Last week, I introduced the overall idea of privatization of prisons. However, after posting, I realized I wasn’t even sure what that meant, exactly. After minimal searching, I found a very helpful article on how privatization of prisons started and what has come of it.
In the 1960s and 70s, the U.S. prison system began to grow in power and size. More things were being labeled as crimes that entail prison time. Prisons became places to dump all kinds of people: mentally ill, physically ill, economically challenged, etc. Eventually, the prison systems ran out of money and the people would not vote to give it any more money. Then, in 1984, a group of investors in Tennessee built a prison with the idea to lease out the rooms in the prison for a profit. This would be called the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Since then, the number of private prison facilities has grown to ten percent of all U.S. prisons.
The private institutions claim they run the system more efficiently than public institutions and can save public, taxpayer money. However, this comes at the cost of the amenities and conditions that are maintained in the prisons. And, as the intent of these companies is to make a profit, they are not concerned with the living conditions as much as public institutions are.
These institutions continue to grow because they appeal to the members of government. More private institutions means they have less accountability for fewer prisoners. This continued growth leads to more and more prisoners in the U.S. Since 1970, the number of prisoners has risen from 280,000 to 2,000,000 in 2000.
Don’t get me wrong, prison is a necessary aspect of our country. People who are a threat to the rest of society need to be incarcerated for the well-being of everyone else. However, with private prisons just trying to get as many prisoners as possible to maximize profit, it makes me wonder whether all the inmates need or deserve to be there.
Leave comments below with opinions on whether private prisons help or hurt society or any comment you have on them in general.