Private Prisons

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An Assessment of
Prison Privatization
Sharon Baumann-Heller
ORG 8575
Michael Mills
August 12, 2012

Over-crowding in our federal, state, and local prisons, along with a depressed economy, has resulted in a trend toward privatization of these facilities. This paper examines the core issues surrounding private prisons in the areas of cost-effectiveness, recidivism, and the special needs of specific groups of inmates, including the elderly and mentally challenged. It explores problems related to the prison industry in general and whether privatization is the solution to these problems.

An Assessment of
Prison Privatization
Reid (2008) notes that proponents of private prisons tout these facilities to be as safe as public prisons, while opponents fear this may not be the case. Questions surround the safety and economic feasibility of private prisons, specifically claims that they can be operated more cost-effectively, and whether they create lower recidivism rates than their public counterpart. Proponents point out the advantages of utilizing private prisons to house special offenders, including women, juveniles and others that may be at risk in traditional prison settings, such as the elderly or mentally challenged. Opponents say that no empirical evidence exists to substantiate these claims. Regardless of which position is deemed valid, the debate over private versus government run prisons has forced the criminal justice system to rethink some of its traditional policies and beliefs. This has caused many to believe that competition from the private sector could have a positive impact on corrections as a whole. With the present state of the economy and the overcrowded conditions of correctional facilities across the United States, it seems...
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