Prisons: The Impact Of Privatization On Prison Quality

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The Impact of Privatization on Prison Quality Crime policies adopted in the US since the 1980s as well as federal and state budget constraints have facilitated a crisis in the nation’s prisons. Campaigns like The War on Drugs, harsher sentencing policies, and the adoption of mandatory minimum sentences have resulted in overcrowding of the country’s prison system. The need for managing the rapid growth in prison population has driven the government to look for efficient alternatives to provide correctional services without increasing public spending, including the privatization of penitentiaries. Proponents of privatized prisons have long claimed that the private sector could operate prisons more efficiently. Subsequently, the US Government…show more content…
The typical examination of private prisons seeks a comparison between public and private institutions based on numerical data, including average cost per inmate, total expenses, profits, and violence rates. However, these studies often compare facilities that do not share similar characteristics (total population, security level, and average age of inmates, for instance) and consider different factors when evaluating the impact of privatization. As a result, they often reach ambiguous conclusions regarding the impact of privatization on prison quality. In order to provide a distinct perspective on the privatization of correctional facilities, this essay will take a different approach. Instead of comparing public and private facilities, it will focus on analyzing the potential benefits of prison privatization and examining the economic factors that translate the theoretical advantages of privatization into actual gains, keeping in mind that private firms should be motivated with external incentives to increase the quality and efficiency of the prison…show more content…
The most crucial factor that maximizes the benefits of privatization is market competition. As Moore claims, “it is competition that creates efficiency and innovation, because competition punishes inefficiency and inertia”. Knowing they could be replaced if they fail to deliver, private firms would have strong incentives to provide quality service. Moreover, another key element that can drive private firms to maximize efficiency and quality are financial rewards. This argument is supported by Peter Kyle in “Contracting for Performance: Restructuring the Private Prison Market.” He affirms that “quality improvements are neglected by private prison companies faced with an absence of financial incentives.” As Kyle notes, federal and state governments should “turn to performance-based contracts that incentivize quality improvements by rewarding positive
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