Without a large volume of incarcerated Oklahomans, the business model for private prison corporations will collapse.
And corporate prisons have built in a key component to their cost of operating; namely, the campaign contributions which buy them access and influence with Oklahoma politicians. This indirectly means that Oklahoma taxpayers are footing the bill for prison contracts which include campaign funding of politicians to do the bidding of the corporate prison executives.
Here's an old article from the 2014 election cycle. It might offer clues as to why criminal justice reform was stalled in the Oklahoma legislature.
Flashback: 2014 Donations From Private Prison Interests
Private corrections and their supporters hand out a lot of campaign donations in Oklahoma politics. Since 2004, private corrections interests and those who represent them have spent more than $400,000 to fund various elected officials’ campaigns and political causes, a Tulsa World analysis of Ethics Commission disclosure reports shows.
The amount spent includes $50,750 in contributions for incumbents’ 2014 re-election campaigns, the analysis shows.
The $414,397 total spent ranges from a few bucks spent by lobbyists whose clients include a private corrections company to thousands spent to fund political events such as the Oklahoma Speaker’s Ball.
Three private corrections companies with operations in the state :
- Corrections Corporation of America
- The Geo Group, Inc.
- Avalon Correctional Services Inc.
— are the primary donors to political campaigns in Oklahoma.
Top actively serving recipients of private prison contributions:
Gov. Mary Fallin $38,250
T.W. Shannon $35,950*
Sen. Clark Jolley $29,301
Treasurer Ken Miller $17,500
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb $14,500
Ins Comm. John Doak $12,250
Sen. Rob Johnson $11,250
Sen. Don Barrington $9,635
Sen. Dan Newberry $8,750
Rep. Todd Thomsen $8,400
*Includes $22,500 to Oklahoma Speaker’s Ball, Inc.(Contributions 2004 through Sept. 30, 2013)