6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Private Prisons

When people hear the word “prison”, they usually think of government-run jails. However, it’s important to note that not all prisons nowadays are managed by the government since there are now jails that are run by private entities. Private prisons come into life when a) the government builds the prison and outsources its management, b) a third party builds the prison and manages it with approval from the government, or c) an existing government prison is outsourced to a private operator.

Private prisons have many proponents, but a lot of people have voiced out against these over the years. To learn more about this argument, you first must know about the advantages and disadvantages of private prisons.

List of Advantages of Private Prisons

1. They help lower prison populations.
State and federal prisons are usually overpopulated, causing prisoners to suffer from poor physical and mental health and making safety and security difficult to maintain. But, since a substantial number of inmates can now be sent to private prisons, the populations in government-run jails can be reduced. This ensures that both public and private prisons maintain an ideal number of populations and creating decent living conditions for prisoners.

2. They create more jobs.
Private prisons can’t function without any employees, which is why they need to hire people to cook for the prisoners and maintain peace and order within the facility. This, in turn, helps unemployed people and gives them a way to earn money to support themselves and their families.

3. They usually have lower expenses.
Since they’re not under strict government regulations, private prisons have the option to give minimum wages to their staff and not provide them with insurance and other benefits. They can also buy supplies, tools, and equipment in bulk at the lowest possible prices, without having to go through intense bidding processes. All of these mean that private prisons can keep their costs down and help the government and taxpayers save money.

List of Disadvantages of Private Prisons

1. They can compromise health and safety.
Many private prisons feel pressured to keep their expenses low, and they try to cut corners as much as they can. This usually results to low-nutrition food for the prisoners, low-quality uniforms, toiletries, and bedding, and poorly kept facilities that don’t promote good health and safety.

2. They may not be secure.
There have been several instances when inmates were able to escape from private prisons. Investigations found out that the prisons where these escapees came from did not take all the necessary precautions to maintain excellent security (such as installing CCTVs and sturdy fences) and prevent inmates from escaping. Private prisons may also not provide adequate training to their staff in a bid to save money.

3. They encourage corruption.
Private prisons are businesses that are run by shrewd business owners, who would do everything to keep money pouring into their wallets. There have been cases when private prison owners bribed judges to award higher sentences to prisoners and send them to private jails. Private prison owners may also keep most of the money they receive from the government and spend just a small amount on the inmates’ food, sanitation, and healthcare.

Conclusion

Private prisons can bring about several benefits, but they also have drawbacks. Because of this, the government should find a balance to enjoy the advantages of private jails while minimizing their disadvantages.