Date of Award

Fall 2016

Project Type


Program or Major

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Daniel Bromberg

Second Advisor

Alynna Lyon

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Carter


Prison reformists, lawmakers, human rights activists, lobbyists, investors, government agencies, and other civil and government actors play a large role in the state of the private prison industry’s rate of growth, especially in the past 15-20 years. A 2001 Bureau of Justice Statistics study concluded that big cost savings promised by the private prison industry in the United States “have not materialized.” Corrections Corporation of America’s stock price took its largest plunge in 2000 and never bounced back to its late 90s high. However, despite successful divestment campaigns and legislation against prison privatization after reports of irresponsibility, CCA stock has issued dividends to their investors since 2012, and several analysts currently list CXW (CCA stock) as a recommended buy and hold. Although the United States federal prison population dropped in 2014 for the first time since 1980 (along with private populations), CCA’s stock price remains relatively the same today as the day Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement. Since the fall of share prices, CCA has converted to a REIT in order to avoid corporate taxes and focused heavily on litigating and lobbying to influence voting decisions on sentencing, regulations, and law enforcement. This lobbying assists in filling prison beds and winning government contracts, with lobbying expenditures over $3.3 million in 2005. With respect to economic, social, and political indicators and by juxtaposing the theories of Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, and Karl Polanyi this study will focus on whether CXW investors can influence the re-embedding of the economy (the subordination of the markets to social relations), with a quantitative focus on the fluctuation of CXW stock prices and their relationship to reports of CCA irresponsibility in the media.