And to implement this draconian proposal, the government awards a well-connected private prison company with a $1 billion no-bid contract — one that promises to pay the firm $20 million a month, no matter how few migrants its facility is responsible for housing at a given time. Then federal courts rule that this policy of mass detention isn’t actually legal. But the contract is already signed, and so the Corrections Corporation of America collects millions in taxpayer money to maintain a nearly empty detention center.
As Central Americans surged across the U.S. border two years ago, the Obama administration skipped the standard public bidding process and agreed to a deal that offered generous terms to Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison company, to build a massive detention facility for women and children seeking asylum.
The four-year, $1 billion contract — details of which have not been previously disclosed — has been a boon for CCA, which, in an unusual arrangement, gets the money regardless of how many people are detained at the facility. Critics say the government’s policy has been expensive but ineffective. Arrivals of Central American families at the border have continued unabated while court rulings have forced the administration to step back from its original approach to the border surge.
CCA declined to comment on the evolution of family detention policy. But Hininger, CCA’s chief executive, said in a release for investors that the company was “pleased” with its performance at the start of the year. Its increase in revenue, the company said, was “primarily attributable” to the South Texas Family Residential Center.