Thomas W. Beasley

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Thomas W. Beasley
BornJanuary 8, 1943
EducationSmith County High School
Alma mater United States Military Academy
Vanderbilt University Law School
Occupation(s) Private prisons, lawyer, political activist, businessman
Known forCo-founder of Corrections Corporation of America
SpouseWendy Williams
Parent(s)Lewis Beasley
Elizabeth Beasley

Thomas W. Beasley (a.k.a. Tom Beasley) (born 1943) is an American lawyer, political activist and businessman based in Tennessee. He served as the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.


In 1983 he was a co-founder of CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private prison management company. He served as its president and chief executive officer from 1983 to 1987, and as its chairman from 1987 to 1994. As of 2015, it has become the largest prison management company in the United States.

Early life

Thomas W. Beasley was born on January 8, 1943, on a farm owned by his family from the late 1790s in Smith County, Tennessee. [1] [2]

He was educated at the Smith County High School in Carthage, Tennessee. [1] He graduated from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York in 1966. [1] [2] He served in the United States Army in Vietnam, the Panama Canal, and Nicaragua. [2] He was awarded a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars. [2]

Beasley returned to graduate school after the military. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the Vanderbilt University Law School in 1973. [2] [3] While in law school, he rented a garage apartment from future Tennessee governor and U.S. senator Lamar Alexander. [4] As governor, Alexander supported CCA's takeover of the Tennessee prison system and was also among the top recipients of CCA campaign donations. [5]


Beasley worked as a lawyer for the law firm White, Regen, Burch, and Beasley from 1973 to 1977. [1]

He served as the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 1977 to 1981. [1] [6] Beasley is credited with getting Robin Beard elected to the United States House of Representatives. [1]

Beasley served the chairman of Community Education Partners. [1] He served on the board of directors of the Education Corporation of America and the Horizon Resources Group. [1] He is a member of the American Bar Association and the American Correctional Association. [1]

Corrections Corporation of America

In the early 1980s, Beasley and his former roommate, Nashville lawyer, businessman and Republican presidential fund-raiser for Reagan, Robert Crants [7] [8] :128 met an executive of the Magic Stove Company who "said he thought it would be a heck of a venture for a young man: To solve the prison problem and make a lot of money at the same time" (CCA Source 2003). On January 28, 1983, Crants, Beasley, who was then Tennessee Republican chairman [8] :72 and T. Don Hutto founded Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison management company. [7] [8] :128 [4] [9] :81–82 CCA received initial investments from Jack C. Massey, the founder of Hospital Corporation of America, Vanderbilt University, the Tennessee Valley Authority. [10] [11] Beasley served as its president and chief executive officer from 1983 to 1987, and as its chairman from 1987 to 1994. [1]

In 2000, he was appointed as the interim chief executive officer of CCA and Prison Realty Trust, as the latter firm merged with CCA. [12] In the early 21st century, CCA had become the largest private prison management company in the United States. By 2016, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) along with Geo Group were running "more than 170 prisons and detention centres". CCA's revenues in 2015 were $1.79 billion. [13]


Beasley served on the Tennessee Board of Regents as well as on the board of trustees of Cumberland University, a private university in Lebanon, Tennessee. [1] In 1997, Beasley endowed the Thomas W. Beasley Scholarship at the Vanderbilt University Law School for United States Army veterans. [2] In 2006, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the law school. [2] [3] The Tom 'Wish' Beasley/Alumni Sports Center at Smith County High School is named in his honor. [1]

Beasley served on the boards of trustees of the Tennessee Nature Conservancy and Leadership Nashville. [1] He is a former member of the Nashville Rotary Club. [1] In 2011, the State of Tennessee passed Resolution 248 in his honor. [1]

Personal life

He married Wendy Williams on December 29, 1973. [1] They have three children Jeb, Matt, and Kristin Beasley. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Bill Haslam, State of Tennessee House Joint Resolution No. 248 Archived 2016-03-06 at the Wayback Machine , April 21, 2011
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Flynns, Beasley honored by law school", Vanderbilt Register, May 22, 2006
  3. 1 2 Vanderbilt Law School: Distinguished Award Recipients
  4. 1 2 Wray, Harmon L. Jr. (1986). "Cells for Sale". Southern Changes. Southern Regional Council. 8 (3): 3–6. Retrieved January 25, 2016. Thanks to effective lobbying by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the CCA bid was tabled last year by the Democratically-controlled state legislature. The action came during a special session called for the prison crisis by Republican governor Lamar Alexander, a CCA supporter who once rented a garage apartment to law student Tom Beasley. Alexander has spent seven years overseeing an unconstitutional prison system but has never set foot inside one of his state's prisons.
  5. Guenther, Lisa (2017). "Prison Beds and Compensated Man-Days: The Spatio-Temporal Order of Carceral Neoliberalism". Social Justice. 44 (2-3 (148)): 31–54. ISSN   1043-1578. JSTOR   26538381.
  6. Matt Pulle, "Elephant in the Room: At only 39, GOP golden boy Gus Puryear is a Bush judicial appointee, but congressional Democrats are targeting his inexperience and deep Republican ties:, Nashville Scene, March 6, 2008
  7. 1 2 Karin Miller (January 4, 1998), Doctor Crants is no doctor -- he's America's private prison warden, South Coast Today
  8. 1 2 3 Byron Eugene Price (2006). Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?. ISBN   0275987388. prison privatization continues to be one of the most controversial issues in public policy. Although sold to the public as a cost-saving measure, the privatization of prisons has not only led to significant changes in policy making and the management of prisons, but has also generated widespread concern that incarceration has become a profit-making industry. That, in turn, strengthens calls for policies on mandatory-minimum sentencing that keep the prison industry growing. After all, in order to be successful business enterprises, prisons will need occupants.
  9. Quade, Vicki (November 1983). "Jail Business: Private firm breaks in". American Bar Association Journal. Vol. 69, no. 11. pp. 1611–1612. JSTOR   20756517.
  10. Harmon L. Wray, Jr. (1989). "Cells for Sale". Southern Changes: The Journal of the Southern Regional Council. 8 (3). Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  11. Donna Selman; Paul Leighton (2010). Punishment for Sale: Private Prisons, Big Business, and the Incarceration Binge. New York City: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN   9781442201743.
  12. CEO of Prison Realty Trust terminated, Nashville Business Journal, July 31, 2000
  13. Rupert Neate (June 16, 2016), "Welcome to Jail Inc: how private companies make money off US prisons", The Guardian , Austin, Texas, retrieved February 13, 2017, In a bid to cut costs, more state prisons and county jails are adding healthcare to the growing list of services that are outsourced to for-profit companies