Prison privatization has prospered because of claims that for-profit facilities are more cost efficient at providing services than publicly-run institutions. The evidence does not support this assertion. The American prison system is massive and most of it has to do with the way the American legal system works and how it has changed over the last 40 years. In the 1970’s, lawmakers were dealing with a nationwide rash of drug-use and crime. By declaring a nation-wide war on drugs in 1971, President Richard Nixon set a precedent for hardline policies towards drug-related crime. The runaway growth of US corrections did not come overnight, and did not come from the government alone.
New York governor Nelson Rockefeller followed suit declaring “For drug pushing, life sentence, no parole, no probation.” His policies once put into action promised 15 years to life in prison for drug users and dealers. His policies catalyzed the growth of a colossal corrections system that currently houses an estimated 2.2 million inmates.
The business of prisons is deeply intertwined with a number of issues ranging from accounting shady accounting practices, to recidivism and other hidden social costs. However it is difficult to discern whether private prisons are a better use of taxpayer dollars especially if they serve government interests ahead of civil liberties and transparency.
Is mandatory minimums part of the problem of not only crowding but also funding issues?
Is prevention before incarceration an option?
Galvin, G., Underfunded, (2017). Overcrowded State Prisons Struggle With Reform. Retrieved from: http://usnews.com
Gotsch, K., & Basti, V., (2018). Capitalizing on Mass Incarceration: U.S. Growth in Private Prisons. Retrieved from: https://www.sentencingproject.org/