Privatization of Prisons – Advantages And Disadvantages

Privatization of prisons

The emergence of private corporations operating and owning prisons at the beginning of the 20th Century becomes a controversial issue which faces factors favor of it in equal measures with its critiques. As argued by Sellers (2007), the complication in the “prison industrial complex” depicts the impacts of the privatization of prisons amidst globalization and the awesome growth of the prisons in all of the modern history.

Advantages of privatization of prisons

Privatization of prisons makes contributions to and buoys the general “culture” towards law enforcement and criminal justice. This is done through leveling our common sense understanding on the causes of social problems and the solution responses of violence, containment and force. Through the expansion of the criminal justice system beyond the capability of the state agencies, civil servants, the privatization of prison has made this culture grow in ways that are both practice-related and ideological (Green, 2010).

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The advocates of private prisons view these privatization corporations as an asset to the criminal justice, in that, they relieve the public agencies of the burdens of operating prisons (Schmalleger&Smykla, 2015). Since the public courts and the law enforcement are their clients, the private orisons operators are held to be accountable for high standards within their facilities and operations.

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Private sector efficiency-the privatization has shown efficient running of the prisons than the public agencies due to the profit motive prompts the corporations to downsize unnecessary expenses but clasp to tighter operating budgets.

Disadvantages of privatization of prisons

There are claims that the private prisons do not really save money, but just like any other for-profit business entity, they strive to maximize their own profits. As a result of this there is a reduction in the provision of essential services in the prisons- from the food, medical care and clothing to staff costs and security, at the endangerment of the inmates, staff and the general public.

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A section of the critiques pay concern to the influence and power of the for-profit prisons. At the moment when much of the public discourse questions the war-on-drugs and the war-on-crimebeing fought as wars, the critics are claiming that profit incentive skews public discourse to be apart from the reasoned argument of the viable solutions to social problems (Logan, 2002, p. 173).

In addition the demographic analysis and the history of the today’s prisons make-up, for example the US prisons produce roughly 15% White, 35% Latino and 50% African-American, shows that the privatization of prisons has threatened to re-institute a link between race and commerce which has never been experienced since the 1800’s.

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Within the public sector, money paid as tax make more of itself, that is, each public dollar paid into a social service will spend itself about four or eight times more elsewhere just within the public sector. Once the public money is taken into the hands of the private sector, that money stays there and is gone forever (Logan, 2002). This becomes particularly true when we consider that the privatization corporations mostly are given handsome tax incentives and breaks, basically called “corporate welfare,” meaning we are less likely to see that money again.


According to Sellers (2007), the necessity of prisons privatization became inevitable as the late 1960’s marked the expansion of the powers of law enforcement agencies around the globe, generating unprecedented reliance on the incarceration in treatment of the political, economic, social and mental health challenges.

The call on the new acts crimes and the increase in the severity of sentencing for other acts, there has a “prison boom.” Soon, the prison overcrowding exceeded prison construction budgets. The failure of government agencies to fully meet the overcrowding effect, private investor recognize the business opportunity thereby resulting to formation institution like the Correction Corporation of America (CCA)-with motive to venture capital in building new prisons, then leasing to state in a profit-making basis (Schmalleger&Smykla, 2015).

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The resultant outcome of the privatization of prisons as a result of the Correctional Corporations having amassed greater political influence through lobbying of power and campaign contributions, government ties, while making an attempt of converting the discourse of justice into the language of marketplace. Moreover, the accusations on the government agencies exploiting monopoly powers on corrections, espouse the necessity to downscale and cut through the red tape.

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Privatization of prisons has proved to a convincing level that the private sector can run the prisons cheaply and efficiently, conducting a more appealing job meanwhile saving the taxpayers money.

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