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Louisiana Incarcerated: How we built the world’s prison capital–The Times Picayune

Check out the recent eight part series released by New Orleans Time Picayune on how recent overhauls in Louisana’s prison policy has created financial incentives for politicians to fill up prison beds.

Below is an excerpt of on article from the series. Article is reposted from NOLA.com.

 

North Louisiana family is a major force in the state’s vast prison industry

Published: Monday, May 14, 2012, 5:00 AM    

By Cindy Chang, The Times-Picayune

JONESBORO — Clay McConnell is an unlikely scion for a prison empire. An ordained minister, his curly brown hair is fashionably rumpled, and he gets flustered when speaking in front of a video camera. His father, Billy, is the brains behind LaSalle Corrections, the one who expanded the family business from senior citizens to criminals.

When a prison-building boom swept north Louisiana in the 1990s, Billy McConnell got in on the financing and construction ends. Then he thought, why not run the prisons, too? He already ran nursing homes, and the bottom line was the same. His experience feeding and housing old folks could be applied to keeping drug pushers and petty thieves behind bars.

“We realized that prisons are like nursing homes. You need occupancy to be high. You have to treat people fairly and run a good ship, but run it like a business, watch food costs, employee costs,” said Clay McConnell, 37.

Today, the McConnells are a major force in Louisiana’s vast prison industry, playing a role in the incarceration of one in seven prisoners. The family’s fortunes have risen hand in hand with those of rural sheriffs who are the best-known face of Louisiana Incarceration-for-Profit Inc. More than half of the state’s 40,000 inmates are housed in local prisons run by sheriffs or private companies like LaSalle for the express purpose of making a buck.

Click here to read full article.

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