Learning Team A
June 9, 2010
Advantages and Disadvantages of Private Prisons and Jails
In the United States, prison overcrowding and budget cuts within the criminal justice system have lead to an increase in the need and the development of private prisons and jails. According to Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (2010), "A private prison is a place in which individuals are physically confined by a third party that is contracted by a local, state, or federal government agency. Private prison companies typically enter into contractual agreements with local, state, or federal governments that commit prisoners and then pay a per diem or monthly rate for each prisoner confined in the facility” (Private Prisons, para. ). There are several advantages and disadvantages to private prisons and jails, as well as conflict.
The government believes that contracting with reputable private firms is one way to cut cost in prisons and eliminate overcrowding. Studies have shown that private prison construction is 24% lower than state built systems (Reed, 2003). Along with cutting cost, a private facility will allow the government to increase housing capacities at a rapid rate. For example in Houston, Texas; a new Immigration and Naturalization Service facility was estimated to cost $26,000 per bed and built in 30 months through government construction (Reed, 2003). A private firm did the job at $14,000 per bed and took less than six months to build (Reed, 2003). With the cost of construction being decreased and time saved, overcrowding was also reduced.
Private facilities can offer officials powerful tools to ensure good conduct (Segal, 2001). Private contracts can be a powerful tool against the abuse of authority. An effective performance-based facility will reward private firms for providing the care public officials require, and penalize firms for breaking such contract (Segal, 2001).... [continues]
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