Administration Correctional Facilities In Private Hands And Public Hands

Abstract

This paper discusses administration correctional facilities with regard to two perspectives. The first perspective entails the reasons why jails should remain in public hands while the second perspective entails the reasons why the correctional system should be turned over to the private correctional industry. It will further discuss the various types challenges that each sector-private and public-may face. From the perspective of a public-sector correctional administrator, it is essential that jails are kept in public hands in order to avoid delivery of poor services by private firms that may be driven by financial motives. In most cases, it is through the criminal justice system that the guaranteed rights of human beings are deprived. From the perspective of a private-sector correctional facility manager, there are several advantages of turning the correctional system over to the private correctional industry, but this paper will discuss only two of them. There are a number of challenges, which both the public and private prisons may encounter in the course of conducting their operations. In fact, the federal prison system encounters challenges in relating to costs, and security and safety issues. There are several legal issues that require consideration ahead of privatization of prisons that will be covered in this paper.

Introduction

In the justice department of the United States, there have been continuing deliberations to determine whether it is suitable to privatize correctional facilities or not. There have been various proponents of privatization who have time and again claimed that transferring such a function to private contractors would result into various benefits such as cost reduction and service quality improvement (Morales, 2011). In contrast, most officials from the public sector have continuously refuted claims that transferring management of prisons to private contractors would lead to reduction of costs. At this point; however, it is significant to note that a private correctional center, detention center or jail is a place where individuals are subjected to physical confinement by a third party, which either a federal, state, or local government agency may have contracted.

Read also Privatization of Prisons – Advantages And Disadvantages

In regard to the current context, privatization of correctional facilities entails private contractors or operators taking over the existing public correctional facilities and addition of several other prisons managed by profit oriented companies. There is a long history though of federal as well as state government regarding contracting private firms to provide specific services such as inmate transportation, vocational training, food preparation and medical services. A new era for privatization of prisons began occurring in the 1980’s (American Civil Liberties Union, 2012). This was the moment when the war on drugs gained serious momentum leading to swollen prison populations. Rising costs, prison overcrowding and increased utilization of incarceration posed a lot of challenges to the federal, state and local governments. The growing criminal justice system provided a large window of opportunity for private contractors to graduate from simple service provision to contracting for entire operations and complete management of prisons.

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From the perspective of a public-sector correctional administrator, it is essential that jails are kept in public hands. The reason why this requires being the case entails the issue of governance which as pointed by CrimeCents (2012), private correctional facilities cannot handle governance issues in the required manner. Privatization of prisons is similar to transferring administration of justice to private hands-yet it is an essential function that should be handled by the government through the public sector. Even if there were allegations that private operators offer better treatment to people than public prisons, administration of justice requires remaining within the public sector just like the case is with the courts and the police. In fact issues of governance are well structured in public prisons more than the case is in private correctional facilities. Given that administration of justice requires remaining a public-sector issue, administration of discipline in the privatized prisons can easily raise ethical questions, especially whenever infractions happen. Besides, it raises public confidence whenever public sector employees make decisions regarding the time when a prisoner should proceed for a disciplinary hearing or be subjected to a solitary confinement.

Correctional facilities should, also, remain in public hands in order to avoid delivery of poor services by private firms that may be driven by financial motives. In most cases, it is through the criminal justice system that the guaranteed rights of human beings are deprived. Therefore, it is significant for correctional facilities to be effective so that there can be room for administering the right treatment to inmates. This can also enable provision of appropriate services like health care, anger management, addiction treatment, job training and education. Public prisons provide conducive environments where appropriate services can be administered so that chances of re-offending and subsequent reconviction, resentencing and re-incarceration can be reduced. This can lead to improved administrative practices and correctional policies that can eventually decrease the need for prisons. Having considered this, it becomes clear that organizations whose motivation is profit can be disastrous to the overall objective of correctional facilities. Besides, profit motivations by private facilities will influence ill-treatment of human beings. According to the claims of CrimeCents (2012), prisons are meant to serve two main objectives: custody and care. In regard to custody, protection to the physical bodies of inmates should take priority. Besides, proper care should be given to them so that their rights can be guaranteed.

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From the perspective of a private-sector correctional facility manager, there are several advantages of turning the correctional system over to the private correctional industry, but this paper will discuss only two of them. The first advantage is in terms of the savings. Research indicates that cost of keeping inmates in public prisons is more than the cost that the government can spend paying private prison (Morales, 2011). The implication in this case is that governments can obtain monetary benefits if they contract private firms for correctional facilities. In fact, private prisons are associated with lower labor costs regarding payment to employees, which makes them save substantial amounts for the government. This is because the government has to pay higher wages for its employees while private firms can pay low wages to its prison guards.

The second reason why there is need to privatize correctional facilities is so that improved overall performance can be achieved. In most cases, higher performance standards can be met privately than publicly. Private companies that agree to run prisons for the government usually expect to retain such contracts in the future. The implication is that performance is essentially considered and adequate incentives are available to maintain high-level services. Normally, such forms of incentives or motivation cannot be provided in the public sector. According to the findings of (Morales, 2011), the overall performance of private prisons is higher than the public prisons. Private prisons provide adequate safety and are more effective when it comes to creation of space for rehabilitation. It should also be clear that they offer improved living standards for clients. They, also, facilitate better acclimatization of inmates back to the society after serving their terms.

There are a number of challenges, which both the public and private prisons may encounter in the course of conducting their operations. In fact, the federal prison system encounters challenges in relating to costs, and security and safety issues. The costs of running the federal prison system continues rising and poses the continuous danger of consuming the largest share of the budget allocated to the criminal justice department (U.S. Department of Justice, 2014). This is a dangerous scenario especially in the current era of declining or flat budgets. The growing budget of the budget of the federal prison system may hinder or limit the capacity of the department in regard to managing other essential programs like defense of civil rights, enforcement of criminal laws, and protection of national security. Overcrowding is, also, a critical issue in both public and private prisons. This issue is believed to have been influenced by the Great Depression when most people started engaging in crimes of survival. Caring for inmates who are mentally ill has, also, been a widely recognized challenge in the prison system. This encompasses various mental health conditions like disorders that affect behavior, thinking or mood. Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and depression are the most common mental health conditions.

There are several legal issues that require consideration ahead of privatization of prisons. Since private correctional facilities aim at achieving efficiency in terms of filling beds in order to maximize profits, there is a high likelihood to utilize prison transfers across various jurisdictions. These transfers may be conducted without involving citizens, local officials, and government authorities. Therefore, there should be policies to provide guidance to private correctional firms regarding inter-jurisdictional transfers (Collins, 2013). This is significant for determining implications for inmates, monitors, government authorities, families and host communities. The Charter or Rights and Freedoms should be availed to private prisons to ensure that offenders’ rights are protected.

In conclusion, this paper discussed administration correctional facilities with regard to two perspectives: public-sector administrator perspective and private sector administrator perspective. In the justice department of the United States, there have been continuing deliberations to determine whether it is suitable to privatize correctional facilities or not. From the perspective of a public-sector correctional administrator, it is essential that jails are kept in public hands in order to maintain administration of justice in the safe hands of government. From the perspective of a private-sector correctional facility manager, there is need to privatize correctional facilities is so that improved overall performance can be achieved. Common challenges that may be faced by public and private prisons include gang activity, overcrowding, assaults, racism, mental health care, and overall health care.

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