Following the election of Donald Trump to US president, shares in the country’s two major private-prison companies soared, presumably banking on a hike in immigration detentions under a Trump administration, and a better climate for privatizing criminal justice.
CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), jumped 34%, while GEO Group rose 18%, as of 10:30am ET Wednesday morning. Overall, US markets were steady, with the S&P 500 essentially flat.
The prison operators had lost almost half their value on a single day in August after the US Department of Justice announced it would stop contracting with them to house federal inmates, citing private prisons’ inefficiency and safety issues. CCA and GEO’s market losses deepened later that month when the US Department of Homeland Security said it would re-evaluate how it works with the companies.
Trump has come out in support of private prisons, because they seem to him to “work a lot better,” as he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in June. He has also vowed to overturn US president Barack Obama’s policies to protect immigrants and has spoken of deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the US. Considering his views on prison privatization, this will likely be a boon for privately run detention infrastructure. GEO Group appeared to be acutely aware of this: It was one of the few publicly traded companies to give significant contributions to Super PACs supporting Trump and other Republicans throughout the campaign season.
“Elected leaders at all levels of government are facing the realities of an increasingly complex and budget-constrained world, and we believe the company we’ve evolved into today provides us with a platform to grow where our partners want and need solutions,” CoreCivic told Quartz in a statement.