Privatizing Prisons?

Topics: Prison, Privatization, Public sector Pages: 8 (3140 words) Published: October 11, 2013


Privatizing prisons?

Abstract
The main goal of a prison that is considered to be privatized is to maximize the profits within that prison. In order to maximize profits the budgets that include services for the inmates, protection for the public and staff, as well as the salary and benefits of the staff of the privatized prison may be analyzed and cut. By allowing the privatization within the prison system the public, the staff, and the inmates will find themselves in jeopardy. Some prisons that have been privatized have taken only a portion of the prison and privatized the services that are entailed in the prison system, where other prisons have encompassed the privatization of the entire prison.

During the evolving process of the privatization of prisons the public has seen various corruption schemes, escapes that endanger the public, horrific conditions that the inmates are subjected to, and not to mention salaries and benefits that are below standard compared to that of security guards under the employ of a governmentally controlled prison. Thankfully today we have state and local governments that pay private companies to house inmates humanely, but at what cost and to who?

Privatizing prisons?
Introduction
In order to give the controversial topic a sounder analysis I chose to only write about one of the governmental activities, that regarding of allowing prisons to remain under the governmental control and funding or if they should be privatized. A for-profit company is all about maximizing their profit, so how can that be beneficial to the public sector? By privatizing prisons, the public runs the risk of allowing these prisons to not uphold the standard of “providing safe and humane conditions of confinement to the human beings in their custody” (Winter & Eber, 2012). While maximizing profits privatized prisons can find themselves cutting the budgets of “essential services within the prison -- from medical care, food and clothing to staff costs and security -- at the endangerment of the public, the inmates and the staff” ("Prison," n.d.). How can the private prison benefit the public sector by having lower pay and fewer benefits to their security guards, and even not having enough guards to safely maintain control of the safety of the prisoners and themselves (Mason, 2012, p. 7)? My stance on this is that by allowing prisons to be privatized it can only cause more harm than good. Not only will the safety of the public and the staff be in jeopardy, but also the prisoners will not get the humane treatment and services that they would while in a prison that is controlled and funded by the government. History of the privatization of the prison system

How did our country begin the privatization of a prison system? Our country is full of prisons since its inception. Tracy Chang and Douglas Thompkins mentions in their article that was published in the Labor Studies Journal that the earliest prison privatization could be seen in Philadelphia at the Walnut Street Jail in 1790, where the prisoners were contracted out so that a profit would be made (Chang & Thompkins, 2002). Through the history of the United States the prison system had : “( 1) the contract, ( 2) the piece-price, ( 3) the lease, ( 4) the state-account, ( 5) the state-use system, and ( 6) public works and ways” (Chang & Thompkins, 2002, para. 21). The most well-known prison type labor is the lease: where the labor from the inmates would be sold to the highest bidder for a certain period. This type of labor was common in the South to replace slavery in agricultural production type positions in 1825. The person, or company, that would “lease” these prisoners would “assumed entire control of prisoners, including their labor, food, clothing, shelter, and discipline” (Chang & Thompkins, 2002, para. 21). Prison labor was used all the way up until 1940, when the Sumners-Ashurst Act was...

References: Ogle, R. S. (1999, September). Prison privatization: An environmental catch-22. Justice Quarterly : JQ, 16(3), 579-600. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.brenau.edu:2048/docview/228199638/abstract?accountid=9708
Perrone, D., & Pratt, T
Reilly, L. (2013, June 11). 11 products you might not realize were made by prisoners. mental_floss. Retrieved from http://mentalfloss.com/article/51037/11-products-you-might-not-realize-were-made-prisoners
Stroud, M
Winter, M., & Eber, G. (2012). Private prisons are the problem, not the solution. Retrieved from http://www.aclu.org/blog/prisoners-rights-criminal-law-reform/private-prisons-are-problem-not-solution
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