Recently, the American criminal justice system has been criticized for many aspects of its operation. Consequently, government at every level has attempted to alter the system in order to improve it. This, unfortunately, has resulted in a chain of events that is making the system worse, particularly with regard to prison facilities. One solution that has been attempted is the privatization of prisons. In fact, “for-profit incarceration has grown from a sole 350-bed lockup in 1983 to 90,000 inmates in more than 100 hundred prisons in 1997”. This paper argues that this method of operation with regard to the housing of criminals is inappropriate and ineffective.
Prison privatization began when American citizens expressed concerns over high crime rates in the eighties. State and federal legislative bodies reacted by enacting new laws outlining minimum punishments that included incarceration. By increasing the likelihood of punishment, these measures also increased the number of inmates and their length of stay in the prison system. As the incarcerated population increased, the prisons swelled to overwhelming numbers. Prisoner rights were affected, and overcrowding resulted. Consequently, early release programs were designed, allowing many undesirable convicts to re-enter society and to commit crimes once again. These early release programs were implemented largely to avoid acting on the necessity of building new prisons. Unfortunately, the money needed for maintaining and building prisons was not available.
Thus, society had to search for new solutions. One solution that was regarded as feasible was the privatization of prisons. This refers to private companies or organizations offering facilities and related services required to house prisoners at a cost less than the amount needed for large-scale construction and administration of new governmentally-managed prisons. Consequently, numerous inmates across the country are now housed in “for-profit prisons”.