This video shows how it works, and why it is a systems problem for counties, and for all of us citizens.

The Key Driver of Jail Expansion

This is what I called the unseen corporate industry business model that I found driving the mass incarceration of citizens into local jails across the country. It’s the broker-dealer middlemen skimming profits for the school to prison pipeline.

Jails become the marketing arm for the prison industrial complex. 


That is what one businessman asked me to explain to him. I figured it out by questioning and studying the motives of our top three elected law enforcement officials as they strategized to build their huge new enterprise.

The Sheriff, the Prosecutor and the County Executive were all working in tandem to build a huge jail on the northern border of the US.  Yet there was no logical demand or reason to do it.  They refused to provide data and there was NO Needs Assessment to justify the tax and the build out.


They had already passed five prior earmarked taxes and built two new jails in 30 years.  Now they were demanding another one – one that was planned to expand the bed space from about 400 beds to 2400 beds plus over 20 years?  Where was “the supply”? Crime rates had been dropping by 25% over the past 10 years.  Yet their average length of stay was going up from 9.7 days to over 22 days.  Why?  It made no logical sense.


I discovered how Whatcom County is a corporation. These law enforcers are employees of the corporation, and they were using the jail tax initiative and the jail building plan as a business center.  They were no longer working for taxpayers – they were working for the corporations.

Every time they raise taxes it generates income. This is money for County facilities expansion, and operations. In turn this expands a high liability bureaucracy (job security for high paid justice system staff). This feeds the revenue stream for the middlemen contractors, boosting revenue that comes back to the County corporation.


taxpayers pay through the nose repeatedly. And anyone who gets wounded by a mistake made in our community ends up prey to the corporation.

People are more valuable as a cash asset to the corporation when they get arrested, and they become a cash cow to the privateers and to the County corporation. People become bait to a system that is out of control.

After doing this work, I found that the jail expansion project was not about the government officials providing honest public safety.


It is a real estate development project to expand the jail building and jail real estate and services industry. This is a deeply destructive, narcissistic and contrarian business model.

I discovered this when I started studying the hidden drivers that were compelling our top three elected officials in Whatcom County to push forward on a mega-jail building scheme EVEN WHEN our voters said NO in 2015.

They did not listen to the public. They did not listen to inmates, they did not listen to reason. Instead, they bullied he municipalities and the tribes and the civic organization to push people into buying the same tax package they were offering in 2017.


Without a Needs Assessment to justify the purchase, instead they over-criminalized people and overloaded the jail for years, creating an humane living condition.  This created a high liability problem that could be used as leverage to bully the middle class into buying another tax.  And, they thought they could bully the municipal leaders into buying the tax to generate revenue for other local jurisdictions.

It smelled fishy to me, so I started studying on the problem.
This privateering business model was the hidden reason driving the jail building tax plan.  I found out that this is the systemic ECONOMIC ROOTS of the mass incarceration of people across the nation.  Nationally, local jurisdictions are arresting over 11.7 Million people a year – which is driving a lot of traffic towards the jail building and prison industrial complex.

Counties are corporations who contract with other multi-national corporations and other state and federal government, non-profit and educational institutions to provide services.


It is an idea that went upside down and became subversive and self-destructive. While the idea of contracting experts to save money looks good on the surface, in the jail industry it becomes a conflict of interest. It creates an unsustainable tax collection and revenue collecting funnel from the taxpayers. It creates an unsatiable appetite for more revenue to pay the County high liability overhead. It creates a huge marketing funnel for all the corporations in the up chain…and this generates more revenue for the County corporation.

This works for government and corporation employees.  Until we run out of viable taxpayers. And the employees realize they are paid by those taxes, and are co-dependent on free people to generate the business that pays the taxes.

IT IS LOSE-LOSE-LOSE in the end.

It literally means that the jail is a revenue generation system for the big corporations – and all taxpayers pay the price on the front end, in the middle and at the back end.

It is simply unsustainable. It is creating systemic abuse addiction inside our most vulnerable space…where the corporations have the capacity to take freedom away and punish you to extract more money. If you do not pay…you hurt more.

Author Details
Joy Gilfilen is a Quantum Leadership Expert who\\\'s spent 40 years in free-enterprise and business development. Her expertise include systems that help communities transform complex problems into simple and effective solutions.