Correctional facilities around the world emerged as entities tasked with the confinement of various types of offenders. Safety for the general public is usually of the utmost importance to a nation with prisons serving as an ideal area to put away persons posing a threat to others. These facilities are meant to offer a reeducation routine with the intention to transform their character while ensuring that they atone for their offenses. In essence, these individuals become “guests of the state”; the establishment was in charge of the incarceration and the management of prisons. However, there are occasions when a government decides to agree with for-profit entities in the housing of these individuals while bolstering its mandate. Private prisons are third parties that serve as an integral entity of the criminal justice system that aids the government in performing its duty. The earliest scenario of individuals opting for private, solitary confinement was in the United States where the San Quentin in 1852 essentially paving the way for this relatively new practice (Hallett 12). After the turn of the 20th century, countries such as the United Kingdom, France, and Australia readily embraced this system while aping the American model. The privatization of prisons is one example of the can-do mentality that the American culture fosters. Private entities take on an arduous task that sees them perform a role that was hitherto conducted by the Federal Government, therefore, proving their managerial abilities (“This Is the Real Reason Private Prisons Should Be Outlawed”). The main argument provided by proponents of this model is that it aids the government in saving funds that can otherwise be used for other vital purposes. On the other hand, I believe that privatization of prisons is a step in the wrong direction for any society due to various controversial questions that these entities raise. In this essay, I will provide sufficient arguments to support my position above that the correctional service should not be privatized.
The right to direct punitive measures solely lies in the hands of the state. The government adheres to all tenets provided for in the constitution to ensure that there is harmony in the society while creating an ideal environment for development. It also has the power to use the Judiciary as an arm responsible for ensuring that the rule of law supersedes all other cultural conventions. As stewards of the law, the criminal justice system is expected to mete out its judgment as per the constitutional provisions and sentencing those found guilty of any violation. The general idea is to ensure that individuals realize that there will always be consequences for their actions and should still expect punishment from the state when they commit these offenses. Incarceration in a federal prison is a symbolic act that displays the authority that a state has over its citizens and can use the Judiciary to deprive these individuals of some rights and freedoms. Handing inmates over to a private entity presents a relatively new scenario where these free facilities seem more in control than the government. As a result, it is quite likely that the prisoners will view the staff in a private prison in higher regard in comparison with the state. These individuals are essentially deprived of all the freedoms that they previously enjoyed when they lived free lives. The prison warders are in total control of all aspects of these individual’s lives, deciding when should eat, sleep, exercise and enjoy their leisure time. All the while, the federal government plays a peripheral role in only ensuring that the prisoner’s expenses are catered for during their stay there. Using private prisons, therefore, goes against the premise that the state has in punishing the offenders while also diminishing its influence on an individual’s reverence.
The presence of private prisons also poses fundamental ethical questions in the use of this business model. In reality, owners and stakeholders in these facilities are out to profit from an increase in the rate of incarceration. Their primary motivation is the financial incentives that this model creates, leaving out the inmates who are the reason why they have the job in the first place. In the United States, agencies such as the GEO Group and the now infamous Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) are some of the leading players in this industry and have been known to advance laboriously on these programs (Price and Morris 76). The amount of investment made particularly in hiring lobbyists to clamor for the mass incarceration of people, and a reduction in leniency merely is astonishing. These groups aim to push for the implementation of strict criminal justice policies that would see more people confined in these facilities. For such corporations, the econometrics of incarceration is simple; harsher criminal justice doctrines lead to an increase in the number of inmates, which ultimately increases their per capita income. It’s entirely unethical that such corporations make their profit from the suffering of others who might have taken a wrong turn in life. It is as though, they derive their joy from these individual committing offenses as they benefit from their folly. They have no empathy whatsoever for the families affected by these offenders and are therefore not committed to making sure that individuals don’t commit offenses. On the flipside there are moments during which the criminal justice system fails the public, leading to the wrongful conviction of such individuals. The primary concern for these institutions is the money they would possibly rake in without having any empathy for the families of all those innocent individuals that find themselves behind bars.
