T Nation

Privatization of Prisons


#1

Is anyone really worried about this? Running prisons has always been the governmnent's job.

If a private company can run a prison it means it's a business. A business that's listed on the stock exchange and has share holders. Some companies are privately held. A business is for profit, right? So to generate profit they will need more and more prisoners to fill their cells. I can easily see how this will influnence legislation in the US. We all know the corruption that takes place, the last thing we need is another powerfull lobby group influencing policies that may reduce the ammount of arrests for simple things like cannabis possesion. Let's face it, it's getting easier and easier to slip up and fall down in the good old USA, and can we really be suprised? After all we imprison more people then any other opressive regime in the world, we live under the threat of "screw up once and go to jail".

Already the laws have been influenced, IMO. Minnimum MANDATORY sentencing guarantees income to shareholders of prison companies. What's the point of even having judges anymore? It's all by the numbers people.


#2

No. They can generate profit with the millions that are already in prison. They will need more prisoners to increase their profits.

Do the crime, do the time.


#3

What is this, elementary school?

I have a feeling that if you or someone who is close to you, an overall good person and contributor to society, gets into a situation where they end up in jail you won't be singing any fucking nursery rhymes.


#4

Your feeling is wrong.


#5

What is that strange melody I hear? Oh, it's the LA-LA song! I didn't know ostriches could sing.


#6

Are you worried about privately held prisons, or getting arrested for smoking weed?

Competition breeds innovation and efficiency. I think privately held prisons aren?t a bad idea at all when the prison system is as overcrowded as it is. Minimum mandatory sentencing has virtually nothing to do with privately held prisons--it is intended to give judges a sliding scale of sentencing and to act as a deterrent for would-be criminals. It also expedites the deathly slow legal system. You extrapolating all this to a "big brother" scenario with privately held prison corporations (which corporations are they by the way?) is ridiculous. Do you even know the percentage of prisons that are privately held?

Do you know the difference between a prison and a jail?

Do you know what kind of planning, technology, and operations management goes into running a prison, and how difficult it is to make any sort of profit? You can't just say "we're a prison!," throw a bunch of dudes in a U-Store-It unit with some Hostess snack cakes and start collecting federal monies. I don't know if any of these corporations are even traded publicly, but it sure would take a lot of convincing to make me a shareholder.

I'm not saying that you're wrong, I'm just saying that you didn't really do your homework and you don't really know what you're talking about.


#7

well i did do my homework on this, but whether i did or didn't does not invalidate the topic. Don't fall to the line of attacking the person instead of the topic. I just didn't feel like typing everything i had to say, but the main issue of discussion here is the possible dark side of having private prisons built to generate and increase profits. Especially when the corporations are publicly traded and built their new prisons in very economically depressed communities, which benefit from jobs. Jobs which then become a leverage in pushing for growth of said system to sustain communities. This also makes it more difficult to reverse policies which could affect prisoner numbers in a negative way, imo.


#8

Well if you did your homework then why don't you present the facts so people can have educated opinions rather than ones based on your interpretation of what is going on. I fall to the line of attacking what YOU said and not "the topic" because you did not present the topic, you merely presented your opinion.

I really am curious to know the percentage of prisons that are privately held, and from that, the percentage of those that are publicly traded.


#9

RIT, it is not Gregus' job to presents facts so that others can respond with educated opinions. The onus of education falls on the one with the opinion. If you really are curious about the stats you mentioned, then YOU should find out for yourself from a reputable source, not a poster on the net.

Anyhoo, as far a privatization of prisons, I am against it. Yes competition breeds innovation and efficiency, but we are not talking about a good or service offered to a consumer here. You could say that the consumer is the government and then the taxpayer, but we have made it a rule not to buy and sell people. Prisons should be about rehabilitation, not a place to warehouse individuals.
As far as mandatory sentences go, I am not in favor of them. What is the point of having judges? A society is made up of individuals and crimes are committed individually, not in a cookie cutter fashion. With privatization there is a possibility of lobbyists in the ear of legislators who could influence how many people go to jail and for how long.


#10

I suspect the same types of problems occur in both private and government run prisons.


#11

Rampant anal sex?

You're probably right, I just don't want the people running the prison concerned with only the bottom line. Sure, a government run prison has to worry about the bottom line and the appropriate use of their budget, but a private company would gain or lose the contract depending solely on the bottom line.

I am not a fan of big government but this is one area where i think governmental control is appropriate.


#12

Just from the local news and from friends who have worked in both the private and state run prisons here in Colorado you get the feel there is a big difference.

The private run prisons have an extremely high turnover rate due to undermanning and very poor pay combined with dangerous conditions to work in.

The State run prisons pay substantially higher with fairly good state benefits and a very good retirement package. The training and safety standards are very high.

I think most private prisons starting pay is $9.00 hr where as the starting pay at the state is $30,000 yr.


#13

Not that there is anything wrong with that.


#14

As a C.O. I'm going to have to sort of echo what elk has to say. Privatization is a horrible idea, it was like privatization in airport security, it does not work. Do you know what a cell phone runs for in a state prison(black market of course)? About 1000 dollars prepaid with a calling card. Someone making 9 dollars an hour is a hell of alot more likely to bring one in than me who makes substantially more. Then you have drugs, prison escapes you name it and it's way more likely to happen.

