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Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons

NCJ Number
James Austin Ph.D.; Garry Coventry Ph.D.
Date Published
95 pages
Publication Series
Recognizing one of the most significant challenges facing the correctional system involves prison overcrowding, the Bureau of Justice Assistance funded a nationwide study to explore issues pertaining to the privatization of prisons.
The study looked at historical factors associated with higher incarceration rates, the privatization movement, and the role played by the private sector in the prison system. The study also considered arguments in support of, and in opposition to privatized prisons, reviewed the literature on the subject, and looked at issues that could have an impact on future privatization efforts. The study found the average cost savings from privatization was only about 1 percent, compared to the projected 20 percent savings, and most of this cost savings was achieved through lower labor costs. Nonetheless, the mere prospect of privatization appeared to have a positive effect on prison administration, making it more responsive to reform. Future trends in the privatization of corrections are projected, and an appendix to the study provides practical guidelines for policy-makers who are considering the privatization of a correctional facility. 56 references, 21 notes, and 20 tables

Date Published: January 1, 2001