The War on Drugs and harsh sentencing laws led to explosive growth in state and federal prison populations in the 1980s. The massive rise in prisoners overwhelmed government budgets and resources, and created opportunities for private prison companies to flourish. In 2010, one in every 13 prisoners in the U.S. was held by for-profit companies, despite evidence that private prisons often
provide inadequate levels of service and are no more cost-effective than publicly-run facilities. In addition, private prisons operate on a business model that emphasizes profits over the public good, and benefit from policies that maintain America’s high incarceration rate.