In America today, there is a trend in corrections of taking the duty of running prisons out of the hands of state and federal authorities and contracting it out to private organizations. Along with the drift to privatization is a plethora of research pertaining to the subject taking many different approaches to analyzing the effectiveness. The majority of research focuses on one of three areas. The first questioning whether or not it is cost effective to make the switch. The second being the ethical problems that can and have risen from the privatization of prisons. The third being a wide painting of the change and the implications it has on society as a whole.
When the changes came about, there were an excessive amount of variables that made the privatization of prisons a problematic change and a ill conceived solution to a larger issue. Now that privatization has been in practice for some time, many issues are coming out into the public's eye. For one, there is little evidence to support the notion that it is more cost effective. Another is that the ethical issues are being taken to the extreme. The privatization of prisons is in no manner a solution to any problems that the criminal justice system is facing, and government should not delegate coercive authority to private entities.
History of Prison Privatization:
In the United States of America, prison privatization began to increase in popularity around the late 19th century. There are many reasons that the idea became increasingly entertained. These reasons include the egregious overcrowding of government run facilities, citizens' forceful promotion of policies to further increase the American prison population, and increasing cost to maintain the increasing prison population of the United states. These factors led to the ride of privatization in the 1980s and 1990s.
The idea of privatizing correctional facilities did not arise in the 80s and 90s, rather they had been around in assorted forms throughout the history of the United States and England. For American society, the idea is very easily traced back to England. England was the leader in developing ideas on corrections for criminals and practices that put the ideas to use. In England, privately operated “Prosecution societies” were forerunners to the contemporary, government funded, system of criminal prosecution. Privatized origins are not only seen in the prison operation, but in many aspects of the criminal justice process. The modern system of policing has its origins in voluntary and, largely, private law enforcement strategies. The longer corrections remained private, the more corruption spread among the field. After an extended time where corrections were private in nature, it was picked up by the government to increase the justness. In remained publicly controlled for centuries to follow. This public ownership followed into the American colonies and eventually the United States. (Babcock, 1985)