Brett Wilkins criminal justice Prisoner's Rights

New Data Tool Details Thousands of Corporations Profiting From US Prison Industry

"Despite earning tens of billions of dollars each year, the public knows little about the prison industry and those that profit from it."
Sign at Sing Sing prison, Ossining, New York, USA, 2014. Acroterion, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Brett Wilkins / Common Dreams

An advocacy group “dedicated to dismantling the prison industry” on Wednesday unveiled an interactive database of over 4,000 corporations it says are profiting from the U.S. carceral system, the world’s most populous.

The Prison Industry Corporate Database, published by New York-based Worth Rises, includes publicly traded and privately held corporations spanning 12 sectors: architecture and construction, operations and management, personnel, programs and labor, equipment, data and information systems, telecom, financial services, food and commissary, healthcare, transportation, and community corrections.

“Despite earning tens of billions of dollars each year, the public knows little about the prison industry and those that profit from it,” Worth Rises executive director Bianca Tylek said in a statement. “This is not about any one corporation—and it’s not about private prisons or prison labor—but the thousands of corporations that profit off the caging of millions of people in our prisons and jails across the U.S.”

“We are releasing the Prison Industry Corporate Database to help people understand the vastness of the prison industry and the financial incentives it has to expand incarceration rather than protect public safety, so that together we can build the solutions needed to dismantle it,” Tylek added.

Companies in the database are assigned a “harm score” based on their responsibility for and responsiveness to their human rights violations. Corporations with a harm score over 10 are recommended for immediate divestment.

Twenty companies on the list have a harm score of 15, including Bushmaster Firearms, Cerberus, CoreCivic, GEO Group, Remington Outdoor, Sodexo, and Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Companies scoring a 13 or higher include 3M, Amazon, Aramark, Avis, General Dynamics, Hewlett Packard, Lockheed Martin, McDonald’s, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Starbucks, Sysco, T-Mobile, Universal Health Services, Vanguard Group, and Wendy’s.

Worth Rises says the financial technology company Envestnet has used the database “to create an investment screen that financial advisors can apply to client accounts to ensure they are not invested in the most harmful corporations in the prison industry.”

Brett Wilkins
Brett Wilkins

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.


  1. Bravo for breaking the dam that’s been keeping these soulless entities hidden from view! Another facet of the terrible psycho-socio-pathic nature of these corporations and firms revealed. If you’ve been thinking of not voting, then please know you are passively colluding with an essence that destroys humans and Life, herself – along with all other life enlivening values. Please vote. Please organize in the name of compassion and justice.

  2. You know with a past history of MK Ultra brain washing and programming, I would not put it past the Elite Fascist Corporate State to program people to kill others, like a Manchurian candidate or some such lunacy. In order to keep prisons in business you need crime, and people to commit them, bad crimes. The worse the better for business. And then you need to tweak the laws to make more jail time for insignificant offenses, or create new jails for people like tax delinquents, or socially reprehensible people a deemed by the State, you know a real Fascist program to keep the Fascist machine well oiled, and everyone else hard at work supporting the machine. This sickens me to no end. It’s like Big Pig Pharma keeping people sick and offering NO cures. And big agriculture, genetically altering foods to look great with no nutritional value whatsoever, or with limited value, enough to bring about physical illness enough to make you buy Big Pig Pharma’s products made to address exactly the vitamin deficiency brought about by the GMO foods you eat. An endless cycle for us gerbils.

  3. In a system that makes it profitable to lock people behind bars, you can be sure there won’t be a cell unfilled.

    Like in the Empire of Lies.

  4. a nation where most violent crime non violent crime rape per capita exists—all crime must be rewarded—USA#1

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