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How Has the Proliferation of Privately Funded Prisons Changed the Criminal Justice System in America - Research Paper Example

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How has the proliferation of privately funded prisons changed the criminal justice system in America? The rise in privately funded prisons in America, owes its growth and penetration within America’s criminal justice system, to the range of transformations that occurred during the mid 1990s…
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How Has the Proliferation of Privately Funded Prisons Changed the Criminal Justice System in America
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Download file to see previous pages The proliferation of privately funded prisons in America began in the 1980s when privately owned companies such as the CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) and Wackenhut Corrections were listed as legitimate companies and went public in the stock market (Shichor, 1995). The privatization of prisons, which began nearly three decades ago, due to the burgeoning population of inmates in the publicly funded prisons, and its direct impact on the budget and rising costs, is a phenomenon which can be best described as the takeover of the publicly funded prisons by a group of private operators and signifies the emergence of a whole new era, that has significantly impacted the criminal justice system in the country. The contemporary private prisons business which took off after a privately funded for-profit company, the Corrections Corporation of America, offered to lease a government facility, leading to a historical contract, that any government had ever entered into with a private operator. The aggressive policies towards curbing drug abuse, and the resultant strengthening of the laws, further gave an impetus to the private correctional facilities as more and more inmates were seen being transferred by the federal government to such private prisons. According to Cheung (2002) the federal involvement in privatization of prisons, due to the major overcrowding of the federal prisons is one of the fundamental reasons for the proliferation of private prisons in the country. Figure: Rise in number of inmates between the period 1980-2007 Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics Proponents of the privatization of prisons have argued that increased in privatization of prisons, help in cost savings thus garnering continued public as well as political support. Such a claim is backed by research conducted over the years to substantiate the hypothesis. It was observed that the private companies have significantly contributed in cost-savings by reducing cost-per-inmate and offering affordable services as compared to the public prisons (Steiner & Wooldredge 2009). However, this claim was further rejected by another study, which stated that there is hardly any difference with regard to cost-savings, since privatization has only contributed to approximately 1% savings (James & Garry, 2001). The underlying purpose of privatization of any government undertaking is to ensure better quality and effective service provision in the sector and afford cost-savings without compromising on the quality of the service delivered. Privately funded prisons have claimed that they offer better quality services as compared to public prisons, a claim which was substantiated with empirical evidence by researchers. In order to receive accreditation, prisons are required to fulfill various criteria, such as providing improved quality of services such as food, education, health etc., to the inmates; effective implementation of rehabilitative programs; and reducing the aggressive episodes between the staff and inmates, along with various other factors such as providing a safe and healthy living environment for both the staff as well as inmates (Logan, 1991; Lanza-Kaduce & Parker, 1998; Thomas, 1997; Archambeault, 1996). In recent study conducted by Segal (2005) it was observed that merely ten percent of the public prisons were able to fulfill the criteria to receive accred ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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