Essay about The Public-Private Prison Debate

2326 Words 10 Pages
California is suffering from a crisis in the prison system. Its facilities are operating at double capacity and " grossly deficient medical care" is the cause of at least one inmate death per week (Wood, 2008, para. 2). Because of this need for reform, the federal government is stepping in to direct the state prison’s operating procedure. Although the financial choices of each state should be free from federal control, the federal government is still known to put pressure on states to make decisions, especially when lawsuits arise. An example of federal legislation commanding state behavior is busing. The states felt that they should have the autonomy to decide whether racial integration was right for them. The federal government, however, …show more content…
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.
In Gaes’s article, his problem with the decision to transfer prisons into private hands is the lack of concrete evidence whether the concept is actually a means of savings or not. His point is that the studies that have been done bear completely different results, causing a discrepancy about actual savings. His example illustrates two different studies, one conducted by the Abt and another by the BOP. The Abt used actual figures from a public prison that was much smaller than the private prison in question. In doing so, the numbers were slanted towards favoring the privatization of prisons, as they were able to save more money per inmate by doing business on a larger scale. The BOP study, on the other hand, “estimated what expenditures would have existed for identically sized prisons,” making the comparison more realistic (2008, para. 2). His final conclusion is that further studies are necessary to determine whether the proponents of privatization are fundamentally correct in their…