The prison industrial complex has the perfect love affair with the U.S. government. They are like the mistress that gets a diamond ring and the prisoners in their “care” are the spouse that is presented with a vacuum cleaner. This love affair is precisely what led to the United States claiming the title of the world’s number one jailer. The people, whose interests the government are supposed to have in mind, are bombarded with laws that are meant to incarcerate them so that the prison industry can profit. And profit they do. The prison industry makes billions of dollars annually off the destruction of American lives. Not only has the American public been abused by the prison industry’s lobbying for tougher laws that in some cases take away their lives for many years for minor offenses, but now the industry has come up with a new way to avoid paying income taxes. One private prison company, GEO Group, is bragging about their success to their investors and promising that the beds will stay full.
GEO Group is one of the largest private prison corporations operating in the United States. It is also one of the most controversial corporations whose reputation is tarnished by poor living conditions, prisoner deaths, and inmate abuses. Despite its bad reputation and the plethora of problems it has, the corporation is boasting about a 56% spike in profits to its investors this year. How did it manage such a dramatic increase in profits? Oh, that’s easy, by getting the Internal Revenue Service on board with their effort to restyle themselves as not just a corporation, but a special trust that is typically exempt from paying taxes. The group successfully argued that they should be considered a real estate investment trust or REIT. GEO along with Corrections Corporation of America claim that they should be eligible for the exemption because they are essentially renting out their property to prisoners that the government is paying for. What in the actual hell? Renters? Really? While this scheme is sure to piss off Americans it is sure to please investors; REITS are required by law to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income back to their investors. Corrections Corporation of America says that they expect to save as much as 70 million dollars in taxes this year under their new status. GEO Group reported that a revision to their taxes made them plummet from $8.5 million in the first quarter of 2012 to $881,000 in the first quarter of 2013.
In a call to investors the Vice President of GEO Group, John Hurley, also assured their investors that they are optimistic about future profits because the offender population continues to grow.
We have a longstanding partnership with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshal Service and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. … We continue to see meaningful opportunities for us to partner with all three of these federal agencies, notwithstanding the various issues with the federal budget, which we believe will have no material negative impact on our business. The federal bureau of prisons continues to face capacity constraints coupled with a growing offender population.
I’m sure that they American public will be thrilled to discover just how this industry is profiting off the rest of us. This is indeed a sweet deal for them. Not only does the prison industrial complex have their hand in most of the “tough on crime” legislation that is passed but now they are receiving huge tax breaks by using some slimy loophole. I find it disturbing in a time when so much emphasis is put on how much the poor people of this country are bleeding it dry with their need for food and healthcare and all of the totally unnecessary stuff they need to survive, the government continues to support corporate welfare. Make no mistake this is corporate welfare. The private prison industry makes billions and billions of dollars annually they no more need a tax break than I need a hole in my head, yet they are getting one. It’s funny isn’t it? And by funny I mean completely and utterly confusing and frustrating and pretty sickening. Like I said, it’s the perfect love affair and the big, happy government mistress just got a shiny Maserati at your expense. How do you feel about that?