The debate on the privatization of prison creates mixed feelings in America, proponents and antagonists have had their reason and evidence on the matter. However, from a Christian perspective, the privatization of prisons is unsuitable since it is characterized by injustice, racism, unaccountability, and corruption. This essay critically analyzes the justification of prisons’ privatization and proves that a disease exists in private prisons that need elimination.
Privatized prisons existed in the history of America during the colonial period and after the civil war. This article argues that limited research conducted interferes with the assessment of the effectiveness of private correctional facilities. The claims against the privatization of correction systems are based on ideologies and personal perspectives (Lindsey et al., 2016). Private correctional systems are not entirely under the drive to make profits, but instead, they help public prison systems reduce costs, overcrowding, and achieving correctional goals. Private companies also manage almost 58 percent of community-based facilities such as reentry centers and halfway houses and harbor an approximate of 31 percent juvenile offenders. Besides, the private sector engages in tasks like fines assortment, residential facilitation, jail operations, and parole supervision.
According to Lindsey et al. (2016), private prisons provide specialized services to the state, such as food services, educational services, drug treatment, health services, and commissary services. The authors argue that seven dimensions justify the relevance of private correctional facilities and emphasize critical research should prelude before opposing their existence. The article insists that private prisons offer more efficient and effective services that the government to lower the burden of duties in public prisons. For example, private prisons reduce overcrowding in public facilities by categorical offenders’ imprisonment by exclusively operating drug and mental privatized prisons and providing a better digital electronic surveillance which the public correction may not offer. Private correctional facilities provide high quality and quantity services that reduce recidivism by a higher rate; this is because they tend to treat criminals at an individual level and treat issues differently. The services provided by private companies are cost-effective and yet achieve desired outcomes similar to public companies. For instance, they help reduce costs on the government by taking the duty of incarceration of illegal immigrants who otherwise would lead to financial strain in the state prisons. The authors argue that private prisons are innovative and flexible in their operations, and most of them provide incentives to workers to boost their performance in realizing correctional goals.
The authors of the article indicate the relevance of prison privatization in an interesting debate, and indeed they are significant in the state. Also, according to the author, further empirical research on the effectiveness of private prison need to be conducted, and this should prove that such facilities are similar to public correctional systems. However, the authors fail to answer questions of transparency and accountability. Another issue the authors fail to address is whether there is an adequate need for privatization of prison. The article neither contradicts the evidence that opposes privatization on a strong foundation and, to some extent, seems to agree with critics. Although the authors believe that limited research has been carried out on the performance of private prisons, no evidence disapproves of the validity of the existing arguments against prison privatization. Specifically, corruption in private entities still is prevalent, and therefore, the profit motive and injustice in private companies stand disapproved.
Schultz ( 2015) analyzes the private prison industry’s performance using criteria such as the quality provided, cost, recidivism rates, and inmate rights. He argues that the prison privatization should be reformed or abolished since the profit-making aim of the private institutions contradicts with the ambitions of the justice system. Ethically, government goods and services can only be provided to the public at the ultimate best by the state officials. Prisoners in contemporary society have turned into commodities that private prisons struggle to acquire. In anticipation of accommodating many prisoners as possible, the private prison fails to monitor and categorize inmates according to their risk properly; eventually, the low risks inmates upgrade their prowess in criminal activities. Since private prison depends on the numbers of prisoners for their success, they lobby for mandatory minimum sentences and harsh parole board. The private industry presses for harsh sentencing and punitive measures to ensure their beds are always occupied and benefit from inmates for a long time.
The author also argues that private prisons do not reduce recidivism rates as it is assumed. A study was done at a sample of approximately 23,000 inmates to compare recidivism rates in private, and public prisons disclosed that inmates incarcerated in private prisons had higher recidivism rates than their counterparts in the public systems (Schultz, 2015). Consequently, there is no solid proof that private facilities are better at reducing recidivism rates. Also, the claims that the private industry reduces costs and tax burden on citizens is invalid since they are maintained and monitored by the state, which means taxpayers still pay for incarceration in the private industry. Private correctional facilities lower-cost operations by reducing salaries to their staff, public staff receive a salary that is 41 percent above the private staff’s salary. They also tend to employ lowly trained staff to cut costs and maximize profits; the result is that private prisons register high rates of assault cases and deaths. The low salaries hamper the morale of the prison staff, and they deliver poor services. The turnover reports for private prison range at 52 percent while public prison rage at 16% annually. Private prison agenda is more inclined on profits rather than efficient service delivery.
Private prisons compromise the rights of inmates. Inmates in private facilities usually work in prison farms and are denied compensation, unemployment benefits, and minimum wages. Besides, they are overworked compared to prisoners in public facilities. In addition, private prisons deny prisoners access to courts to file grievances. They do so by threatening inmates with concerns (organizational barriers) and limiting access to libraries and legal aids (structural barriers). This incident is confirmed by a study of 80 interviews from state and private prisons. The results indicate that both suffer from organizational barriers, but inmates in the private sector faced regulatory obstacles to a higher level (Schultz, 2015).
Privatization of prison raises questions of accountability and transparency. The main agenda of private prison companies in the involvement in providing correctional services is to make profits; this is the main factor that limits the efficiency of private prisons. The desire to maximize profits has corrupted the initial intentions of the state in seeking help from the public sector; this has led to poor service delivery and injustice in America. The private sector goes the extent of crafting policies that will increase the number of inmates so that they can make a profit. In addition, to advocate for prison privatization, they spend lots of money to lobby parties to support them. Indeed, the evidence discussed by Schultz justifies that the privatization of prisons should be reformed or phased out completely.
In conclusion, although private prisons provide useful services to the state, their profit motive, injustice, and unaccountability tarnish their significance in America. If change is desired, the private correctional facilities should be eradicated, and more efforts should be focused on the state correctional systems. The impacts of turning attention and resources to the state prisons will be noticeable, and recidivism rates will reduce such that private prisons will be of no use.
Lindsey, A. M., Mears, D. P., & Cochran, J. C. (2016). The privatization debate. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 32(4), 308-327. https://doi.org/10.1177/1043986216660006
Schultz, C. (2015). Prison Privatization: Driving Influences and Performance Evaluation. Themis: Research Journal of Justice Studies and Forensic Science, 3(5). http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/themis/vol3/iss1/5