The Color of Corporate Corrections: The Overrepresentation of People of Color in the For-Profit Corrections Industry

Christopher Petrella, Josh Begley


Although people of color1 are already overrepresented in public prisons relative to their state and national population share2, our research indicates that people of color are further overrepresented by roughly 12 percent in state-level correctional facilities operated by for-profit, private prison firms. This overrepresentation of people of color in for-profit, private corrections institutions should be a matter of deep public concern.

1 Although racial designations are always imprecise, elusive, and subject to revision, we appropriated U.S. Census Bureau racial categories for the purposes of this study to preserve nomenclatural, and therefore statistical, fidelity in our cross-referencing efforts. People of color here are defined as “Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and non-white Hispanic or Latino.”


2 People of color comprise 61 percent of California’s population yet account for 75 percent of the state’s public prison enrollment. In Texas, people of color comprise 55 percent of the state’s population yet account for 66 percent of the public corrections population. And finally, people of color comprise 43 percent of Arizona’s population yet account for 60 percent of the state’s public prison share.



prison; incarceration; for-profit corrections; United States; racism

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California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR): (accessed Aug-Oct 2012)


Corrections Corporation of America:

Crayton, A. and S.R. Neusteter. "The Current State of Correctional Education" in a paper presented at the 'Reentry Roundtable on Education

Prisoner', Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice. (Accessed August 2013)

Federal Bureau of Prisons:

Prison Policy Initiative’s “Correctional Facility Locator 2010” cross referenced with “count sheets,” inmate population directories available on state Dept. of Corrections websites.


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