Private Prisons Held 126K in 2015, Up Sharply Since 2000

The population incarcerated in for-profit prisons increased 45 percent from 2000 to 2015, according to a new data analysis by The Sentencing Project. Private prisons held about 8 percent of the total U.S. prison population in 2015.

Private prisons in the U.S. incarcerated 126,272 people in 2015, representing 8 percent of the total state and federal prison population, according to a new analysis by The Sentencing Project. The number of people housed in private prisons has increased 45 percent since 2000. States show significant variation in their use of private facilities: New Mexico and Montana incarcerate more than 40 percent of their prison populations in private facilities, while Illinois and New York do not use for-profit prisons. Federal data show that in 2015, 28 states and the federal government incarcerated people in private facilities run by corporations including GEO Group, Core Civic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and Management and Training Corporation.

Twenty-one of the states with private-prison contracts incarcerate more than 500 people in for-profit prisons. Texas, the first state to adopt private prisons, in 1985, incarcerated the largest number of people under state jurisdiction, 14,293. In five states, the private prison population has increased 100 percent or more since 2000. The federal prison system showed a 125 percent increase in use of private prisons since 2000, with 34,934 people in private facilities in 2015.