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Privatization of Prisons and Jails?

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Should the government be able to give up its responsibility for the custody of an individual and engage in contracts with private organizations to provide privatization of prisons and jails? Assume this includes only convicted offenders.

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RESPONSE:

1. Should the government be able to give up its responsibility for the custody of an individual and engage in contracts with private organizations to provide privatization of prisons and jails? Assume this includes only convicted offenders.

In recent years, there has been much debate over the privatization of prisons. The argument for privatization stresses cost reduction, whereas the arguments against it focus on standards of care, and the question of whether a market economy for prisons might not also lead to a market demand for prisoners (i.e. tougher sentencing for cheap labor). While privatized prisons have only a short history, there is a long tradition of inmates in state and federal-run prisons undertaking active employment in prison for low pay. Private companies which provide services to prisons combine in the American Correctional Association, which advocates legislation favorable to the industry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_prison_population#Privatization

See article below, which states that the federal government has already given up some of its responsibilities, as there are already private prisons and jails, which house only about 5% of the U.S. inmate population. However, political bickering between the Democrats controlled executive branch and the Republican controlled legislative branch is playing out in the battle over what the real outcome of privatization may be. Research is increasing on the positive effects of privatization of prisons and jails, both in the U.S. and in other countries as well (see article below for more detail).

As mentioned in the article below, the two largest companies, Corrections Corporation of America and Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, together control nearly 75 percent of the total private facility capacity and are both publicly traded corporations with worldwide operations (for current NYSE information on these companies, refer to CXC for Corrections Corp. of America and WHC for Wackenhut). As the smaller companies are not publicly traded corporations and none, to my knowledge, has a world wide web site, specific information about the scope of their operations is not readily available. However, an examination of the current privatization battle being waged in the state of Florida, and the involvement of the "big two" private prison operators, provides a good case study of implementation issues surrounding correctional privatization For example, Florida houses 96 percent of its 59,851 state inmates (as of January 1, 1997) in 56 public prisons and 4 percent of its inmates in the five private prisons discussed above. The following exhibit, provided by the Florida Legislature, Office of Program Analysis and Government Accountability (Report No. 96-69, March 1997), shows the location of the public and private facilities (see full article below for specifics, which is also available eon-line at http://web.jjay.cuny.edu/~nbenton/crju709/conf/culp/impl.html)

Article:

As we have seen thus far, private prisons and jails are currently housing only about five percent of the U.S. inmate population. Private prisons ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses if the government should be able to give up its responsibility for the custody of an individual and engage in contracts with private organizations to provide privatization of prisons and jails, as it related to convicted offenders.

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