Private prisons have existed in the United States since the 1980s and were initially intended to relieve the stress of inmate overpopulation in government-run prisons. The debate of the morality behind running prisons for profit is controversial. The below advantages are used in the argument in favor of private prisons.
Private prisons save the government money. By outsourcing prison contracts, the government only has to go through the procurement process once. When managing a prison, costs can inflate quickly, and it’s helpful to not need to go through governmental red tape.
Private prisons can inject money into their prisons faster. If a government-run prison needs more money, there needs to be a petition and a number of bureaucratic sign-offs. A private prison needs only approval from the operating company.
Private prisons can operate at a lower budget because the free market can dictate wages, bonuses, and benefits paid to employees.
Outsourcing prisons allow the government in theory to dedicate more time to other governmental services.
Private prisons relieve stress on the penal system created by inmate overpopulation.
Private prisons rely on inmates to handle job functions within the prison, which saves money and also prepares an inmate for a job upon release.
Private prisons keep tax revenues in the localities which have to deal with having a prison within their city or town limits.
Studies have shown that recidivism levels are lower in inmates who served time in private prisons.
Private prisons can be converted to serve multiple functions. Some serve as immigration detention centers and some serve as safe centers in the community following a natural disaster. In Portland, Oregon, a vacant private prison brings in money by serving as a set for movies.
Citizens who have criminal justice degrees can have difficulty finding work in law enforcement. Private prisons offer jobs which can be used as stepping stones.