Policies for contracting prison services have generated a lot of controversial debates in the criminal justice systems for years in the USA. Supporters of the idea affirm that privatizing prisons is beneficial to the criminal justice system and the public and those who oppose the idea strongly affirm that it is a waste of resources. The demerits of contracting prison services are solidly founded on lack of accountability, state responsibility, and gaming while the benefits are based on innovation, cost reduction, and quality of services (Petersilia, 2008).
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Critics argue that private contractors lack accountability in the way they spend public resources to offer prison services because they need to keep commercial confidentiality. On the other hand, it is the state that is only entitled to deprive individuals of their liberty, making the profit motive of penal reformers unethical because penal reformers run prisons at low costs to maximize profits by using poorly trained and cheaply paid prison operators (Petersilia, 2008).
However, those who oppose privatization are incorrect. Based on the contracting principle, private sector management has been shown that it offers high-quality prison services compared with the government (Belbot, 2004). Private organizations are highly innovative, operate free of red tape issues, offer high-quality services at lower costs, and operate with a profit motive that strengthens the accountability of the expenditure of public resources.
Belbot, B. (2004). Report on the Prison Litigation Reform Act: What have the courts decided so far?. The prison journal, 84(3), 290-316.
Petersilia, J. (2008). Influencing public policy: An embedded criminologist reflects on California prison reform. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 4(4), 335-356.