For-profit prison companies are exploiting “new markets” to compensate for the recent decrease in America’s prison population, according to the report released by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).
Psychiatric facilities in particular could bring in major cash for private prison companies. These state facilities typically include a number of “forensic” cases, meaning patients ended up in a psych facility because they committed a crime.
For-profit prison operators also stand to gain from a type of confinement known as civil commitment, which confines sex offenders after their prison sentences if they’re likely to abuse somebody again.
Both of these prison alternatives could be more lucrative for for-profit prison companies than running an actual prison. From the report:
Unlike prisons, from which over 90% of those incarcerated are eventually released, mental health hospitals and civil commitment centres represent the potential for lifetime confinement, which spells long-term, guaranteed profits for private corporations.
While there’s definitely a need for forensic psych units, it can be problematic if they’re run by for-profit companies.
Just like for-profit prisons have an incentive to keep people locked up in prison, they may also be inclined to keep patients committed on psych wards long after it’s necessary, as a recent paper published by the University of Texas pointed out.
Currently, though, there is only one private prison company taking advantage of the profits to be made from psych facilities and civil commitment, according to the AFSC report.
GEO Care, which was recently acquired by Correct Care Solutions, runs five psychiatric hospitals in Florida, South Carolina, and Texas. GEO also runs America’s only privatized civil commitment center, which is in Florida, according to the AFSC report.