuing long-term policy changes, such as sentencing reform, that could significantly reduce prison populations. In short, many states are effectively obligated to continue to incarcerate people regardless of crime rates and public safety needs, or otherwise hand over taxpayer dollars in order to satisfy private profit-making companies.”

Michele Deitch, a senior lecturer and criminal justice expert at the University of Texas School of Public Affairs and someone who has researched the rise of private prisons, said, “It’s really shortsighted public policy to do anything that ties the hands of the state. If there are these incentives to keep the private prisons full, then it is reducing the likelihood that states will adopt strategies to reduce prison costs by keeping more people out. When the beds are there, you don’t want to leave them empty.”

Is it any wonder that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, the two largest private prison companies in this country, have been involved in pushing for a number of criminal justice policies—including mandatory minimum sentences, California’s three-strikes law, and continuing the War on Drugs—“that increase the number of inmates who enter and stay in prison.” ITPI reported that CCA and GEO Group have also contributed to legislation—“like Arizona Senate Bill 1070, requiring law enforcement to arrest anyone who cannot prove they entered the country legally when asked.” Legislation such as Arizona’s 1070 will most likely help to increase the number of detainees in privately-run federal immigration detention centers.

It appears that the private prison industry is aware that a harsh criminal justice system is beneficial to its business. Following is a statement from CCA’s 2010 annual report:

The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior. Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly, reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.

In 2006, The Institute for Money in State Politics published a report titled Policy Lockdown: Prison Interests Court Political Players. The report speaks of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as a “long-time proponent of privatization and stricter sentences…”–and says the organization “was instrumental in pushing get-tough-on-crime laws.” Model legislation that ALEC provided to legislators included three-strikes bills—as well as “truth-in-sentencing” bills that required convicted criminals to serve a set length of time before being eligible for parole. ITPI said that CCA helped “craft” that legislation “when it was a member of ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force.”

US Private prisons want you

We have been told that privatizing prisons is supposed to save counties and states money. It seems that’s a hard thing to do when elected officials sign contracts with private prison companies that require the counties and states to maintain extremely high inmate occupancy rates.

Who should be responsible for determining what our criminal justice policies should be? For-profit private prison companies. ALEC? What do you think?


This Is How Private Prison Companies Make Millions Even When Crime Rates Fall (Mother Jones)

CRIMINAL: How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes”Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations (In the Public Interest)

Report says private prison contracts with states guarantee high inmate occupancy (Arizona Daily Star)

Private purchasing of prisons locks in occupancy rates (USA Today)

Prison Quotas Push Lawmakers To Fill Beds, Derail Reform (Huffington Post)

Policy Lockdown: Prison Interests Court Political Players (The Institute on Money in State Politics)

GAMING THE SYSTEM: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies (Justice Policy Institute, 2001)

Cell-Out Arizona Exclusive: Documents Show Arizona Officials Knew Private Prisons Weren’t Saving Money (TusconCitizen.com)

Private Prisons Cost Arizona $3.5 Million More Per Year Than State-Run Prisons (ThinkProgress)

Private Prison Contracts Are Forcing States To Pay For Empty Beds (Business Insider)

Privatization Nightmare: 5 Public Services That Should Never Be Handed Over to Greedy Corporations. Why we all pay more when essential services are privatized. (AlterNet)

Private Prisons Found to Offer Little in Savings (New York Times)

The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor: Years after ALEC’s Truth In Sentencing bills became the law of the land, its Prison Industries Act has quietly expanded prison labor across the country. (The Nation)

School-to-Prison Pipeline (ACLU)

Pennsylvania rocked by ‘jailing kids for cash’ scandal (CNN)

Why is the Private Prison Industry in Our Schools? (Occupy.com)

Corrections Corporation of America Used in Drug Sweeps of Public School Students (The Center for Media and Democracy’s PRWatch)

Florida To Completely Privatize Juvenile Correctional Facilities (Huffington Post)

48 thoughts on “Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Helping to Make Money for the Private Prison Industry

  1. Elaine,

    Here’s two things from Ohio ACLU on this important topic:


    “After substantial public outcry, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) reduced the amount of planned power outages in nearly all state prisons. Unfortunately, if there is another heat wave, ODRC could easily begin shutting down the power again. The health and safety of prison staff and incarcerated Ohioans is more important than whatever amount ODRC collects from power companies. The ACLU will continue to push for ODRC to end its profit-over-safety contract with power companies.”

