Joseph Q. Kelley
Professor Dorothy Sliben
August 12, 2010
Privatization of Prisons for Business
Many feel that the line dividing the institution system and professional world should not be crossed. Privatization of prisons is a controversial topic for the business world. The advantages and disadvantages teeter on the scale of ethics. The temptation of financial gain has drawn the attention of many who seek to use the age old form of correctional rehabilitation as a way to increase their bank accounts. Through review of the prison system and its operational background with and without the influence of privatization the advantages and disadvantages of business involvement will be revealed. Through historical research of the prison system and its operation one must understand the purpose of having a prison system. According to Webster (2010), “prison means a state of confinement or captivity” (para.1). Being imprisoned or jailed is a way to create a form of punishment to provide an atmosphere leading to rehabilitation. This task has been handled for hundreds of years at the state and federal level. An individual is sentenced according to the severity of his/her offense and sent to a period of confinement corresponding with the offense. As a prisoner of the state or federal institution they must abide by the laws of that entity. The problem arises when a private entity has the authority to make decisions on the operation and legalities of handling an institution. Privatization defined by Webster (2010) is, “to change a business or industry from public to private control or ownership” (para.1). Privatization of prisons came into being because of the “tight strain on state and federal budgets” (Grapes, 2000, pg. 95). The private institutions record lower operational costs and equal quality in their institutions, the main issue concerns fall within the idea of private authority and law. The control afforded the operators of the private prison system allows them to cut cost and hire less security which has been shown to increase inmate violence. The guards are often paid less and required to do the same job as public owned prisons, which has lead to a history of high turnovers. The punishment for individuals also has the potential to be harsher when in the private sector. The purpose of this research is to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of privatization of prisons. The research questions asked will be; 1) What factors present a need for a private institution? 2) How is the public prison system different than the private? 3) Are the laws based on the same principles in private prisons as public? 4) Who can own a prison? Status, education, finances?
5) What impact does imprisonment in private versus public have on the prisoner? The significance of the research will be to identify which option private or public would be beneficial to all parties involved. Research should show the relevance of using one or the other to increase the well being of the individual, the community, and the institutional system. The assumption that would be presented would be concerning the involvement of lobbyists a possible increase in prison population would occur to create financial gain. The private systems might be filled with individuals that were wrongly imprisoned to profit those in control. For most of the first 200 years of American history, the Eighteenth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment banned torture and other barbarous punishments. Then it banned punishment that was disproportionate to the crime, such as stealing a loaf of bread. (Grapes, 2000, p.78) This amendment was created to protect the rights of the individuals in the system against similar issues that are feared to come into play in the private systems. Limitations would arise through means of regulation and how it should be handled to ensure fair practices within the system...