Arguments Against Private Prisons
a private prison takes over responsibility for the administration of punishment
and rehabilitation, it overtakes the inherent responsibility of the public
discretionary function at the expense of inmates’ liberty interests (Anderson,
entities that are in charge of inmate care create clear legal and moral
§ According to the
Supreme Court, Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments
cannot delegate discretionary governmental functions to private entities that
have financial stakes in which this power of discretion would be applied
day-to-day decisions of punishment by prison employees are inherently
discretionary and cannot be effected by the goals of the operator without
violating prisoners’ due process rights (Anderson, 2009).
prison employees often have stock in their company or receive some type of
profit-incentive, and as a result, this profit motive can directly influence
their professional decisions (i.e. longer sentences and no goodtime) (Anderson,
are hardly noticed
prisons have been used by the penal system as a strategy to manage overcrowding
prisons at a lower cost. However, these benefits are hardly noticeable while
also failing to meet humanitarian and social problems that are presented by
private prisons (Anderson, 2009). Some experts say that private prisons
perpetuate the problem of overcrowding.
o The government use current expenditures in the budget or use capital bonds to construct private prisons (Schwartz & Nurge, 2004). This arises the ethical issue of funding when constructing private prisons.
calculating the cost of private prisons, lawmakers fail to consider the
long-term indirect costs and unexpected costs of private prisons. Indirect
costs include recidivism, compliance of monitoring and enforcement procedures,
and legal challenges (Schwartz & Nurge, 2004).
Florida, recidivism rates for adult males, adult females, and juveniles have no
significant difference between public and private inmates (Bales et al., 2005).
§ Even though
private prisons have the ability to experiment and try new programs to increase
their chances of post-release success, this expectation of enriching programs
to reduce recidivism has not occurred by private prisons (Bales et al., 2005).
negatively impacts the treatment, rehabilitation, and the care of prisoners due
to the for-profit motivations.
measures lead to decreased quality of care.
§ Because private
prison companies are seeking profit, these companies work to reduce costs
wherever possible. These cost-cutting measures are likely to lead to safety risks and
inadequate delivery of services (Anderson, 2009).
a 1992 study, federal and state prisons outperformed private prisons in the
area of care, which included stress, illness, health care delivered, dental
care, counseling, and staffing for programs and services. (Logan, 1992).
§ Because private
prison employees receive fewer benefits and less pay, the turnover is higher
for correctional officers. The average starting salary for private correctional
officers is $18,000 and $23,000 for public correctional officers (Chang &
Thompkins, 2002). As a result, private prisons must offer overtime or reduce
the number of training hours. Private prison guards receive 35% fewer training
hours than public prison guards (Anderson, 2009).
officer turnover rate in private prison is 43% compared to 15% for public
prisons (Blakely & Bumphus, 2004).
Ohio, private prison employees carried weapons even though there was no
formal weapons training (Anderson, 2009).
Texas, private prison employees watched videos of beating inmates as their
training (Anderson, 2009).
§ Since staffing
accounts for 70% of the prison budge, private prisons often cut costs in labor
(Blakely & Bumphus, 2004).
prisons employee 15% fewer guards per prison than public prisoners (Anderson,
2009). As a result, violence among inmates and assaults on correctional
officers is more frequent in private prisons.
2001, a study found private prisons have 65% more inmate-on-inmate assaults and
49% more inmate-on-staff-assaults (Anderson, 2009).
§ With a large
turnover of staff, the security of prison operations becomes vulnerable.
prisons have higher rates of positive detection rates for unauthorized
substances compared to public prisons (Camp & Gaes, 2002). This is likely to
indicate a pattern of poor security practices within private prisons.
from prison are often a rare occurrence. In 1999, BOP had one escape from their
facility while private prisons accounted for 23 escapes. When an escape does
occur, it is likely to indicate loopholes in security practices.
Ohio, five murders escaped a maximum-security private prison.
§ The food budget
can easily be manipulated compared to other parts of the budget. As a result,
it is important to examine the food quality in prisons. In a case study of Taft
Correctional Institution (a private prison), this private institution ranked
the worst in quality of food, variety of food, and amount of food compared to all
BOP facilities (Camp et al., 2002).
goals of private prisons are to profit and as result private prisons disregard
the goals of the justice system of inmate rehabilitation and deterrence.
§ For example, deterrence
would lead to fewer inmates which reduces private prisons’ profits (Anderson,
prisons encourage three-strikes laws and get tough on crime.
parole, and good behavior programs are likely to be discouraged in private
prisons because this would cause fewer profits for private prisons (Anderson,
§ Private prisons
lobby for harsh criminal laws to increase profit at the cost of inmates’
1998 election cycle, private prisons contributed $540,000 to 361 politicians
illegal means of influencing lawmakers were used by private corporations such
as Correctional Services Corporation (CSC) who provided free chauffeurs to
lawmakers (Anderson, 2009).
were also used as method to encourage private prisons. In 2009, two
Pennsylvania judges received $2.6 million to oppose alternative and lenient
sentences for juveniles (Anderson, 2009).
negatively affects recidivism rates (Anderson, 2009).