Prisons are where criminals serve their sentences after conviction. It is the physical location where inmates are housed during the duration of their prison sentence. At one time all prisons were public, but the prison system has begun to transition to a new age. The existence of private prisons have changed the prison system as a whole. Public and private prisons are not one in the same. The topic of private prisons is one that can cause controversy and spark debate among opposing sides. Why not take a closer look at what private prisons actually are? You can also gain a new perspective by learning about both the pros and cons associated with private prisons.
Just like anything else, there are both pros and cons associated with the private prison system. Not everything about private prisons can be seen as a benefit, but there are some advantages that can be gained. By taking a closer look at both the pros and cons you can begin to see for yourself if private prisons are worth the added cost.
What Are the Pros of Private Prisons
The biggest benefit of private prisons is the savings that the government can get access to. The total cost that the government is paying private prison companies is less than the cost of housing inmates on their own. This means that entering agreements with private companies for prisons can be monetarily beneficial to governments. One of the main reasons that private prisons can save money for governments is due to the lower cost of labor that they can pay to employees. Private prison companies can employ prison guards at a lower wage, but governments pay higher wages to all government employees. As long as prisons are privately owned, they can save money on the cost of labor.
It should be noted that all government public service employees not only earn a higher wage, but also earn more in benefits and total salary. The total wages are what combine to be more than half the total cost of operating a prison. By having prisons owned privately the total cost drops considerably with the salary savings. Overtime and healthcare compensation paid to employees by private prisons is much less than what would be required if the prison was owned publicly.
2. Performance is Better
Another benefit of private prisons is better overall performance. The performance standards that can be met privately are higher than those that can be met publicly. Private firms that agree on contracts with the government to run prisons are looking to retain these contracts in the future. This means that the performance of the prison is important and there is a much greater incentive to ensure that this service is maintained at a high level. This type of motivation or incentive is not present at the public sector.
The overall performance of public prisons is not up to par with the private sector. Not only are private prisons often safer, but they are also more effective in creating an environment for rehabilitation. The living standards for inmates are often improved and the ability too acclimate prisoners back into society after their term is much more effective. A better performance is simply what can be seen by private prisons alone. These same standards are not met by public prisons due to the lack of incentive. Private prisons are looking to keep their contracts with government agencies.
What Are the Cons of Private Prisons
1. Dependency on Private Firms
Dependency is a very relevant issue when you are discussing the topic of privately owned and operated prisons. There is a danger that the government could eventually become much too dependent on private firms for the overall operation of the prison system as a whole. Introducing the prison system to the private sector might be incredibly risky and could be a transition that could backfire. There are currently savings in turning to private firms for private prisons, but this could eventually lead to increased costs for the operation of private prisons. Just because the cost of these private prisons is currently lower does not mean that this will continue to be the trend. As the need increases, so will the cost of operation for private prisons. Private prisons have the ability to start low balling their bid and governments could become dependent when the cost drastically starts to increase. Dependency is something that should cause concern, when it comes to private prisons.
2. The Issue of Transparency
Public prisons are designed to be transparent in nature. This means that the government is very straightforward with everything that goes on in public prisons from operation to all other aspects. However, transparency in private prisons is something that could eventually become an issue. Since they are privately owned private firms are not held to the Samuels of transparency that government agencies are. This is an important issue because all employees within a prison should be held to high ethical standards. The ethical treatment of prisoners is something that could become an issue in private prisons if transparency is not maintained. Private prisons could look to increase profits by cutting corners and treating prisoners poorly to make extra money.
What Are Private Prisons?
Private prisons are also often referred to as for-profit prisons. You might have never thought of prisons as money making entities, but private prisons actually bring in profits. In basic terms, a private prison is the physical location where inmates are confined by a third party that is contracted by the government. This means that governments and third party private prison companies enter agreements together. The government in turn pays a predetermined per diem at a monthly rate for every prisoner that resides in a private prison. The privatization of prisons is an issue that is beginning to spark controversy due to the profiting that private companies receive for every prisoner incarcerated.
Why Are Private Prisons Necessary?
The existence of private prisons began due to demand. Federal, state and local governments have begun to struggle with balancing budgets and reducing costs of prisons. The solution to this problem was to start moving away from public prisons and transitioning to the private sector. Even though private prisons are the solution to some of the problems concerning housing criminals, there are still some issues involving private prisons. Many legislators are beginning to question if private prisons are actually the solution and if they are worth the cost.
Private prisons are currently a solution to many of the problems publicly owned prisons have been facing. However, there are issues associated with private prisons that should not be overlooked. The long-term ramifications of having prisons privately owned is the main concern. They are currently the solution, but chances are that this will not always be the case. Bigger issues will slowly start to arise and cause problems.