Crime rates are down in America, yet there is an unproportionately large number of Americans incarcerated. This paper will delve into and examine this problem and how it is closely linked to private prisons and the issues surrounding them. While private prisons claim to be cost effective and well-run, evidence has shown that these profit-driven companies ignore ethical consequences by purposefully lengthening prisoners’ sentences, target certain groups for incarceration and maintain despicable living standards for the prisoners; ultimately, these prisons have caused more harm than good for the state.
In the 1970s and 1980s, a massive amount of inmates began fillin up the United States prison systems. This huge rate of growth in this short amount of time, has greatly contributed to the prison overcrowding that the United States faces today. In fact, the prisons are still filled to the seams. This enormous flood of inmates has made it practically impossible for prison officials to keep up with their facilities and supervise their inmates. One of the main reasons why many prisons have become overcrowded is because of states’ harsh criminal laws and parole practices (Cohen). “One in every 100 American adults is behind bars, the highest incarceration rate in the world” (Cohen). The amount of inmates in corrections systems, throughout the
In America today, there is a trend in corrections of taking the duty of running prisons out of the hands of state and federal authorities and contracting it out to private organizations. Along with the drift to privatization is a plethora of research pertaining to the subject taking many different approaches to analyzing the effectiveness. The majority of research focuses on one of three areas. The first questioning whether or not it is cost effective to make the switch. The second being the ethical problems that can and have risen from the privatization of prisons. The third being a wide painting of the change and the implications it has on society as a whole.
According to Alex Tabarrok, privately managed facilities can have cost savings of 15-25% on prison edification and 15% on administrative expenses. Likewise, private prisons generate competition and exert pressure towards public prisons. They encourage public prisons to also innovate and lower costs. Other studies (Lundahl et al. 2009, page 392) argue, “prison privatization provides neither a clear advantage nor disadvantage compared with publicly managed prisons.”
Thesis: Private prisons actually exacerbate many of the issues they were designed to solve by incentivizing increased incarceration, and at the same time they produce lower value than regular prisons while ultimately costing more, such that private prisons should be abolished and incarceration should remain exclusively public.
Private prisons have a negative effect on states and local governments. Unfortunately, the number of private prisons has been increasing since their inception in 1983 causing further problems. For-profit prisons offer no real benefits and are bad investments for states. Furthermore, private prisons beleaguer communities with high turnover rates that hurt local economies. The demands of these institutions put an excessive burden on the local community’s infrastructure. Similarly, private prisons strain the county and city legal systems. More often than not, spin-off industries and economic benefits promised by the for-profit correction industry fail to appear. Additionally, private prisons are allowed to cherry pick the least expensive
Private prisons have a monetary incentive to keep their prison filled to the max (Mason, Too Good to be True Private Prisons in America). Public prisons on the other hand spend more money and effort on rehabilitation efforts and reintroducing people back into society in a healthy manner. One way in which private prisons reduce costs is by cutting the amount of training and pay prison staff are given as well as the number of staff which in turn leads to a less safe prison. The statistics point to an increase in riots, inmate violence, and even assault on prison staff (Mason, Too Good to be True Private Prisons in America). The quality of healthcare is another major issue in private prisons compared to public prisons and is one such reason why the amount of money spent per prisoner is less in private prisons (Smith, Why the U.S. Is Right to Move Away from Private Prisons). As well as spending less on those who need it, private prisoners do a certain amount of cherry picking taking only healthier and thus cheaper prisoners to hold within their \walls (Smith, Why the U.S. Is Right to Move Away from Private Prisons). Private prisons state innovation and creative methods as the reason for saving money as opposed to public prisons but there
Over the last couple of years, there has been a major discussion as to whether you should privatize a medium-security prison in your state. They guarantee substantial savings to the state and that may be true but the effects of this would be much greater. Private prisons have been known for inmate misconduct and lead to many court cases. Penal Corporation left out that they offer inadequate compensation to staff which can lead to many problems. Finally, although it may not be factual, it is said that private prisons have no lower and maybe higher rates of recidivism.
