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Private Prisons: Quality Corrections at a Lower Cost

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Publication Date: March 1998

Publisher(s): Reason Foundation

Author(s): Adrian T. Moore; Tom Rose

Topic: Justice (Prisons and correctional facilities and personnel)

Type: Report


Governments are incarcerating more criminals, but they have recently become unwilling to spend sufficient tax dollars for new prisons to house them. The prison system is increasingly characterized by overcrowding, lawsuits, and court orders. The evidence is overwhelming that the private sector delivers quality correctional services at lower cost, to the benefit of taxpayers. Moreover, public officials' experiences with contracting for correctional services, through contract terms, legislation, and best practices, has resolved many of the thorny questions that come up when privatizing corrections is suggested. This study examines the answers to such questions as: Can private correctional officers use deadly force? Can they manage riots? How can we be sure private prisons do not violate prisoners' rights? Do private correctional officers receive lower-quality training than government correctional officers? Have private prisons been "skimming the cream"--taking only low-security and less-expensive inmates?