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The Privatization of Prisons and Jails Debate

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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Please see response attached (also presented below), including two supporting articles. I hope this helps and take care.

RESPONSE:

Hi,

Interesting question and a timely one indeed! Let's take a closer look.

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.

There are two sides to this argument, each providing some evidence to support their position.

According to McFarland, McGowan, and O'Toole (2002), the movement towards the privatization of corrections in the United States is a result of the convergence of two factors: the unprecedented growth of the US prison population since 1970 and the emergence out of the Reagan era of a political environment favorable to free-market solutions. Since the first private prison facility was opened in 1984, the industry has grown rapidly; gross revenues exceeded $1 billion in 1997. Indeed, there is a growing body of evidence for claims that private prisons can realize gains in efficiency. Efficiency aside, though, privatization compromises public values including safety, justice, and legitimacy will be examined.

First, most arguments for the privatization of prisons revolve around one issue: efficiency. The purpose of privatization of any government undertaking is to improve the quality of the service provided without increasing the costs, or to decrease the costs without decreasing the quality of service. It is mainly on the strength of claims to efficiency that prison privatization expands in scope. In fact, proponents believe that private prisons not only costs the taxpayer less, but also require the state-run agencies to operate more efficiently themselves. When private companies are allowed to enter into the market for prisons, they argue, state run ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains both sides of the debate of whether or not the 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. It assumes this includes only convicted offenders. Supplemented with two highly informative articles about prison privatization and incarceration.

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