Despite what you may think, private prisons have existed in the United States dating all the way back to 1852, beginning with the San Quentin state prison. Private prisons did not truly become as common as they are today though until President Ronald Reagan led a large-scale effort for increased privatization around the United States during the 1980’s. One result of this effort was a large upswing in the number of private prisons. As a result of private prisons becoming more common place, it has been seen that compared to prisons run by the government, length of sentences have gone up within private prisons, while at the same time the treatment of prisoners has gone down. This topic interests me because I believe that it should never be in the best interests of such a large and powerful group to have as many people as possible in prison for as long as possible. In my opinion, it is not ethically correct on a basic human level to ever have it in people’s best interests to keep other people in prison. I chose this topic because I have always held a strong opinion on this topic but have never had the time to do extensive research on it and either confirm or dispel my current beliefs about it.
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.
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
As prisons grow in size, governments look for new methods to aid in cutting costs and increase efficiency. Over the last decade government run institutions have been replaced with privately funded, for-profit prisons. Although it is cheaper for governments to run contract based institutions this mass industrialization of the prison system has seen many issues with corruption, decreases in efficiency and even mistreatment and exploitation of incarcerated individuals. The prison system should remain under government control and in this essay I will discuss the faults and errors of for-profit institutions and why this system should not be overseen by private corporations.
Claiming that they would be a cost effective alternative, companies started managing and running entire prisons instead of the state. As a result, the population in private prisons increased by an astounding 1600%.
The bulk of the research was performed in the late 90s after many years had passed since the implementation of privatized prisons got a substantial boost in1988 (Austin, 2001). Much of the literature centers on the cost effectiveness of contracting out prisons. The main focus of the research is first and foremost, are they saving money by contracting out. Second, if they are saving money, is it enough money to justify the other problems that naturally accompany the for profit prisons model.
A prison is a building made up of hard, cold, concrete walls and solid steel bars in which individuals, known as inmates, are physically confined and deprived of their personal freedom. This is a legal consequence that is imposed by the government to lawbreakers as a punishment for a crime they have committed and for the protection of the community. A private prison is much like a public prison except people are incarcerated physically by a “for-profit” third party who has been contracted by a government agency. These private prisons enter into an agreement with the government, and the state pays a monthly amount for every prisoner who is confined in the private facility. In both public and private prisons, incarceration cannot be imposed without the commission and conviction of a crime. Even though public and private prisons may seem to be the same in several aspects and are used to serve the same purpose, there are numerous differences between the two. At one point the Obama administration opted to put an end to private prisons; on the other hand, the Department of Homeland Security and current President Donald Trump fought for them to stay in place. The U.S Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons will realize that keeping private correctional facilities in place is a huge mistake; therefore, will opt to phase out such facilities and will stick to housing inmates in the public state-run prisons.
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.”
For instance, states like Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Ohio, and Arizona have been increasing the number of private prisons in their states. In fact, “there's been a similar surge in private prison construction as the inmate population has tripled between 1987 and 2007: Inmates in private prisons now account for 9 percent of the total U.S. prison population, up from 6 percent in 2000” (Khimm 2010). Regrettably, instead of alleviating budgetary woes these states have added new burdens to their bottom lines.
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.
dilemma with public verse private prisons is observed by countries all over the world. Furthermore, in the article Doing well and doing good: The case for privatizing prisons the Australians discuss the possibility of privatization of their prisons. However, they take note of the American experience with privatization of the prisons. The characteristics that have been noted were that they were corrupt, morally bankrupt and secretive. Contrary to the before mentioned characteristics Ms. Glushko reported that the private institutions are less expensive, more accountable, transparent and innovative. Additionally, the review article The Social Order of the underworld what goes on in the US prisons should worry the UK states that just maybe the
This type of ownership and management of prisons, though not new, only began again in recent history in the 1980's. The reasons for this development of private prisons are threefold and these three trends converged in the 1980's: the ideological imperatives of the free market, the huge increase in the number of prisoners, and the increase in imprisonment costs (Smith, 1993). In this Reaganite era it seemed that private enterprise could do any job the government had been doing cheaper and more efficiently, including running prisons.
The United States has an incarceration problem that personifies issues throughout the entire criminal justice system. "The United States, with just 5 percent of the world 's population, currently holds 25 percent of the world 's prisoners" (Khalek). This issue runs deeper than just incarceration; it permeates every level of the criminal justice system, from incarceration to probation. Many states have turned to private institutions in an attempt shed operating costs, while also increasing effectiveness throughout the criminal justice system. These acts can include anything from providing treatment programs to full blown management of the entire prison system. Overcrowding at prisons and the rising costs associated with them has led many states to turn to some form of privatization within the criminal justice system. However, privatizing the entire correction system would not be beneficial for the state, from both an ethical and a public policy standpoint.
Currently prisons are operating at above capacity because more people are coming in than are getting out. This is a trend that is going to continue to rise. The alternatives are to let people go, lower sentences or to outsource the prisoners. Letting people go on a lesser charge is an option that is being used and outsourcing to private prisons is also in use. Private prisons are better alternative because they can house the inmates of the prisons choice and in most cases do it at a lower cost. Private prisons are also held to the same or higher standards than federal prisons. “Private prisons comply with the standards of the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections and have a much higher accreditation rate than government prisons. (Thomas, 2001)” This ensures that the private facilities are complying with their contract and operating how they are supposed to be. There has only been one private prison shut down since they started popping up. This facility was