Privatization of Prisons
Private Prison, Inc.
Introduction America has been getting tougher on lawbreakers. This is something that the public long has been demanding. The problem it creates, however, is a shortage of prison capacity to hold the increased numbers of convicted criminals. This has led to: prison overcrowding, sometimes prompting court actions against penal systems; rapidly rising operational outlays; and taxpayer resistance to the cost of new prisons. A partial answer to the problems of prison overcrowding and high costs may be the "privatization" of prisons. Costs and overcrowding problems are the driving force behind the privatization phenomenon. As a national average, it costs roughly $20,000 per year to keep an
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II. Ownership and operation of prisons at state level To date, private operation of correction centers has been limited to minimum-security facilities, such as halfway houses, juvenile homes, detention centers, and holding prisons for illegal aliens. Some 28 states allow private firms to operate such facilities. Several states are interested in extending private operation to maximum-security adult prisons. One such facility in St. Mary, Kentucky is owned and operated by U.S. Corrections Corporation. USCC has existed since 1986, and is the first private company to own and operate an adult state prison. USCC receives $25.35 per day per inmate for running the Kentucky state prison. CCA is the largest private correction organization in the country. CCA designs, constructs, finances, and manages both secure and non-secure facilities. In Tennessee CCA operates two juvenile centers and a county prison in Hamilton County, and a federal detention facility in Mason, Tennessee. In 1985, CCA proposed to operate the entire Tennessee State correctional system for 99 years. Governor Lamar Alexander supported the idea. It was blocked, however, by lobbying by some state officials and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. Officials of the ACLU argued that turning prisons over to the private sector means the government was shirking its responsibility. The ACLU is particularly concerned with questions of accountability and