  2. From the article above: ““Two facilities will close in Texas, but there are many more private prisons to close before our job is done, “ said Kymberlie Quong Charles of Grassroots Leadership, which coordinates a national campaign against for-profit prisons. “This victory gives us tremendous hope and momentum, though. Texas is the birthplace of the modern private prison industry. If we can get the Texas legislature to agree that private facilities are not working for our state, that’s good news for the national movement against for-profit prisons.”

    “The primary goal of executives at private prisons is to maximize profits for shareholders, not promote public safety, “ said Terri Burke, Excutive Director of the ACLU of Texas. “The closure of two private prisons will be a victory for Texas taxpayers who subsidize these operations and for inmates who must suffer the poor conditions and corruption prevalent at these facilities.”

    Michelle Smith, a prisoner advocate with the Texas Civil Rights Project said, “It violates everyone’s civil rights and it’s unconstitutional when private, for-profit companies like CCA cut corners and provide inadequate care. It also leaves the state open to lawsuits when tragedies happen, like the deaths of the women at Dawson. The state has made the right decision to shut down privately operated facilities.”

  3. Swarthmore mom,

    Thanks for the link.


    Texas Pays for Private Prisons while Thousands of Beds in Public Prisons are Empty
    By Matt Bewig

    Thousands of beds sit empty in Texas state prisons, while the state pays $123 million a year to lease beds from private prisons, including Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the biggest of the private prison operators. Specifically, there are as many as 10,000 empty beds in Texas’s 111 state prisons, and hundreds of empty slots at the state’s six detention centers for teens, according to Texas state Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire (D-Houston).

    The new data come on top of last spring’s investigation by the Austin American-Statesman, which revealed that more than 30,000 of the state’s 93,000 county jail beds were vacant because of “declining crime rates, government budget cuts and increased use of treatment programs” which “deflated a 20-year boom in building jails and prisons.” Many Texas counties spent millions to build large jails to house not only prisoners awaiting trial, but also convicted state inmates serving time.

    “We’re spending millions of dollars to maintain bricks and mortar we don’t need,” complained Whitmire. “We’ve got to quit, once and for all, running these facilities just because they’re there for economic development purposes,” Whitmire said. “We need to use taxpayers’ money to fight crime, on the public safety priorities of this state, rather than just on bricks and mortar that in some cases we don’t need.”

    Whitmire asked pointed questions at a legislative hearing about why Texas is leasing thousands of prison beds from private prisons while state facilities sit empty. He wants to close two facilities run by CCA under contract: the 2,100-bed Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility and the 2,200-bed Dawson State Jail in Dallas.

  4. Imagine living in a country where prisons are private corporations that profit from keeping their beds stocked at, or near, capacity and the governing officials scramble to meet contractual “lockup quotas.” Imagine that taxpayers would have to pay for any empty beds should crime rates fall below that quota. Surprise! You already live there.

    A new report from In the Public Interest (ITPI) revealed last week that private prison companies are striking deals with states that contain clauses guaranteeing high prison occupancy rates. The report, “Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and ‘Low-Crime Taxes’ Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations,” documents the contracts exchanged between private prison companies and state and local governments that either guarantee prison occupancy rates (essentially creating inmate lockup quotas) or force taxpayers to pay for empty beds if the prison population decreases due to lower crime rates or other factors (essentially creating low-crime taxes).

    Some of these contracts require 90 to 100 percent prison occupancy.

    In a letter to 48 state governors in 2012, the largest for-profit private prison company in the US, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), offered to buy up and operate public state prisons. In exchange, states would have to sign a 20-year contract guaranteeing a 90 percent occupancy rate throughout the term.

    While no state accepted CCA’s offer, a number of private prison companies have been inserting similar occupancy guarantee provisions into prison privatization contracts and requiring states to maintain high occupancy rates within their privately owned prisons. Three privately run prisons in Arizona have contracts that require 100 percent inmate occupancy, so the state is obligated to keep its prisons filled to capacity. Otherwise it has to pay the private company for any unused beds.
    The report notes that contract clauses like this incentivize criminilization, and do nothing to promote rehabilitation, crime reduction or community building.http://www.salon.com/2013/09/23/6_shocking_revelations_about_how_private_prisons_make_money_partner/singleton/

  5. ALEC, For-Profit Criminal Justice, and Wisconsin
    by Brendan Fischer
    July 18, 2011

    ALEC Alumni Scott Walker and For-Profit Prisons

    Current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was a proud ALEC member when he was in the state legislature. Among the ALEC bills he introduced were “truth in sentencing” and several ALEC-inspired bills to privatize the state’s prison system; these bills had been approved by the ALEC Criminal Justice Task Force (of which the for-profit prison company Corrections Corporation of America is a member, and at times the co-chair). Since taking office, Governor Walker has continued to push these ALEC-supported “criminal justice” efforts.