If c.o.'s are not LE you are going to have many more problems, they will be held to much lesser standards. You have to ask yourself, who do you want watching these killers, rapists and child molesters? Me, who has 12 weeks of academy training and makes enough money or Joe Schmoe the drug dealer who has never been caught dealing and is now on the same cell block as his gang bangin' buddy who was arrested last week, only difference is Joe is now the private guard in charge of keeping the 'banger behind bars. I know who I want watching all these people deemed by the state and federal govt. to dangerous for society. In new jersey it is illegal to privatize prisons. As for mandatory 85% of sentences served for violent offenders I am all for it, and thats the only mandatory sentencing guidelines NJ superior court judges follow.

In corrections we don't get paid for what we don't do 90 percent of the time we get paid to go 6 deep into a dorm of 36 people who don't want to lock down in their cells for the night and throw blows until they are all flex cuffed and stuffed, remeber that the next time you think one is over paid or just a jail guard :wink:.


#15

I just re-read this tripe. You make it sound like you can be walking along, take a wrong turn and end up in jail.

You don't "get into a situation" where you end up in jail. You commit a crime, get arrested, get tried, get convicted, and then end up in jail.


#16

In my opinion, correctional services are one of the very few things government should operate. Not for the reasons listed in Gregus's post, as I don't necessarily think private operators would do a worse job, or that profit would corrupt the system, but due to the importance of government retaining control over what happens inside the prison walls. There is a delicate balance to be kept inside a prison. I am not commenting on how well US prisons are functioning at present, I honestly don't know. Neither am I claiming Canada has it right - far from it. My comment is that it is best for government to have that direct control, regardless of how well they are exercising it at present.

This may seem like I'm going off on a tangent here, but I think that is the crux of the argument. Why do our prisons exist, and how much control do we want (though our elected representatives) over what goes on in our prisons.

I had this discussion awhile back on another thread, so sorry if I sound like I am repeating myself. Someone pointed out that prisons exist to rehabilitate. This is not entirely true. Prisons exist to punish, to rehabilitate, to protect the public and to deter crime. Punishment and rehabilitation are often contradictory goals. It would be much easier to achieve one if the other were not a concern. We cannot throw away or discount the importance of measured retribution. It is a core part of what makes us human, and it is not an evil desire. It is also one of the few human needs that we can achieve better as a society than we can individually.

There are other things to consider as well. Certain prisoners will not want to be rehabilitated. Some prisoners will be beyond the scope of rehabilitation. Some prisoners will be rehabilitated but will still need to be punished for their crimes. And some prisoners are potentially so dangerous that we cannot take a chance on releasing them regardless of apparent progress.

Of course we still need to have somewhat of a focus on rehabilitation. Most prisoners will eventually be released. Even those who wont will live a better life (and will be much less costly) inside the prison walls if they can work through their issues. There is no way around it. All sentencing goals are important even though they can be at odds with each other. Prisons are not big holding pens. They are an important and complex government responsibility.


#17

I think privatized prisons are a bad idea. I propose, in all seriousness, that we take our worst offenders and ship them out to older cultures that are wiser than us in the ways of incarceration. I advocate a few years in the tender loving care of a Turkish prison, or on the receiving end of a Singaporean bamboo shaft.


#18

Privatization is a bad idea. Trying to increase profit leads to worse conditions for prisoners and worse conditions and worse pay for guards and less safe prisons. They can make plenty of profit that way. Cut back on guards, guards pay, food, activities, and build a bunch of those warehouse style prisons with cenral bathrooms and endless rows of bunkbeds in one big room. Take the same money the government uses and spend less on the operation of the prison and put a bunch in their pocket. I don't think open market competition belong in prisons, except when it comes to collect calls and commisary. Heck why not build prisons in China. It would be cheaper to build, staff, and run. From what I've heard I don't think most private prisons are terrible compared to state and federally run ones but I have heard of lower pay and worse inmate services.
I don't even think they need to incarcerate more people than they do now. All they need to do is replace state run with private prisons. I don't see how they could incarcerate more people. I read on some website that in the last thirty years prisoner population has increased 800%. I know the general population has not increased that much. I'm sure the high rates have to do with drug convictions and sentances. Whatever is going on, too many people are in prison. Another statistic that site had was that if incarceration rates remain unchanged 1 in 20 people or about 5% of the current population will do prison time sometime in their life. I think about 20 people posted on this thread, so who wants to go to prison for steroids or some other lame reason like getting in a fight and beating someone up? Doogie? You'd have a nice time in one of those terrible Texas prisons. Don't say stupid stuff like "do the crime do the time" and take a mindless harline stance on incarceration unless you know what you are talking about or you have done time. If you haven't, you can't imagine what it is like to be locked up. Also, America incarcerates five times as many people per capitaas Canada and 7 times as many as most European democracies.
I think prisons should only be built to physically remove the worst offenders from society so they can't harm it. A byprodcut would be deterance from the threat of prison time. I don't think prisons should punish people and I don't think they can rehabilitate people. I don't have all the answers but I think locking up so many people because of a war on drugs they are losing anyway and locking up so many people to rot when most will eventually get out anyway and be more violent and racist and destitude when they get out is good for this country.


#19

Oops only ten people have posted on this thread. Well maybe you will only have to spend awhile in county, not prison.


#20

18 On my count, but i passed basic math.