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The Changing Of The Guard: A Progressive Study Of The Privatization Of Prisons

3367 words - 14 pages

The Changing of the Guard: A Progressive Study of the Privatization of Prisons
Privatization of prisons is not exactly a novel concept. The Federal Government has been contracting out such things as the building of new prisons, the operating of prisons, and providing goods and services to prisons since 2003. Some of the companies that the government trusts to do all of this are Corrections Corporation of America, and The GEO Service Group, formerly known as Wackenhut.
Although the government sees this step as a cost cutting measure, this change has not come without its problems also its detractors. Even so, privatization of prisons and the services it takes to operate them seems ...view middle of the document...

During the late twentieth century, prisons once again hoped that they could support themselves and possibly even make a profit. The first public facility to be turned over to a private company was a secure treatment center for juvenile offenders that were violent. This transition occurred in 1976, and the number of institutions being run by private companies has increased at a rapid rate since that time.

The Changing of the Guard: A Progressive Study of the Privatization of Prisons
Statistics show that from 1995 – 2004, the number of inmates that were housed in private prisons rose from 12,534 to 98,791. Approximately seven percent of inmates are now housed in privately operated prisons in the United States.
One major reason for the increase in privately operated prisons is that the private sector claimed that they could provide more services and better services at a lower cost than that of state operated prisons. In the 1980s when corrections started operating under the private sector, their claim of more and better for less did not appear to be accurate. According to Charles H. Logan who examined the costs of public versus private corrections in 1990 “Private prisons will not necessarily be less expensive that those owned and run by the government”. Carceral (2005 p.X foreward).
More recently, a nationwide survey which the Bureau of Justice Assistance funded, concluded that the savings over government- run prisons was only one percent, thus discounting the claim made by private companies that were operating the prisons that they could reduce the cost by twenty percent.
This meager savings were brought about by lowering labor costs due to the fact that private prisons do not have as many employees as do state- run prison systems, also the savings can be attributed to lower salaries and less benefits for employees. The small one percent reduction in costs to taxpayers was not an issue because seventy percent of all private prisons received some form of tax subsidies from local and state governments due to the fact that they are for profit agencies.

The Changing of the Guard: A Progressive Study of the Privatization of Prisons
The biggest concern, however, was that the privately run prisons had a multitude of operational problems. The national survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance concluded that in private facilities, there is a higher incidence of assaults on staff and inmates than in state facilities.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons “private prisons have significantly greater problems with staff turnover, escapes, and drug use”. The New York Times ran a series of articles in 1990 and in these articles the poor health treatment, in some cases resulting in death of prisoners was detailed. The prisons that were profiled for these articles were in New York and in Alabama.
Operational problems such as these have caused concerns about public policy regarding whether or...

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