Inspired by Ethan Alex

Content Note: This is a work of satire. This business plan is based on true stories, facts, and statistics about the rural Polk County, Florida, jail system. It is entirely a work of creative nonfiction that is based on real events.



“Building Jails, Building America.”


National Jail Contractors (NJC) is a Limited Liability Partnership based out of Miami, Florida. We are operated by general partners that have an established record of entrepreneurial success and are financially backed by an inside network of limited partners including law enforcement officers, criminal court judges, politicians, and legal professionals.

National Jail Contractors
Illustration by Michelle Garcia


In 2018, people went through America’s ballooning jail system more than 10 million times.1 This number will continue to grow each year, boosted by our nation’s rural areas and a current jail construction boom. By replicating a business model used by the Polk County, Florida, authorities, NJC is proposing constructing private, for-profit county jails in the rural towns surrounding the Miami-Dade metro area.

The Polk County courthouse and sheriff’s office oversee a small rural area of central Florida, but have still managed outstanding success in building, populating, and expanding their local county jails at a low cost while allowing third-party services like the bail bonds industry and telecom companies to earn lucrative profits that get passed on to counties by contract.

In 2016, the estimated population of Polk County was 642,909 residents; during that same year, the sheriff’s office successfully arrested approximately 30,000 people, rotating 4.6 percent of the total populace through three county jails.2

Our company will copy the Polk County model of Super-incarceration™ in rural Miami, while working with local law enforcement to teach Arrest-harvesting™ strategies to fill those jails to capacity with “tenants.” With the assistance of local judges, law enforcement, and politicians, NJC will create a lasting local economy built around jails and incarceration, while simultaneously working on expansion into other Florida counties.


The Polk County model gained success from law enforcement’s arrest and detention of people who haven’t yet been convicted of a crime and through the assignment of a high bail by the local courts, which typically cannot be paid.3 This allowed the market to expand by incarcerating tenants for up to two years while awaiting trial, forcing the necessity for new county jails to be built to house the latest cycle of tenants.

Qualitative market research shows by using the method of rural Super-incarceration™, we could potentially imprison 10 percent of the Miami-Dade metro population over the next 10 years. Our market survey has identified supposedly marginalized community members (in other words, people who are poor, minorities, or have substance use issues) who cannot only be turned into one-time temporary tenants but also into lifelong repeat tenants. This tactic of profiling has worked well for Polk County for a long time. What opponents of Arrest-harvesting™ and recidivism call social inequities, we see as potential profits.

National jail contractors graph
Illustration by Michelle Garcia

Based on these one-, five-, and 10-year growth projections, raising the arrest rate will increase the demand for county jails and bring the supply of repeat tenants to new highs. This volume will allow NJC to profit and bring in revenue for future expansions.


The Polk County model works because of support from public officials and the surrounding community. Cooperation with law enforcement, prosecutors, elected representatives, local businesses, bail bond companies, attorneys, and sitting or retired judges creates synergy for a common cause. These partnerships build a sense of camaraderie and allow NJC to gain from total relationship management.

Super-incarceration™ is popular with bureaucrats who believe that if a potential tenant doesn’t want to lose their home, job, car, or possessions because of spending a few days or weeks in county jail, they shouldn’t violate minor laws. This outlook aids in the overall acceptance of constructing and filling our new facilities and allows NJC to operate unchallenged.


Many organizations advocate alternative treatment and decriminalization for serious crimes like unpaid parking tickets, overdue child support, public drunkenness, domestic disputes, sex work, and small possession of recreational drugs. While diversionary programs and access to education may help reduce recidivism (repeat tenants) and minimize the overall life impact of a misdemeanor, these activists could lower our potential earnings with their propaganda.

Places like The Marshall Project and the Equal Justice Initiative support reducing recidivism, but this would defeat the nation’s current jail construction boom and jeopardize future profits. The belief that jail perpetuates inequities in the legal system is simply a scare tactic used to let “criminals” run the streets.

NJC strongly feels that given the right motivation, we will be able to find a magnanimous sheriff and subjugate opposition to the profitable trend of Arrest-harvesting™ and Super-incarceration™.


NJC has picked the rural town of Coopertown, Florida, as our first location for constructing a new jail complex, 28 miles from Miami. This maximizes our benefits for building a supportive local economy around the jail from year one.

National jail contractors map
Illustration by Michelle Garcia

The Polk County model has been incredibly efficient with space; according to one resident, at one point in 2016, jail authorities crammed five tenants into a 98-square-foot cell designed for two people. According to the resident we spoke with, whistleblowers stopped that practice, forcing authorities to adopt their current policy of housing only three tenants in a two-person cell. Our plan is to follow suit with Polk County’s current floor plan. (See included floor plan.)

National jail contractors floor plan
Illustration by Michelle Garcia


According to researchers at the Vera Institute of Justice, who collected population numbers from half of the 3,300 county jails in America, incarceration levels reached their lowest point in two decades in June 2020 as authorities released people with low-level charges, reduced arrests, and suspended court operations due to COVID-19.4 But because of the diligent efforts of law enforcement and the criminal legal system, that drop didn’t last long. From June 2020 to March 2021, the number of people in jails awaiting trial or serving short sentences climbed by more than 70,000, reaching a population of nearly 650,000.5

NJC will continue that upward trend by opening newly constructed county jails just waiting to be filled and will capitalize on the supposed “misfortune” of people charged with these misdemeanors. By using the Polk County model of 23-hour lockdown inside cells, our company believes we can minimize external employee labor and simply warehouse tenants. Without the necessity of recreation time, television, or reading materials, and by limiting the times for phone calls and showers to one hour per day, NJC will achieve the excellence of our friends in Polk County, Florida—the paragon of county jail administration.

Building new jails in rural areas, alongside a cycle of growth of new tenants, will impact communities in a positive way. National Jail Contractors hopes to be a part of that growth for many years to come.

About Ryan M. Moser

Ryan M. Moser is an award-winning writer and journalist from Philadelphia and writes a monthly column for The Wild Word called “From the Inside.”

Vera believes in using our platforms to elevate diverse voices and opinions, including those of people currently and formerly incarcerated. Other than Vera employees, contributors speak for themselves. Vera has not independently verified the statements made in this piece.


1 Jacob Kang-Brown, Chase Montagenet, and Jasmine Heiss, People in Jail and Prison in 2020 (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2021),

2 Central Florida Development Council, Polk County Demographic Report, (Lakeland, FL: CFDC, 2016),; and Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Uniform Crime Report, Crime in Florida Abstract: Polk County (Tallahassee, FL: FDLE, Florida Statistical Analysis Center, 2016),

3 For more information about pretrial detention and unaffordable bail, see Léon Digard and Elizabeth Swavola, Justice Denied: The Harmful and Lasting Effects of Pretrial Detention (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2019),

4 Jacob Kang-Brown, Chase Montagnet, and Jasmine Heiss, People in Jail and Prison in Spring 2021 (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2021),

5 Ibid.