, 9 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
1. There’s a rpt getting a lot of attention saying that half of correctional $$ goes to private contractors.

Here’s the claim (report is here: static1.squarespace.com/static/58e127c…)

This is incorrect, in an important way that strikes at the heart of our inability to end mass incarceration.
2. It’s actually hard in the report to get where the 50% number comes from—I’ve tried to find the detailed breakdown and failed, but perhaps someone can point me to it.

But the methodology was to look at just four states (that’s fine)—one of which I know well.
3. Already, though, there’s reason to be concerned. State prison budgets are just $50B. That $80B number is prisons PLUS jails. And jails are run by counties—something their state datasource won’t track.

It’s risky to extrapolate from big states too small—moreso prison to jail.
4. But here’s the key issue. The report says that over half of what we spend goes to private contractors.

But as Vera has pointed out, over 2/3 of spending is just wages. Those are irreconcilable numbers.

And data from NYS points to Vera as having the right take.
5. Here’s 2017-18 budget allocations for NY DOC, one of the 5 agencies considered by the report.

Total allocations: About $2.8B

Total wage bill: About Just over $2B.

That’s ~70% on wages. If every other penny goes private—it won’t!—that’s well below half.
6. All this is consistent with the excellent @PrisonPolicy report on spending, which likewise found that most spending goes to public, not private, agencies: prisonpolicy.org/reports/money.…
@PrisonPolicy 7. The money behind mass incarceration is going to public correctional officer wages. That is where almost all of it goes. That is where almost all $-based lobbying and resistance-to-reform comes from.

It is the public sector, not the private, that drives this.

It just is.
8. The Left remains so strongly committed to this private prison narrative.

But it is the wrong narrative, and it is a narrative that both wrongly excuses us—“it’s not us, it’s these shadowy capitalists!”—and points reforms in the wrong direction.
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