Pros and Cons of Private Prisons: Critical Essay

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Private prisons are correctional and rehabilitation institutions that are managed by third-party institutions, not the state government as commonly perceived. In the USA, private prisons are mainly funded by the government through governmental contracts, which are majorly based on the number of prisoners and the average length of the prisoners’ sentences. It implies that the more the number of inmates these institutions can house with longer sentences, the more funding they get from the government. Ideally, private prisons are portrayed as non-profit making and are only supposed to help the government in housing inmates and reduce the government to ease overcrowding in state prisons. Apart from having a different management system from the state-owned institutions, private prisons have the privilege of declining to admit any prisoner. In most cases, they are likely to decline inmates who have health issues that would render housing them costlier as compared to other prisoners.

Owen, Paez, & Murphy (2016) argued that in terms of safety and quality, private prisons were equally comparable to their public counterparts, and thus the services offered in private facilities were as standardized as those offered in public ones. However, private prisons were better in terms of confiscating contraband from inmates as compared to their public counterparts. Additionally, inmates in private facilities are less likely to use drugs or be involved in sexual offenses while at the institutions. Besides, these institutions have recorded very low relapse rates among their offenders as compared to those housed in public facilities. Lastly, studies have shown that private facilities have fewer cases of inmate deaths as compared to their counterpart. All this shows the benefits that private prisons bring.

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Just like any business creates employment opportunities for the surrounding community, a private prison is also expected to create employment for the local population. The staff needed such as cooks, warders, administrative officers, and medical professionals among others would be outsourced from the local community, thereby creating jobs for the local population.

Moreover, in comparison to government institutions that have longer bureaucracies and red-tape processes, private entities are known to have faster decision-making systems, which makes them more efficient and prone to serve the interests of their stakeholders as compared to government institutions.

But private prisons also have their drawbacks. According to a study by Burkhardt (2017), private prisons record 50% more violence among inmates as compared to public institutions. The trend is majorly attributed to the fact that these institutions are more business-oriented and are likely to understaff their facilities so that they can maximize their profits. In some cases, it has been recorded that the officer-to-inmate ratio is 1 to 120, which forces the officers to use excessive violence to control the inmates. The understaffing in these facilities has also led to higher escape rates.

Another con is less transparency. Most private prisons do not disclose their details to the public in terms of the expenses their expenses versus the number of prisoners. Therefore, the public cannot efficiently audit these institutions for efficacy.

In addition, since private prisons focus on reducing expenses, the training given to inmates is also compromised. In the long run, most inmates in private institutions are subjected to lesser training opportunities.

In summary, private prisons have both pros and cons compared to their public counterparts. From my point of view, the cons are more important, because in this case, prisoners are not seen as people who need to be rehabilitated back into society, rather they are seen as a commodity that should bring in a profit. In such a scenario, they will find themselves in difficult working conditions, and even in the worst case, there may be a massive violation of fundamental human rights in the process of obtaining maximum profits. Besides, if prisons concentrate on profit-making rather than rehabilitation, then the whole concept of having offenders reprimanded in a correctional facility is violented, which would be a key indicator of failure in the justice system.

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Pros and Cons of Private Prisons: Critical Essay. (2023, November 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
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