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January 13, 2012

"Too Good to be True: Private Prisons in America"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new report from The Sentencing Project. Here is a brief account of the report's coverage via the text of an e-mail I received this morning:

The report details the history of private prisons in America, documents the increase in their use, and examines their purported benefits. Among the report's major findings:

  • From 1999 to 2010 the use of private prisons increased by 40 percent at the state level and by 784 percent in the federal prison system. 
  • In 2010 seven states housed more than a quarter of their prison population in private facilities. 
  • Claims of private prisons' cost effectiveness are overstated and largely illusory. 
  • The services provided by private prisons are generally inferior to those found in publicly operated facilities. 
  • Private prison companies spend millions of dollars each year attempting to influence policy at the state and federal level.

The full report, Too Good to be True: Private Prisons in America, includes a comprehensive chart on state and federal privatization levels, as well as detailed graphs and data on the lobbying and contribution activities of Corrections Corporation of America. 

January 13, 2012 at 01:02 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"Private prison companies spend millions of dollars each year attempting to influence policy at the state and federal level."

And where the prisons are publicly run (e.g., California), the prison guards' union spends vast sums to influence policy.

I have generally not been in favor of privatization in this area on the theory that people whose jobs involve the use of force on a regular basis (the military, the police, and the prison guards) should be directly responsible to the government. But the more I see the public employee unions' corrosive effect on government, the better the privatization option looks.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jan 13, 2012 1:24:21 PM

Kent, I get you on the guards' unions, but I just think that replacing that influence with Geo Group or whoever is not much of an improvement. Certainly, for me, not enough to give up the kind of direct accountability you correctly note is so important for those sanctioned to use force for public purposes.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 17, 2012 12:44:37 PM

Buying and selling elected office holders with unlimited anonymous corporate FREE-SPEECH (money) makes it profitable to sell out everyone.
I'm an American born citizen and protected refugee from United States.

Posted by: Judge Knot | Jan 18, 2012 1:19:06 PM

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