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What Is The Pros And Cons Of A Private Prison?

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1- Cost Saving:
Proponents of privatization of prisons argue that the private companies can operate prisons at lesser costs than the government, without reducing the quality of the service provided. However, a report that was published in 2001 the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the US National Council on Crime and Delinquency concluded that concludes that 'there are no data to support the contention that privately operated facilities offer cost savings over publicly managed facilities' . Another study that was conducted in Tennessee found that the private prison cost per prisoner per day was $35.39. The two public prisons compared with it cost $34.90 and $35.45. A later study that was conducted in Canada concluded that; 'We could not conclude from these studies that privatization correctional facilities will not save money. However, these studies not offer substantial evidence that savings have occurred ', and that's why Canada shifted its only private prison to public in 2006 . This also happened in New Zealand.
Proponents also argue that they do not have to deal with state bureaucracy, numerous laws and red tape which make the management of their facilities less expensive. However, opponents to the contrary argue that taxpayers pay for both private and public prisons, and the fact that private prisons make profit do not make the operation less expensive on the taxpayers.

2- Efficiency:
Even if private prisons are in fact cheaper than public, this does not mean that it is more efficient as making profits from managing a prison will normally entails cutting back on rehabilitation programs, food and medical care, laboring the inmates, in addition to hiring inexperienced staff so as to cut on salaries. A survey conducted by analyst James Austin found that 49% more inmates on staff assault and 65% more inmates on inmate assaults occurred in private minimum and medium security facilities than in comparable publicly run facilities . This shocking figure proves that private prisons are inefficient.

Further, a recent report that was released in England revealed that privately-managed prisons scored badly on security and maintaining order and control failed to meet targets on serious assaults, drugs and purposeful activity . Furthermore, the overall payment and working conditions in private prisons are far more inferior to public prison staff. This explains the higher staff turnover.

3- Transparency
Furthermore, public prisons are more open to public inspection, unlike private prisons which are less transparent, difficult to regulate, monitor and violations of the contractual obligations are difficult to detect and to reconcile. In other words, public prisons are open to public scrutiny unlike private prisons which are not open to public scrutiny and the operation contracts are confidential and which leads to a serious lake of accountability.

4- The traditional argument

Finally, some governmental functions must be conducted only by the government and not by private contractors since it represents a responsibility of the state towards its citizens like in the case of national defence. Same goes to managing prisons which is considered a local defense. It too should be exclusively managed by the government. Moreover, the severity of the imprisonment as a deprivation of the persons freedom necessitate that the penalty must be administered directly by the state as a representative of the society and not by private companies (which represents only business).

George Anis

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