Private prisons and their suppliers are the largest financial receipients of mass incarceration policy and mandatory minimum sentencing.
The third expense is upon release. Most previously incarcerated individuals cannot find work or live at home if their family is receiving any type of government aid. For the rest of their working career, tax revenue is lost, hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income over the years, the family suffers, the community suffers and economies suffer because of the swelling number of people that are being forced into this population.
Organizations such as ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and CCA (Corrections Corporation Of America) among others, spend millions of dollars to lobby congress for these “tough on drug” policies not because they work but because it keeps their jails full. ( see The Cause)
Private prisons are paid $25,000, to $50,000 per person per year. Inmates are then fed meals of heavy starch and fat to save costs. Many of them are “leased out” to work for major corporations making their products for as little as 17 cents/hour.
So it is in their best interest to lock up as many people as possible for any reason no matter how minor or the cost.