Editor’s observe: Private prisons have long stirred controversy, most just lately over their role in housing undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers on the U.S.-Mexico border. Several states have banned them, a number of banks have vowed to stop financing them and multiple presidential candidate has pledged to end them at the federal level.
John M. Eason, affiliate professor of sociology on the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has accomplished intensive analysis on personal prisons. We requested him to supply some background on why they’re so controversial.
1. What are personal prisons?
Private prisons are run or owned by corporations holding contracts with federal or state governments to deal with residents convicted of a criminal offense or immigrant detainees being processed for deportation.
The U.S. is one of only a handful of countries within the developed world that enable personal entities to personal prisons. Critics of personal prisons level out that revenue motives, coupled with a scarcity of oversight, can create incentives to minimize costs and care for inmates.
In 2014, roughly 8% – or 128,000 of 1.6 million U.S. prisoners – have been held in personal services. While solely 13.5% of the 1,663 U.S. prisons are private, greater than 55% of the 206 immigrant detention facilities are.
From 2000 to 2009 the variety of inmates in personal prisons increased significantly, however the trend has leveled out. Overall, the speed of jail constructing has decreased significantly since 2000 and practically 100 facilities have closed nationwide.
Some populous states like Connecticut, Michigan and Mississippi have slowed their price of imprisonment, however in southern states like Texas, Florida and Georgia inmate populations are level or continuing to rise.
My recent research means that the variety of prisoners has stagnated as a result of we aren’t setting up new prisons. In the previous, rising rates of incarceration was an outgrowth of the jail constructing increase.
2. Where are they constructed?
The U.S. started constructing personal jail in 1983. From 1995 to 2000, practically one in 4 U.S. prisons opened have been personal. Texas, Florida and Georgia collectively constructed 336 services or 20% of all U.S. prisons.
New Mexico homes virtually half of its prisoners in personal services. Texas has the most important inhabitants of personal prisoners.
Southern communities have been three times more likely to build a prison through the peak of the increase than every other. Prisons are most frequently in-built poor communities of shade.
3. Why are they controversial?
Those who argue for privatization say that it delivers companies at decrease prices, however studies show that beneficial properties in effectivity usually comes with unintended penalties.
For instance, much less accountability in personal prisons results in extra abuse of inmates. Food companies have delivered food laced with maggots. Prison meals service, now dominated by personal distributors, has been labeled by critics “a hidden public-health crisis.”
Many anti-privatization advocates consider that non-public operators are rife with exploitation. Almost all personal prisons are operated by five companies and Corrections Corporation of America controls greater than half the market with 53% of all services.
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