Privatization of Prisons Has Become an Important Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Privatization of prisons has become an important consideration for the governments of all the developed countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The one major reason for this consideration is that the prisons are becoming overcrowded and therefore their management by the state is becoming difficult. Moreover, the involvement of the private sector also has the potential to decrease the economic burden that the management and running of the prisons has on the budget of the government. However, it should be noted that privatization of prisons should be discussed from the perspective of all the stakeholders involved in the matter and the rewards and risks should be discussed from the perspective of all these stakeholders. In this paper we shall discuss how the prisons can be managed in a better way and how all the stakeholders involved would get affected when the prisons are going to be privatized.

Stakeholders for Privatization of Prisons

There are two kinds of prisons in many parts of the developed world today where partial privatization of the prisons has taken place. The ones that are run by the state solely are called the state prisons and the ones that are being run in a partnership with the private sector are called the local prisons.

Privatization of prisons means the involvement of the private sector in the management of the prisons. This means that the government and the state would hire contractors who would take care of the prisons and would be responsible for the policy making of the prisons and would be taking all the decisions regarding the prisoners. Hiring of the contractors means that the government would make contracts with the corporations and that implies that the owners of these corporations would run the prisons like they run their businesses and this would give rise to a lobby milieu. This is one of the risks that are involved with the privatization of the prisons. On the other hand, the private sector is known to provide better facilities and has the potential to take more financial risks than can the public sector. At this point we are going to consider the example of the extensive prison industry in Louisiana. Clay McConnell is a famous name in this industry because 40,000 of the inmates of the prison industry live in the prison houses that are owned and run by him. It wouldn't be wrong to say that he does have great experience in this field since he has been running nursing home for a very long time but he looks at running prisons like running a business where he would consider cutting the costs in food and employment.

The second main stakeholder for the privatization of prisons is the prisoners themselves and the human rights activists who work for their welfare. It is true that there is not much of a difference in the provision of the services and the facilities that are provided to the prisoners by the state and by the private sector, but since the corporations look at it with a business perspective it can also be said that they tend to spend less on the prisoners than would the state. In any state prison the amount of money that is spent on a single prisoner per in Louisiana is $55 and in a local prison that are being run with private sector involvement like that of the McConnell's prisons the average money spent on a single prisoner per day is only about $25. Moreover, in the state prisons, the prisoners are also made to do some productive work like plumbing and welding and the inmates of the local prisons have nothing better to do than getting bored out of their skull. This is an example where it is important to analyze whether or not economic burden is the only factor that need be considered by the government when making a partnership with the private sector (Chang, 2012). Therefore, as from the prisoner's point-of-view, privatization of prisons might not be a very good idea. Even though they do not have a free choice but the activists who work for them might protest against the privatization of prisons. The economic burden is greatly reduced but the counter argument could be the long time distribution of the long sentenced prisoners' cost among all the taxpayers of the country.

The third stakeholder is the society or the other citizens of the country. Prisoners are the people who have violated the crime or at least are alleged of doing so. Therefore, the society does not really have a soft corner for them. Even if the state is not doing much for the betterment of the prisons or the management of the prisons is not being done properly then there is very less chances that the society would blame the government or the government would have to suffer politically. As mentioned above, even the economic burden does not seem much for the society because it shared equally among all the citizens and over a long period of time. On the other hand, there is also a part of the society who would favor the privatization of the prisons because the financial cost that the government would be saving up by doing so could be used on other developmental projects going on or on the health and education of the citizens of the country.

We can consider the example of New York here that has an ever increasing backlog of the public infrastructure needs that have not been met and there are only limited public funds that could pay for them. In such circumstances, the government thought it would be beneficial to take the assistance of the private sector that would be willing to take financial risks that the government is not able to or is not willing to take. The reason why P3 is preferred over the involvement of the public sector only is that in many circumstances, the public sector can show more flexibility than the government does or it can. Moreover, the private sector has also had the reputation of doing the tasks more swiftly and with greater efficiency. There are some risks also involved with this partnership and those are the interests of the people.Particularly, when talking about the privatization of the prisons this is an important point that needs to be considered because prisoners are the people who have been deviated from the society and they do not have a say in the policy making regarding them whatsoever (DiNapoli, 2011).The process of the privatization of prisons in American started in the nineteenth century when the private companies started hiring the illegal immigrants. Now this privatization has become prevalent throughout all the sectors in the prison system. Contracting of the private companies has been ongoing for the food service, medical care, janitorial services and transportation of the prisoners and also their security. According to the current data regarding the prisons in the United States, 8% of all the prisoners in America and almost 13% of the prisoners in the United Kingdom are being taken care by the privately run companies and facilities. On the other hand, the fraction of prisoners that are being run by the state is 44%. The growing trend of the privatization of prisons can be because of four factors. The first one is the increase in the population of prisons because of the amendments made in the sentencing policy. This policy is that the people who violate the law would be imposed with minimum sentences but would require long periods of time before they become eligible for parole. When the prisons became overcrowded because of the increase in population of the prisons and also the increase in the crime rates all over the world, courts in many parts of the world ordered issues that the prisons should be remediated in the interest of the safety and health of the prisoners. Since the government did not have enough funds to meet the demands or to maintain these prisons, it thought that it would be beneficial to involve the private sector. Needless to say when the population of the prisons increased and when there was overcrowding of the existing prisons, there was a demand for the construction of new prisons. However, the states and the governments did not have enough resources that could be allocated for the construction of these new prisons to match the increase in demand. It should also be noted here that from the years 2005-2009, there had been a 400% increase in the number and detention of the illegal immigrants in the United States that led to extensive overcrowding of the present prisons (Kish and Lipton, 2013).

Concerns of Stakeholders

The main concern of the stakeholders and especially that of the government and the corporations involved in the management of the prisons is that of the infrastructure, budget, employment, labor and health of the prisoners. The determination of the fact that whether or the privatization of prisons…

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