    In 1997, then-Representative Walker introduced (and the legislature passed) the ALEC “truth in sentencing” act, which requires inmates serve their full sentence without options for parole or supervised release. The law takes away incentives for prisoners to reduce prison time through good behavior and participation in counseling, and eliminates the ability for judges and parole boards to decide that the financial and social costs of keeping a particular person incarcerated no longer furthers public safety goals. The state estimated that the first 21 months after the law took effect would require 990 inmates to spend 18,384 additional months in jail, costing taxpayers an extra $41 million. In the seven years after the law took effect, Wisconsin’s prison population increased 14%, with no correlative public safety benefit or additional decline in crime rates. Further, the annual budget for the state prison system increased from $700 million in 1999 to $1.2 billion in 2009, becoming the third-largest expenditure in the 2009-2011 state budget.

    At the time, “[t]here was never any mention that ALEC or anybody else had any involvement” in the crafting of the bill, said Walter Dickey, a former head of Wisconsin’s prison system and current University of Wisconsin Law Professor, and who had paid close attention to the truth-in-sentencing debate.

    During this period of growing prison populations, then-Representative Scott Walker introduced several bills between 1997 and 1999 that would allow private prisons in Wisconsin, including one to privatize state prison operations (see the ALEC bill here), and another allowing private corrections companies to open prisons in Wisconsin to house inmates from other states (see the ALEC bill here). Walker noted in 1998 that longtime ALEC member Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) wanted to expand into Wisconsin. While those bills did not pass, some inmates were contracted-out to private prisons in other states, and CCA has registered lobbyists in the state ever since.

    “Clearly ALEC had proposed model legislation,” Walker told American Radio Works in 2002. “And probably more important than just the model legislation, [ALEC] had actually put together reports and such that showed the benefits of truth-in-sentencing and showed the successes in other states. And those sorts of statistics were very helpful to us when we pushed it through, when we passed the final legislation.” Those statistics, though, were critiqued by criminologists as unreliable and intended to persuade rather than educate: Walker said that he and fellow ALEC members relied on an ALEC report crediting Virginia’s truth-in-sentencing law with a five-year drop in crime, but crime dropped in ALL states in the 1990s, regardless of whether a state passed tough-on-crime laws like truth-in-sentencing.

    Dickey said in 2002 it is “shocking” that lawmakers would write sentencing policy with help from ALEC, a group that gets funding from, and supposedly “expertise” from a private prison corporation.

    “I don’t know that they know anything about sentencing,” he said. “They know how to build prisons, presumably, since that’s the business they’re in. They don’t know anything about probation and parole. They don’t know about the development of alternatives. They don’t know about how public safety might be created and defended in communities in this state and other states.”

    The Wisconsin state legislature apparently recognized the folly of truth in sentencing and rolled-back aspects of the law between 2001 and 2009. When Scott Walker became governor, he reversed this progress and pushed for legislation fully restoring the ALEC corporation-supported truth in sentencing, despite the costs to taxpayers and despite claiming Wisconsin was “broke.” In early July, Governor Walker’s office released a statement supporting expanded use of prison labor, another idea promoted in ALEC bills. Some observers have speculated that private prisons are next.

  6. Private Prisons Industry: Increasing Incarcerations, Maximizing Profits and Corrupting Our Democracy
    By David Donnelly

    Earlier this year in Louisiana, a plan by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) to privatize prisons narrowly failed in a legislative committee by a vote of 13 to 12. The 12 members of the House Appropriations Committee who voted to approve the prison privatization plan have received more than three times more money from private prison donors than the 13 members who voted against the plan, according to an analysis of data from the Louisiana Ethics Administration and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Gov. Jindal himself has taken nearly $30,000 from the private prison industry.


