Jan 25, 2018 in Analysis

Pros and Cons of Privatizing Prisons

Private prisons involve imprisonment of criminals, in which the state enters into a contract with a private entity (the owner of the prison). This is done in order to reduce the number of inmates in state prisons, as state prisons are overcrowded today. At first glance, everything seems easy. However, actually, private prisons have many drawbacks. This paper describes the advantages and disadvantages of private prisons.

The main advantage of private prisons is the low cost of detention

Private prisons are able to make bulk purchases of essential goods that are needed for a complete operate correctly. Private prisons have a clear organizational structure, which affects the price reduction. Private prisons may employ a large number of employees that will simplify the work of the entire prison. The second advantage is the high quality of imprisonment. Privatization of prisons give rise to the competition of the owners of such a business, so each of them will try to develop a service. In turn, the government cannot create the conditions for competition in this field, because it is a complete monopoly (Austin, & Coventry, 2001). Moreover, private prisons can provide adequate conditions for prisoners, with the value of their content will not be as high as in state prisons. A third advantage is an efficiency. The government holds the key to a huge number of prisons, which has a negative impact on performance. Each an appeal, or retrial certain prisoner takes a long time. Private prisons are able to organize the operational activities, which will respond quickly to any change, amend, and update rooms and so on.

As already mentioned, private prisons are able to help the state government to the problem of overcrowding in prisons. This is an urgent problem that requires immediate solutions. State prisons are able to contain fewer and fewer criminals, and the only way out of this situation is the opening of private prisons. In addition, a significant advantage of private prisons is the income for the benefit of society. Construction and operation of new private prisons provide a huge number of jobs. The owners of the business will be forced to pay taxes, which will give an opportunity to fill the state treasury. Incidentally, the state can establish a large percentage of taxes in order to prison owner make a great benefit to society. Actual problems of the employment of immigrants can be solved through the construction and operation of private prisons. In addition, an important advantage of private prisons is an individual approach to the prisoner. As with any business, the focus should go to the client. If the offender has a serious illness (e.g. diabetes, asthma, or allergies), private prison can give him or her good conditions for controlling the disease. State prisons also do this, but they have a lot of shortcomings.

The main disadvantage of a private prison is the focus on profit

A prison is a business for its owner, so he/she thinks only about how to make money, using prisoners. A prison is a place where human rights must be respected in the same way as in freedom. Despite the fact that the “customers” of prison are criminals, they deserve adequate attitude towards them. However, private prisons carelessly refer a high likelihood to human rights. In turn, it will cause a large number of beatings and violence. In addition, the lack of private prisons is a relation to prisoners. This shortcoming is a consequence of the first drawback, however, it can be stated separately. Owners of a prison consider each prisoner as a source of income, because the prisoners do some work for free. There is a possibility that, in most cases, prison owners will not take into account the prisoner’s good behavior or early release (Patten, & McDonald, 2004). A global negative consequence is the impact of private prisons, which may appear after most state prisons will become private. The gradual seizure of the penitentiary system by private persons will lead to the fact that the owners of prisons will have an impact on public policy in the sphere of executive power and not only (ibid). Prison owners will be able to dictate their terms, which will be beneficial to them in order to improve business performance.

Security can be both an advantage and disadvantage of private prisons

Several cases of runaways from the private prison were recorded. Private prisons might not be able to ensure proper control over the prisoners, as business owners may not be aware of all the norms and standards. Organization of an effective verification of the visitors, as well as effective patrols require considerable efforts to ensure proper security. An important drawback of private prisons, which should not be overlooked, is the possible growth of corruption. Since private prisons are aimed at making a profit, the administration can ignore the enforcement of the law and the court’s decision, taking bribes to parole, or illegal transfer of goods, and so on.

The next downside of a private prison is a significant financial investment in its opening. In other words, the business owner has to register a large number of documents and resolutions, each of which requires the payment of fees, taxes and so forth. It also takes a very long time. In addition, despite the likelihood of providing quality services, some owners of prisons can save money on the content of the criminals. They can spend little funds for the training of personnel, arms, care, renovation of premises, and provision of medical care and so on. The consequences of such a relationship can be disastrous - shoots, violence among prisoners, hazing, a spread of disease and so on.

The next disadvantage of private prisons is transparency

Imprisonment in state prisons means transparent and honest policy towards prisoners and their relatives. In turn, the private jails are the property of their owners, who has the right not to disclose certain information (Austin, & Coventry, 2001). The state has no right to interfere with private property, so the private prisons can dictate their laws, implement their own policy, and develop their own standards of deprivation of liberty. Also, private prison can cause expansion of certain classes of criminals. If the offender comes from a rich family or a wealthy man, he/she will receive excellent conditions of detention. Nutrition, health care and even the attitude of the working personnel will be radically different. In turn, the people whose material wealth is lower will receive lower quality conditions.

To summarize, it should be said the following

A private prison is a good solution to the problem of supersaturation of state correctional facilities and prisons. This solution has many advantages, including high quality services, operational staff work, paying high taxes to the state are the most striking examples. However, private prisons also have a huge number of drawbacks. Opacity, savings in financial embezzlement, prosperity, corruption, violence among prisoners are only most striking of the possible consequences. Therefore, the government should develop a clear and strict policy in order to have the right to interfere in private business in this case. The culprit is the same person like everyone else, and his/her rights should not be violated. Therefore, the legislation concerning private prisons should be reviewed properly.


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