Essay On Prison Privatization

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The effect of prison privatization on incarceration rates and operating costs is a highly debated issue since the first privately operated prison entered into a contractual agreement in the early 1980s. The government already contracted out specific services such as inmate transportation, healthcare, training, and food preparation, to private companies. When Richard Nixon introduced his War on Drugs campaign in 1971, the incarceration rate quickly increased and by the 1980s had already tripled (Whitehead, 2012). In addition to prison overcrowding, local, state, and federal governments found it increasingly difficult to contain the escalating costs of operating prisons. Mega-corporations stepped in and offered a solution. They would not only cover basic contracting services but also completely manage and operate entire prisons. In the last three decades, states struggling financially to operate prisons turned to private companies for help under the auspice that private companies can operate prisons more efficiently and “eliminate wasteful bureaucracy that often characterizes government” (Brickner, et al, 2011). The assertion is that outsourcing the responsibility of running a prison to a private contractor, and states only paying based on occupancy, meant states could significantly reduce their costs.

In 1984
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“Imprisonment in the United States has increased significantly, spurred by criminal laws that impose steep sentences and curtail the opportunity to earn probation and parole ” (ACLU, 2011). In the years since the advent of private prisons, incarceration rates have reached historic levels because of not only harsher sentences and deliberately sabotaging opportunities for probation and parole, but also states manipulate the court system in order to help private prisons maintain higher occupancy rates, run the prison, and get a cut of the
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