As the number of prisoners have constantly been rising at an exceedly fast pace, several governments around the world have embraced the use of private prisons. Private prisons are confinements run by a third party, through an agreement with the government. In the United States, it is estimated that there are over 1.6 million inmates, of that there are 8% that are housed in privately-operated prisons. While the other 92% are housed in the public prison system. Private prisons have existed since the 19th century. Their use increased in the 20th century and continues to rise in some states. When a government makes an agreement with a private prison, it makes payments per prisoner or vacancy in jail on a regular basis for maintenance of the prisoners. Privatization became involved due to the fact that prisons were becoming overpopulated. Public prisons contracted the confinement and care of prisoners with other organizations. Due to the cost-effectiveness of private firms, prisons began to contract out more services, such as medical care, food service, inmate transportation, and vocational training. Over time private firms saw an opportunity for expansion and eventually took over entire prison operations. However, now their security, how they treat the inmates, and their true cost effectiveness has come into question
The United States government had been working closely with private prison corporations for over three decades. Private prisons were first constructed to help the U.S. government house an ever-expanding prison population, and to relieve the government of some expenses. Today, these privately owned facilities have stirred up controversy with the questionable results of their formation. While it can be difficult to compare private prisons to public prisons, several researchers conclude that private prison corporations are harmful to society in the United States because they hinder economic stability, establish systems that negatively impact prison staff and inmates, and
Private prisons throw the discarded inmates into the world without them receiving proper rehabilitation, expecting former criminals to not commit any crimes. Of course this approach rarely works and criminals commit another offense only to be readmitted into the system again. In fact, "[s]tates such as New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, and Vermont, which have some of the highest percentages of privatized prison beds, also have some of the highest three-year recidivism rates"(Brickner and Diaz 3-5). Private prisons do not want to reform prisoners either in order for the former prisoners to reenter into the system again so the prison can obtain even more money, or because they would rather not spend the money on the programs needed. Nevertheless, private prisons care not about the prisoners, but rather their profits and so a way to fix the problem would be to eliminate the use of private prisons. Possible solutions include returning the control of prisons to the government or making prisons non-profit
America has a major problem with overcrowding in its prisons, and action needs to be taken. Since 1970, the inmate population in the United States has increased over 700%, far greater than the general population as a whole. This has led to declining quality of life within the prison system including 8th Amendment violations and it represents a needless drain on state finances. There is simply no value in keeping non-violent convicts in the prison system, sometimes for years. The costs are high, and there is very little benefit to America. The justice system needs to be overhauled to relieve the massive crowding in US prisons.
The United States has had a long and controversial history when it comes to the U.S prison system. Holding only approximately 5% of the global population; U.S prisoners account for almost 25% of the worlds prisoners, having even more than China; a nation with almost a billion more citizens than the U.S (PrisonStudies.org) Even when considering these alarming statistics, discussing the method of caring for, feeding, and rehabilitating prisoners in the U.S is often avoided as many United States citizens are uninformed on the subject. Perhaps because of this lack on information; certain states have begun handing over the responsibilities of running U.S prisons to private companies. These privately owned prisons are run by corporations; and
Because of this fiscal pressure, governments are looking for alternatives to the public prison system. The predominant idea for reformation is privatization of prisons. Journals abound with responses to this idea including Ph.D. Gaes’s article in the National Institute of Justice Journal, L. Beaty’s article in The Case Journal, and R. Culp’s article in the Criminal Justice Policy Review.
There has been a huge debate on overcrowded prisons and the many issues that surround them. Some think we should open more prisons and some think otherwise. Some express their thoughts of treatment facilities and others think of how all effects the taxpayers. No matter what angle of this argument is being looked at, it is an issue that needs to be resolved with least consequences for everyone and to really consider all approaches with care.