    How the private prison industry is corrupting our democracy and promoting mass incarceration


    Many Americans were shocked to learn that two Pennsylvania judges accepted “cash-for-kids,” kickbacks from for-profit juvenile detention companies in exchange for locking up young people for very minor offenses. Yet the reality is that private prison lobbyists regularly buy influence with state and federal officials, not only to win lucrative contracts, but also to change or preserve policies that increase the number of people behind bars. Private companies have made huge profits off the mass incarceration of non-violent drug offenders, and are now turning their attention to increasing the detention of Latino immigrants—the newest profit center for the prison industrial complex. Ultimately there is no way to reverse the costly trend toward mass incarceration without reducing the influence of these companies and their money in our democracy.

    The United States imprisons more people than in any other nation in the world, by far. While the U.S. represents less than five percent of the world’s population, we hold almost a quarter of the world’s prison population.1 Researchers may point to several factors for this trend, but it has become increasingly apparent that a driving force behind our imprisonment practices is the profit motive of private prison companies and the political influence these companies exert to create and expand their business opportunities. Two recent studies—one by the Justice Policy Institute in June and one by the American Civil Liberties Union in November—reveal the pervasive influence of the industry on criminal justice policy in the United States.

    Building on analysis of the most recent data on private prison lobbying and campaign contributions, as well as previous research and news accounts, this paper connects the dots between rising incarceration rates, increased detention of immigrants, growing private prison revenue, increased spending on political campaigns and lobbying, and privileged access to policymakers.

    In addition, through summaries of recent cases, we highlight examples of these unholy alliances in different states. The overview focuses on the two companies operating the majority of private prisons in the U.S. today (Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group), but the cases will also include smaller companies with interests in particular states.

    Summary of key findings

    •While the overall prison population has grown dramatically over the last two decades, the growth of inmates being detained in private, for-profit prisons has skyrocketed. Between 1990 and 2009, the total number of inmates in federal and state prisons doubled, while private prisons saw its business explode—the private prison population in 2009 was 17 times larger than 2 decades earlier.

    •The more people behind bars, and the longer they stay there, the more money that private, for-profit prison companies make. Over the last decade, the two largest for-profit prison companies (Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group) saw their annual revenue double as a result of the spike in incarcerations, making them both billion-dollar companies.

    •The explosion in the number of inmates and corresponding growth in revenue for private prisons is no accident. It has been part of an intentional effort by the private prison industry to shape public policy to push more people into prison and keep them there longer. The industry has achieved this through the classic three-pronged strategy of contributing to political campaigns, lobbying, and gaining access to policymakers through close relationships.

    •Through involvement in the leadership of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), private prison companies have played a key role in lobbying for and passing harsher sentencing for non-violent offenses including three-strike laws, mandatory sentencing, and truth-in-sentencing. They are also behind the recent spate of anti-immigrant state laws that are putting more and more immigrants behind bars—the new profit center for the prison industrial complex.

    •Private prison companies employ legions of lobbyists to push for policies that support their bottom line. Since 2001, CCA, GEO Group and Cornell Companies have spent over $22 million lobbying Congress.2 Recent lobbying by CCA and GEO Group includes efforts to increase funding to Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE). Since 2003, CCA has employed 204 of lobbyists in 32 states, and GEO Group has employed by 79 lobbyists in 17 states.3

    •Private prison companies also influence policymaking by strategically supporting political campaigns. At the federal level, the political action committees and executives of private prison companies have given at least $3.3 million to political parties, candidates, and their political action committees since 2001. The private prison industry has given more than $7.3 million to state candidates and political parties since 2001, including $1.9 million in 2010, the highest amount in the past decade.

  7. New Exposé Tracks ALEC-Private Prison Industry Effort to Replace Unionized Workers with Prison Labor
    Democracy Now!

    Many of the toughest sentencing laws responsible for the explosion of the U.S. prison population were drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which helps corporations write model legislation. Now a new exposé reveals ALEC has paved the way for states and corporations to replace unionized workers with prison labor. We speak with Mike Elk, contributing labor reporter at The Nation magazine. He says ALEC and private prison companies “put a mass amount of people in jail, and then they created a situation where they could exploit that.” Elk notes that in 2005 more than 14 million pounds of beef infected with rat feces processed by inmates were not recalled, in order to avoid drawing attention to how many products are made by prison labor.


