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The Drain of Public Prison Systems and the Role of Privatization:
A Case Study of State Correctional Systems

(Released February 2010)

podcast link 
  by David W. Miller  


Key Citations



Part II


Part I provided a brief summary on the history of the privatization movement of prisons in the United States. It began by detailing the 19th Century Convict Lease System to show how the operation of private prisons has drastically changed, leading to better prison environments, conditions, and services provided in prisons, as indicated by the fact that more private prisons are accredited by the ACA than public prisons. Further, the top two companies, Wackenhut and CCA, which operate the majority of privately operated prison in the United States, appear to operate more cost-effectively than public prisons, and also offer better quality. Indeed, one researcher noted that the discussion of quality in publicly operated prisons has become an inside joke for correctional personnel because of the high degree of overcrowding. The last section in part I explored the correlation with tougher policy that focuses on harsher and longer sentences without parole or probation services as an initial option and the increase in the prison population. As mentioned, whether one feels these policies were justified or not, unquestionably, they have led to more prisoners being housed in correctional facilities.

Part II summarizes research identifying factors that led to increased costs for public prisons before comparing costs, recidivism rates, and quality of services between public and private prisons. Closing remarks identify, based on a review of literature, how public and private prisons can work together to continue to decrease correctional facility costs.

Go To Factors Increasing Costs

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