Pros & cons of prison privatization

Written by misty s. bledsoe
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Pros & cons of prison privatization
The arguments for and against prison privatisation involve money. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The argument for or against prison privatisation surrounds the issue of money. Some proponents claim that privatising prison facilities will reduce the overhead at the state and federal levels. Opponents claim that privatising prisons will lead to lack of qualified security or staff, lack of building and ground maintenance and possibly delays of notification to the community of an inmate's escape.

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Space and Overcrowding

If a state can transfer inmates to a private prison, there will be room within the state prisons for more inmates or the proper amount of space for the inmates that are already there. This saves money on supplies purchased to support the current inmate population and can reduce potential violence because overall living tension is eased. If the private company went bankrupt, the doors could close, potentially prematurely releasing violent inmates.

Budget Predictions

By the state working with private prison facilities, it can cap the limit on headcount at their own facilities, therefore allowing a more accurate prediction of the actual cost to support each inmate per day. This could help during budget predictions and analysis or when applying for grants. The potential challenge is that the private prison would be allowed to increase its overall fees or claim that costs are increasing for other reasons, causing the same or further financial strain on the state.

Land Usage

Not all current prison facilities have the money to expand the building size as the inmate population grows. Private prison facilities have the ability to expand the building sizes and can structure parts of a building to be used for different types of uses from the outset. For example, a large open enclosed room can function both as a gym and have the ability to be quickly converted into a dormitory type setting in a minimal security environment. The argument against private prisons is the regulation and restriction the private prison could place on the types of inmates it would accept, taking more inmates with lesser offences compared to more serious ones.

Job Creation

Private prisons could create more jobs within local communities, strengthening the local economy. The challenge can come in getting approval to build those prisons near communities or in outlying rural areas because of overall financial fears of ongoing costs to run the facility. This is coupled with the inability to regulate prison conditions at the private level as much as you can at the state level and then being sceptical of the processes the private prison might have in place to notify the community of an inmate's escape compared to state procedures.

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