Un-privatize prisons

Katie Loughran, Staff writer

All prisons used to be under the direct control of our government until the establishment of multiple private prisons emerged into the legal system. These private prisons had their own goals and own ideals about cashing in on prisoners. These institutions followed the regulations and protocols set by the subdivisions of the Department of Justice or also known as the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The general goal of the prison system was to incarcerate and reform criminal behaviors.

That is until the war on drugs increased incarceration rates and the new era of private prisons began. Therefore the mindset of prisoners was changed. 

Privately owned facilities introduced a different take on rehabilitation and deterrence with a for-profit prison model and so began the unconstitutional, unsafe, and ethically unjustifiable business of private prisons. 

Private prisons place the well-being of their inmates second, so that profits may come first. These facilities often extend prisoners sentences so they remain incarcerated longer. Why you may ask? Because private prisons can only profit, if they have people inplace to profit from. 

In a study conducted by Wisconsin School of Business assistant professor Anita Mukherjee from 1996 to 2004 found that inmates held in private prisons in Mississippi from 1996 to 2004 served 4 to 7 percent longer than inmates serving similar sentences in public prisons.

Keeping these men and women behind bars simply to continue making money off of them is beyond inhumane. Private prisons are essentially stripping their inmates of their natural born rights and therefore is dehumanizing them in the process. 

Unfortunately, inmates are reduced to simply dollar signs instead of human beings  in need of rehabilitation, and kept in custody to create more cash flow. The private prison industry’s only loyalty is to their owners, meaning that they will do whatever they think is necessary to keep their owners happy.

Due to this, the industry tends to skimp out when it comes to spending money on things they don’t deem a high priority. Things not deemed as top priority include the wages and benefits and the training of their staff. 

In a 2016 Times article by Joseph Margulies, he writes; 

“More than a decade ago, researchers found that private facilities pay their officers less, provide fewer hours of training and have higher inmate-to-staff ratios, a combination which may account for their much higher turnover rate among correctional officers, as well as the uptick in inmate assaults.”

With so many glaringly obvious faults to be found within the private prison system, there is one huge claim made for them: they save the taxpayer money. Where a public prison may need $100 to house a single inmate, a private prison may claim they only need $50. Lower costs to house inmates, cutbacks on employee salaries and or training can all contribute to the argument that private prisons are better for the taxpayer than their public counterparts. 

But, is that really the case? It is often argued that private prisons can cost almost the same, if not, more than government-run prisons. Additionally, the mentality that any government-run facility can be cheaper if it is run privately triggers an automatic financial bias. This affects how facilities are operated because it replaces the government’s goal of overall betterment with greed. 

Private prisons are an abomination to the criminal justice system due to their  unconstitutional treatment of inmates. The overall notion of profiting off of someone else’s suffering is unjustifiable and the  reasons why they should no longer exist in today’s society. 

Even if the private prison industry saved taxpayers more money, does our nation truly value monetary gain over  its own citizens? Private prisons don’t help us, they hurt us.