Benefits and Drawbacks of Private Prisons - Research Paper

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1742 Words
Date:  2022-12-20


In the past few years, there has been a trend across the world regarding the privatization of prisons. Independent firms have contracted, built, and staffed correctional facilities across the board rather than having the government building and managing these facilities. Despite this trend, concerns have been raised regarding the effectiveness of private correctional facilities. Many critics have argued that private prisons encourage injustice and corruption and are unsafe, insecure, and costly (Volokh 1). On the other hand, supporters of private correctional systems have claimed that the facilities help the government to save taxpayers money, regulate inmates' population, and create employment opportunities for millions of people. These conflicting views call for the investigation of the effects of private correctional facilities in terms of its benefits and limitations. This paper describes the benefits and drawbacks of private correctional systems.

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Overview of Private Correctional Systems

A private correctional system or private facility is where inmates are incarcerated or confined by third parties contracted by government agencies (Burkhardt 1). Usually, private correctional companies sign a contractual agreement with governments that they will accommodate prisoners during their sentencing period and that the government will pay them monthly or annual rates for each inmate. The private correctional systems are designed in numerous ways. First, the government may construct the facility then contacts third parties to manage and operate it. Secondly, private firms may maintain and operate the correctional facility from the beginning to the end. This entails designing, funding, and building the prisons and then managing them. Lastly, the government may take over the correctional facility currently under the management of the public sector and hand it over to a private company that consequently monitors its operations. In all the scenarios described above, third-party companies are later paid monthly or daily rate for the exact number of prisoners they accommodate or for the available space or beds including those not used (Burkhardt 1).

Benefits of Private Correctional Facilities

Private correctional facilities are cheaper than public sector prisons. Reports indicate that private entities are not subjected to governmental accountability regulations and therefore the government does not need to be transparent about the privatization process or seek approval from the public (Lindsey, Daniel & Joshua 308). Thus, private correctional systems can save money and time by building operational prisons in a shorter period than public prisons. Individual correctional systems are highly incentivized to lower their operational costs as compared to federal jails as they are driven by profit and not public concerns (Lindsey, Daniel & Joshua 308). The competitive nature of private correctional systems also fosters cost efficiency through the bidding process. These correctional systems can lower their expenses by regulating the benefits they offer to their personnel such as dental and medical coverage, overtime pay, and paid holidays (Lundahl et al. 383).

The ability of private correctional facilities to manage their operations enable the government to channel some of its expenses to other critical projects thus ensuring that the public funds are effectively used for vital and critical sectors (Lindsey, Daniel, & Joshua 308). Competitive privatization increases productivity and minimizes waste of public resources. Further, accommodation expenses in private correctional systems are half that of federal prisons (Lundahl et al. 383). Also, private correctional systems can save about 20% of the construction expenses and about 15% in management expenses. However, the critics have argued that lowering costs in private correctional systems worsen the living conditions in such facilities (Burkhardt 1).

Private prisons help the government to control the population of inmates at the right level. The critical challenge in the current correctional system in most parts of the world is the unprecedented growth in inmates. Reports indicate that this is a significant issue because overcrowded prisons require large amounts of water, food, electricity, and increased numbers of jail wardens, as well as, other law enforcement personnel, making them very expensive to operate and maintain (Lundahl et al. 383). Overpopulated prisons also create unsafe and unhealthy living environments for the prisoners that expose them to diseases, injuries, and violate their human rights. However, the good thing is that the population of inmates can be brought to a considerable level when governments decide to work together with private prison. Private correctional facilities can accommodate many prisoners and help ensure that the public prisons do not get overpopulated and that the inmates have a comfortable and decent place to stay while serving their sentencing.

Another benefit of private correctional systems is that they are more innovative and flexible than public ones. Past scholars argued that private correctional facilities came up with new ideas of how to manage and run prisons (Volokh 1). They suggested that private systems have the imagination to operate prisons and view things from a completely different perspective and take into account new management approaches and establish new measures. Reportedly, this viewpoint was acknowledged in the year 1998 following the inspection of Buckley hall where the field inspector recognized improvements of prison flexibility where the contractor could present innovative concepts that there devoid of bureaucratic restrictions, and if possible could be eliminated in other institutions. Numerous proponents have contended that contracting cold is the primary reason for staff transformation and innovation within the longstanding obstruction.

