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Private prisons face an uncertain future as states turn their backs on the industry

By Catherine Kim Dec 1, 2019, 3:53pm EST

States are passing laws abolishing private prisons and businesses are cutting ties with the facilities. And private prison companies are planning for a future in which their core service is illegal.

A brief history of private prisons

Private prisons first emerged in the 1980s in response to mass incarceration created by tough-on-crime policies. As state and federal prisons became overcrowded, private businesses seized the opportunity to build their own facilities and house the incarcerated. The world’s first modern for-profit prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (now known as CoreCivic), was established in 1983 by Thomas Beasley, Doctor R. Crants, and T. Don Hutto.