Privatization of American Prisons: a System for Profit Essay

8583 Words 35 Pages
Abstract

The subject of this paper will be a compilation of research on the privatization of American prisons. This will include the reasons for, the historical aspects of, and the ethical and legal problems that it can and has caused. The research methods that will be used to develop this research paper will be done through both classical use of books and use of internet-based sources. This topic is important for analysis because the privatization of American prisons is a subject that raises many ethical and legal questions on its legitimacy and effectiveness as a means of correction. One believes that the findings of this paper will show that privatization of American prisons is for the most part an ineffective means to run prisons
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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 first trend of ideological imperatives began in the late 1950's and continued to grow into the late 1970's as the public lost trust in the government. It is estimated that public trust of the government in this era declined from 80 percent in the 1950's to 33 percent by the late 1970's (Logan, 1990). This lack of trust in the government allowed for the ideological movement toward privatization. The problem with this ideological desire to take prisons away from the government and turn them over to private corporations is the basic fact that the government is the one that sentences people to prison and should be the one responsible for taking care of these inmates. By turning this care over to private corporations an ethical and legal nightmare can and has developed.

The second trend of increasing numbers of inmates was rooted in a new toughness on criminal…