Private prison companies claim they can house, feed, and monitor inmates more cost effectively than state governments and so there you have it– they win big contracts.

But there’s a catch.

Most private prison contractors have occupancy guarantees that mandate their prisons remain between 80 and 90 percent full. In other words, the more prisoners they house, the more money they make. And the more prisons that are built, the more contracts they win. The business model of private prisons is to maximize the amount of people in America who are locked up– not to rehabilitate or ultimately lower incarceration rates.