While the privatization of correctional facilities is not a relatively new concept, recent shifts in terms of the objective and results of these prisons in the eyes of the corporations that control them have. According to the Huffington post, the amount of incarcerations have tripled since 1980 and about 13 million people are incarcerated each year meaning that 1 in every 100 Americans is serving time behind bars.
Naturally, overcrowding of government-run prisons occur and therefore; alternative measures were sought out. After realizing the potential profit from accommodating the massive incarcerated population, private prisons sprung up and offered their services to state governments. In exchange for a commission and payment from the state, corporate run prisons housed those who were brought into custody by the law.
There are however several issues regarding for-profit correctional facilities that set them a part from their state-run and mandated counterparts. Perhaps the biggest issue would be the purpose of a corporate owned prison. Like any other corporations, private correctional facilities exist in order to make a profit. With that in mind, comes the notion of the “biggest bang for the smallest buck” meaning that if the corporation feels that they can increase profit by for example, decreasing the amount of food received by the prisoners with “acceptable” margins, then they will most likely do so. The notion stated above would be the root cause for many human right’s allegations made against corporate prisons due to the higher priority going towards profit rather than the health and well-being of the inmates.
Another issue is the lack of government mandate which in turn can and has brought about negative impacts towards the environment of the prison. State owned and operated prisons staff their facilities with state-qualified workers and the guards at such correctional facilities are fully sworn and qualified law enforcement officers. At corporate correctional facilities however, for the most part, there is no set guideline or formal process towards hiring prison staff and consequences include the hiring of mentally abusive individuals thus jeopardizing the safety of the inmates. Additionally, there are no government mandates and therefore, health care of the inmates may go unannounced. Thus the safety of the inmates are a focal concern when discussing private-run prisons.
The question remains, should there be more government regulation or should such facilities exist at all? What should be the primary concern of private prisons taking into account that one is actually charged with the responsibility of a another human being?