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Private prisons fuel corruption

This piece originally appeared on the Northwest Missourian.


Capitalism, the beautiful system of America’s economy, allows for money making opportunities in almost every situation. There are a few things that should be off-limits to enterprise and the prison system should be firmly in the off-limits category

Privatized prisons have one goal in mind: not to rehabilitate prisoners but to make money on others’ mistakes anyway they can.

The difference between private and government prisons is similar to that of public and private universities. At the end of the day, the private prisons and private universities are for profit. It is trying to make money whatever way it can.

Private prisons make money on government stipends. The government will pay the prison X amount of dollars to house a prisoner, and the contract will continue as long as it is theoretically cheaper to house the prisoner in a private prison. More prisoners equals more money for private prisons

The private prisons then, like any good business, try to lower their costs in order to increase their profits. Private prisons house a little over 8% of the U.S. prison population, and they have a financial incentive to house more.

This system is flawed for multiple reasons, the first of which being the purpose of a prison. 

Prisons are designed as a punishment, yes, but also as a rehabilitation center to help inmates be able to make the jump back into normal society. However, private prisons have little-to-no incentive to help rehabilitate prisoners because that eliminates a possible revenue stream. 

The recidivism rate, the rate at which former inmates are arrested and enter back into prison, is high in the U.S. A study done by the U.S. Bureau of Justice showed that of prisoners released in 2005, 83% were arrested in the nine years following release. The system isn’t working the way it should, and private prisons have a vested interest in not changing that statistic.

Missouri is an example of a state that has lower recidivism rate and has absolutely zero private prisons. Missouri has a recidivism rate at 43.9%, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections, which is nearly half the national average. There are many factors that can go into this, but the lack of private prisons helps substantially.

Private prisons are not only bad for inmates, they are bad for employees as well. Employees of private prisons make $5,000 less per year than their government counterparts and receive nearly 60 hours less training, according to a study done by the Justice Policy Institute. This leads to a higher turnover rate and prison employees who are less prepared for their jobs, which is bad for both employees and prisoners. 

On top of all the problems that private prisons present, they’re morally wrong. Their goal is to keep people in prison longer or to get more inmates to maximize profits. 

The prison system is meant to prevent crimes and rehabilitate those that have already committed crimes, but private prisons goals are opposite to that. They want more convictions and more recidivism because it helps their bottom line. 

The private prisons don’t do the job of a prison, and they aren’t incentivized too. It’s time for them to end.


This piece originally appeared on the Northwest Missourian.

  

 

Posted in JPI in the News

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