Prisons should not be privatized because it is giving too much power to too many people with little regulation. One myth that comes with the concept of prison privatization is that private prisons will help economic growth in the community. A recent analysis was performed by Sociological degreed professionals, with no interest in the prison dispute. These professionals deduced that new correctional facilities only hindered private and overall economic development in low income rural areas. In fact, the facts show that, unlike popular belief, prisons do not aid in decreasing the unemployment rates or increasing household earnings. The building of prisons actually restricts other economic actions. According to the authors of the research:
With communities competing to attract prisons, corrections bureaucracies are shifting infrastructure costs to local governments. Communities are being forced to supply prisons with “electrical services, roads, and the other things to construct and operate a facility”….Under these pressures, rural counties desperate for jobs are diverting large portions of limited infrastructure budgets to support a correctional facility and adapting a limited infrastructure to the needs of a (new or existing) prison. As a result, the infrastructure may be ill suited for other potential employers, and local governments have few funds left for other investments in the local infrastructure (Dietch, 2004, p. 3, para 4).
Another myth that comes with the concept of prison privatization is that private prisons increase the rehabilitation and conditions an inmate is subjected to in prison. Sadly enough, this could not be farther from the truth. The experience of private prisons and other correctional facilities in Texas has shown that private prisons have a direct relation to reduced security, insufficient safeguard of prisoner’s civil rights, demeaning prison environment, and inadequate employment standards. Newspapers in Texas reflect the growing problems by being filled with stories concerning things like escape and abuse of prisoners (Deitch, 2004). The following is just a small portion of the major problems.
In 2004, a manager of training at Ben Reid Community Correctional Facility in Houston, Texas was charged with illegal substance distribution. In this same story, seven employees quit quickly thereafter because of positive drug test results. Meanwhile, in Texarkansas, Texas, a former officer at Bi-State Jail (known as CiviGenics) was detained for violation of a sexual nature with a prisoner of the opposite sex. The correctional officer faces charges of misconduct. CiviGenics was also responsible for the escape of three prisoners that were free for over a day’s time. As if that is not shocking enough, a couple of officers were found to be aiding in the escape of a couple of prisoners from BillClaytonDetentionCenter in Littlefield, Texas in the same year. Still not convinced? The saddest story yet that reflects why prisons should not be privatized is the story of a Bradshaw State Jail who is being sued after he purposely slammed the door on a prisoner’s fingers. The end result was the loss of two of the prisoner’s fingertips. What makes matters worse is the correctional officer is also facing charges for showing no remorse for his actions.
Clearly, something has to be done about prison overcrowding, but obviously as history and research has showed us, prison privatization is not the answer. The privatization of prisons will only worsen matters, not solve them.
Deitch, M.Y. (2004). Considering a private jail, prison, or detention center? Correctional Law Reporter. Retrieved March 20, 2007, from http://www.stoppcoalition.org/resources/Considering_a_private_jail.pdf