    MIKE ELK: So, one of the—by far, one of the most perverse effects that ALEC has had on American society is the dramatic increase in the amount of prisoners incarcerated in this country. In 1980, there were only a half a million people incarcerated in this country. Now that number has quadrupled to nearly 2.4 million. One out of every 100 American adults is in prison, the majority of them for nonviolent drug offenses. You know, the United States has four percent of the world’s population, but yet we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners in this country. And a big part of the reason for that is ALEC. Starting in the 1980s, ALEC, with the sponsorship of, you know, the Corrections Corporation of America—

    AMY GOODMAN: And let me just remind people, ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council.

    MIKE ELK: Yeah, ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, started passing bills in individual states to privatize prisons. So now, state—there’s prison companies that could make money by keeping people in prisons. So then ALEC—what they did after that was they got states to pass tougher drug laws, tougher laws that would put prisoners away for a long time. In fact, one of the first bills introduced in 1995, by then-Wisconsin State Representative Scott Walker, was an ALEC bill, where he cited ALEC statistics, and he was an ALEC member, where he drew his inspiration. So they put a mass amount of people in jail, and then they created a situation where they could exploit that.

    And now what we’re seeing is the incredible rise of prison labor, where you have prisoners making as much as 20 cents an hour, making everything from the electronic components in guided missiles, that are being used in Libya, to breaded chicken patties that your children are eating at school, to, in fact, maybe even these office chairs we’re sitting in now. We have over 100,000 prisoners employed, working for private corporations. And before the 1990s and ALEC, this did not occur in this country.

  8. Prison Industry Funnels Donations To State Lawmakers Introducing SB1070-Like Bills Around The Country
    By Lee Fang
    September 16, 2010

    In December 2009, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a powerful front group that helps corporate representatives craft template legislation for state lawmakers, funded partially by the private prison industry — hosted Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce (R) and began debate on legislation that would provide broad powers to local police to arrest anyone who might look like an immigrant. ALEC then distributed the template legislation to its members. The January/February 2010 edition of ALEC’s magazine highlights the draft version of SB1070 — the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” — as model legislation.

    In April of this year, Pearce then introduced ALEC’s template as the infamous SB1070 law. Notably, the ALEC task force which helped Pearce devise his racial profiling law included Laurie Shanblum, a lobbyist from the mega-private prison corporation Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) which previously played a role in privatizing many of Texas’ prisons. An investigation from Arizona’s KPHO-TV found more ties between SB1070 and the private prison industry: Paul Senseman, Gov. Janet Brewer’s (R-AZ) deputy chief of staff was a former lobbyist for CCA (his wife is still a lobbyist for CCA) and Chuck Coughlin, Brewer’s campaign chairman, runs the lobbying firm in Arizona that represents CCA. In These Times reporter Beau Hodai, who also reported much of SB1070′s connections to the private prison industry, has a chart to explain the relationship.

    CCA is set to receive well over $74 million in tax dollars in FY2010 for running immigration detention centers. In a presentation given earlier this year, Pershing Square Capital, a hedge fund with a large financial stake in CCA, suggested that CCA’s profitability depends on increasing numbers of immigrants sent to prison. Many of the legislators helping to earn CCA more profits with radical anti-immigrant bills mirroring SB1070 have been recipients of private prison industry cash or have worked closely with the CCA-funded ALEC organization…

  9. Justice Holmes,

    Your comment brought to mind a Rolling Stone article that Matt Taibbi wrote a couple of years ago:

    Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?
    Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them
    By Matt Taibbi
    February 16, 2011

    Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.

    “Everything’s f*cked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”

    I put down my notebook. “Just that?”

    “That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s f*cked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”

    Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.

    The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What’s more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even “one dollar” just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.

    Instead, federal regulators and prosecutors have let the banks and finance companies that tried to burn the world economy to the ground get off with carefully orchestrated settlements — whitewash jobs that involve the firms paying pathetically small fines without even being required to admit wrongdoing. To add insult to injury, the people who actually committed the crimes almost never pay the fines themselves; banks caught defrauding their shareholders often use shareholder money to foot the tab of justice. “If the allegations in these settlements are true,” says Jed Rakoff, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, “it’s management buying its way off cheap, from the pockets of their victims.”

  10. ITPI found that the states of Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Virginia were locked into contracts with the highest occupancy guarantee requirements. All four states had quotas requiring an occupancy rate between 95% and 100%.

    I think it is fair to say that greed is a function of mental impairment.

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