The last benefit of private correctional systems is that they create additional employment opportunities for people. Undoubtedly, private correctional systems cannot operate on their own but require many employees who must prepare meals for the prisoners, administer medical care, and ensure that prisons do not escape. As a result of this, they create employment opportunities for millions of people and assist them and their families in staying a decent life. Volokh also noted that private correctional facilities play a critical role in growing the local economy because they take their earnings back to their country and invest there (1).

Drawbacks of Private Correctional Facilities

The major drawback of private correctional systems is that they are driven by profits thus conflicts of interest. The primary role of prisons is not only to correct and isolate lawbreakers from society but also rehabilitate and deter them from offending in the future (). While this is an essential factor that private correctional facilities are cost saving, it also implies that such facilities are not as useful as public incarceration facilities. This is because of gaining revenues through prison management that would mean that critical factors including medical care and rehabilitation programs are minimized at the expense of the inmates' welfare. Consequently, inmates are likely to experience deplorable living conditions and effective rehabilitation programs may lack.

A recent report by Perrone and Travis has raised numerous concerns regarding various services that private correctional facilities offer (301). Issues such as incompetent staff and high rates of staff turnover were some of the significant concerns that were pointed out. A similar report on these arguments indicated that public correctional facilities were quite safer than private ones because of the environment (Volokh 1). The explanation for this argument is that staff in private correctional facilities have little experience and incompetent as opposed to those in public prisons. The report further revealed that terms and conditions of the contracts under which private correctional facilities are operated and managed had not been developed appropriately. This raised the issue of the commercial confidentiality that surrounded the terms through which private correctional facilities were under.

Another drawback of private correctional facilities is poor scoring. Lundahl et al. noted that private correctional systems receive bad scores in terms of security and management because of their failures to handle intentional criminal activities such as drug containment and assault (383). A study conducted by Lundahl et al. to examine the welfare of inmates in various private correctional systems revealed the intensity in which staffs and inmates within these facilities had to adapt to (383). The significant findings from this study were that there was unprecedented growth in a number of the assault cases in private correctional facilities than in the public prisons. The study results also indicated that assault on inmates by the prison officers had increased by about 49% while attacks by inmates had grown by more than 60% (Lundahl et al. 383). The stated increase is almost twice the figure recorded in public correctional facilities; therefore, offers clear evidence to indicate that private correctional facilities are less efficient in terms of their performance.

The issue of low bidding is another major limitation of private correctional facilities. Low bidding refers to an approach that contractors use on the government to win tenders to offer correctional services. The underlying principle of this approach is that by providing low bidding to the government, the contractors can win the bid and increase the figures once they have been declared the winners. Further to that, the competitors are likely to become bankrupt, a situation that can leave the government in a non-correctional position (Lindsey, Daniel and Cochran 308). Principally, in case this approach is brought in within the prisons that ensure that right justice is administered, then countries across the world will witness the delivery of inadequate facilities and resources, as well as, technical challenges. In return, the entire process of prison will lose its original meaning, motive, and purpose.

Another major drawback of private correctional systems is that they can foster injustice and corruption. Most of the owners of private correctional facilities misuse their authorities to put forward their agenda without considering the prisoners they accommodate within their facilities. For instance, the juvenile scandal that happened in 2008 also known as "the kids for cash scandal". In this case, a manager of one of the private children prison corrupted the judge to offer a harsh ruling infants who committed minor crimes (Perrone, and Pratt 302). Principally, these juveniles were detained in the correctional facilities for an extended period to increase the number of inmates and ensure that private correctional facilities receive additional funds from the government.


In conclusion, the topic discussed in this paper correlates with the information we have already learned in class that private correctional facilities have numerous benefits, especially when they are used appropriately. Before writing the paper, I was aware of the fact that privatization is a current trend across the correctional industry and that most federal and state governments are moving towards private correctional systems to save costs and create more jobs for their citizens. Nonetheless, the topic has enabled me to understand that private correctional facilities can be misused by individuals in power and can cause numerous risks to prison personnel, inmates, and the community at large. Therefore, there is a need for state and federal governments together with...

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Benefits and Drawbacks of Private Prisons - Research Paper. (2022, Dec 20). Retrieved from

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