Paying off debt increases shareholder equity. The nice thing about CXW's debt is that they build to meet demand by the states, which won't run out of money in bad times.
State governments hate to spend money building prisons. They would rather rent the space for inmates.
A governor once told a group I was in that when a governor takes office, he tells his prison commissioner, "I don't want to HEAR ANYTHING about the prisons while I am in office." If the state has to raise many millions to build a new prison, the public blows a fuse. By having it done privately, the problem is solved and the state can spend its money on politically popular things.
CXW has 1.7 billion dollars worth of land and improvements, which means that they have a large equity.
I have been long for a while, and am enjoying the ride.