The privatization of prisons will also hurt integrity and principles across the board. In every situation, either good or bad there usually exists individuals who seek to make the most out of it and make gains. It’s quite likely that these corporations only serve their self-interest since we have already established that a financial incentive is the primary motivational factor in their establishment of private institutions. Cutting cost is usually one of the most comfortable means of making a decent profit in any enterprise. In the case of private prisons, the general practice involves cutting down on the number of officers and staff needed to run these institutions efficiently. Moreover, it is typical for the shareholders in these corporations to insist on a reduction in the number of training practices required to equip the officers with sufficient knowledge of how to engage inmates. One should not confuse these methods with frugality as it is apparent these corporations seek to seal any loopholes that might drain their profits. The result is often catastrophic. These organizations are hell-bent on establishing a thriving business that they completely forget that they may be placing their staff in mortal danger. A large population of inmates placed under an administration that is both small in size and poorly trained to defuse any potentially dangerous situation is a recipe for disaster. Riots are common in prisons, and with such an inferior officer to inmate ratio, it is quite likely that the odds would not be in their favor. Moreover, privatization of correctional services would also affect the integrity of the criminal justice system. Interested parties would make it their life’s work to use underhand methods to achieve their objectives. Legislators pushing for stiffer penalties may receive bribes to ensure that their bills become law and ultimately benefitting the corporations from these incarcerations. Similarly, corruption is likely to thrive given the fact that it is judges who have the final say in matters law. A more recent scandal involved the Mid-Atlantic Youth Service Corp which offers juvenile correctional facilities for delinquents (Price 87). The discovery made was that the firm paid judges to sentence as many children as possible to serve their stints in these facilities.
Another reason why private prisons should be phased out has to with the fact that they offer few opportunities that might transform the inmates. A prison facility is vital as it is expected to house offenders, help them come to terms with their offense and understand why they are in prison. It’s usually a long but worthwhile road that seeks to correct the demeanor of these individuals and get them on the right track. The process involves spending time and money counselors that often meet these individuals and assist in ensuring that they become self-aware and able to acknowledge their role in the mistakes they committed. By so doing, they reflect upon their lives and the path they should have taken, admitting that there can always be a second chance in life after prison. In spite of recognizing this need, private jails rarely offer these services and for obvious reasons. Specialists are an additional cost to these for-profit institutions that are usually trying their level best to cut down on expenses (Price and Morris 56). Additionally, a large number of persons housed in these systems are individuals with lower educational levels. They might have dropped out of school at various stages of life which explains why they are more prone to incarceration in comparison with their counterparts with higher levels of education. Researchers have proven time and again that providing inmates with an education program during their stint at the facility is beneficial as it significantly reduces recidivism rates. Its either private prisons are blind to this factor blatantly ignoring it even with full knowledge of its consequences. The latter is quite likely quite likely and mostly has to do with the economics underpinning mass incarceration. It’s easier for an educated individual to obtain gainful employment, therefore avoiding the mistakes that got them in prison. Private prisons therefore intentionally deprive their inmates of educational programs to ensure that occupancy is always full in their institutions together with the assurance that multiple offenders will still be returning.
For-profit facilities have adverse effects on marginalized communities and are likely to alter family structures in the long run. The United States is known globally for having the highest number of its population in prisons. Even more surprising is the fact that a majority of those held in these facilities are people of color. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Latinos often fill federal centers all across the country. The primary reason why this is the case has to do with the fact that these individuals come from communities with poor conflict resolution mechanisms coupled with generational poverty (Price 67). Marginalization and unemployment lead to desperation with most of these individuals embracing illegal activities just to get by and support their families. Those apprehended by law enforcement officers often end up in private prisons due to the health policies found here. Older individuals are a perceived as a burden to healthcare and usually housed in federal facilities, which leaves persons of color, who are typically younger and healthier, in private prisons. Since people of color are more likely to be incarcerated in comparison with their white counterparts, private prisons and up teeming with them. With a high recidivism rate and the implementation of strict criminal justice policies, people of color often get trapped in the system leaving behind a generation of broken homes.
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