The Ultimate Captive Market

    Now here’s a heads-they-win, tails-we-lose situation: Three of the contracts Arizona signed with private companies to house its prisoners require 100 percent occupancy.

    That’s right: If the state fails to send along enough jailbirds to fill all the beds, it pays a penalty. Nationwide, similar arrangements in two-thirds of these contracts either guarantee high prison occupancy or penalize taxpayers when there aren’t enough convicted criminals to keep behind bars.

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