For-profit prisons grow by 1,600 percent
The United States, the so-called model of democracy, imprisons more people than any other country in the world. While people in the U.S. account for only 5 percent of the world’s population, the 2.4 million people languishing in U.S. jails and prisons account for a whopping 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.
Despite the dramatic 700 percent increase in the U.S. prison population between 1970 and 2005, the most significant growth has been in the for-profit private prison industry. It grew by an astounding 1,600 percent between 1990 and 2009. For-profit prisons run by private companies hardly existed before 1980, but in the three decades since have used their massive profits to gain political clout and accelerate the growth of mass incarceration.
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