Can Privatized Prisons Work?
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22-08-2016, 03:40 AM
Can Privatized Prisons Work?
I don't have a firm opinion about privatized prisons. I have heard some arguments against privatized prison and it seems to me the most compelling case against them is a for profit prison business has no incentive to reduce recidivism. If anything, the argument goes, the for profit business has an incentive to increase recidivism.

I am a big believer in aligning incentives.

Would it really be that hard to construct a for profit business model around reduced recidivism? For instance suppose the business bared the entire cost of incarcerating a criminal but was paid by the government for every day the prisoner, after being freed, stayed out of prison. Could such a system work?
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22-08-2016, 05:01 AM
RE: Can Privatized Prisons Work?
The very concept is perverse. Incarcerating your citizens is not something a government should take lightly. When you outsource your responsibilities to a for-profit company, you cheapen the entire thing and seriously call into question your moral authority over the people you send to those prisons. It is a grotesque perversion of justice. The very idea of people profiting off of incarcerating people should make every American cringe. What's next? Do we outsource our national defense to the highest bidder? And, aside from the moral objections, this type of system is assured to be abused.

For example, a few years ago in PA there was a kickback scheme where judges got money in return for sending kids to a juvenile detention facility. Please note that the judges involved went to jail. The people from the private prison company were not, to the best of my knowledge, even charged with a crime.

Private prisons are also heavily involved in lobbying and throw a ridiculous amount of money around Washington and state capitals to ensure the penal code is not updated and we continue to throw as many people as possible into prison. This kind of immediate cash-benefit arrangement is simply not good for a democracy. The entire concept is an abomination and should be done away with.

There are certain government responsibilities, like the building and maintaining roads, where it makes sense to hire private for-profit contractors. It's unrealistic to expect a government to maintain a dispersed staff to handle all construction and maintenance. But, something that is ongoing in fixed locations like a prison is a different matter entirely.

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22-08-2016, 06:09 AM (This post was last modified: 22-08-2016 07:00 AM by DLJ.)
RE: Can Privatized Prisons Work?
(22-08-2016 03:40 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  ...
I am a big believer in aligning incentives.
...

Me too.

The private sector is beholden to its shareholders so Government would have to maintain a 51% share and reserve the right to determine the metrics for the incentives.

Ancient Chinese doctors were paid on the basis of their villagers not getting sick. They weren't paid for unsickening them.

For the metric you suggested, what private prison would take someone who has a life sentence? If they did, I bet there would be more 'fatal accidents'.

So, there may have to be different incentives for different sentences.

The 'time spent crime-free' metric would have to be capped not open-ended and that cap might have to be a related to the time spent inside e.g.
A five year sentence ... convict serves 3 years and the prison gets paid for 2; or 4 and 1; or 1 and 4 etc.

This would encourage the prison to rehabilitate people more quickly but it would also encourage them to release people too soon so a non-profit parole board would have to be the arbitrator.

To qualify BnW's post slightly... it's OK to out-source responsibility but not accountability.

Edited to add...
Having just watched this I'm thinking that the US should consider nationalising breweries to raise the standards of piss-ups as the private sector obviously can't be trusted with basic essential services.




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22-08-2016, 07:09 AM
RE: Can Privatized Prisons Work?
Prisons should be owned by the government and viewed as an expense only. As an expense, the government's incentive is to prevent as many prisoners as possible by producing citizens equipped with life skills necessary to keep out of prison. Citizens feed and shelter themselves and pay taxes rather than only sit in a cell consuming resources. Roughly 3% of the population is comprised of sociopaths. Our benchmark should involve the vast majority of prisoners being sociopaths incapable of rehabilitation. Hell, even many sociopaths are capable of being productive citizens in business and the medical field.

As far as I'm aware, there is no method proven to rehabilitate sexual predators. Personally, I think child sex crimes should be a life sentence. Meaning separate from society. I don't care if they farm all day or get an online college education and do scientific research behind prison walls, in turn providing benefit to our society. The point is to prevent harm - we're too focused on satisfying an emotional need for retribution, and it's just not effective.

Once again, this is why I'm all for legalizing drugs and disbanding the DEA. Take those funds and funnel them to mental health, which includes those of our prisoners. Our goal is to get crime rates as close to zero as possible.

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22-08-2016, 07:36 AM
RE: Can Privatized Prisons Work?
For-profit prisons are just like Obamacare.

It's a foolish attempt to save money by adding a layer of management.

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22-08-2016, 09:45 AM
RE: Can Privatized Prisons Work?
Private prisons are obnoxious.

Quote:Would it really be that hard to construct a for profit business model around reduced recidivism? For instance suppose the business bared the entire cost of incarcerating a criminal but was paid by the government for every day the prisoner, after being freed, stayed out of prison. Could such a system work?

I don't think it would work, that would get very expensive.
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22-08-2016, 09:49 AM
RE: Can Privatized Prisons Work?
If you as a country are at a point where you are considering to privatise the prison system, you have a more fundamental and more serious problem than just "how do i handle this situation?". Your fundamental problem is related to a different question and that is: "How the fuck did i get that far? Do i have not enough money or too many prisoners?
1) Money: Does my tax system suck? Does a alot of tax get lost by corruption? Are my taxes too low? Is my tax collecting system not effective? etc.
2) Prisoners: Is the crime rate too high? If so, why? Are the laws to strict? Is there a disconnect between the legislative (parliament) and the population? etc.

You need to investigate root causes rather than applying duct tape privatisation.

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22-08-2016, 11:09 AM
RE: Can Privatized Prisons Work?
(22-08-2016 09:49 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  If you as a country are at a point where you are considering to privatise the prison system, you have a more fundamental and more serious problem than just "how do i handle this situation?". Your fundamental problem is related to a different question and that is: "How the fuck did i get that far? Do i have not enough money or too many prisoners?
1) Money: Does my tax system suck? Does a alot of tax get lost by corruption? Are my taxes too low? Is my tax collecting system not effective? etc.
2) Prisoners: Is the crime rate too high? If so, why? Are the laws to strict? Is there a disconnect between the legislative (parliament) and the population? etc.

You need to investigate root causes rather than applying duct tape privatisation.

All excellent points! There are already a bunch of privatized prisons.
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22-08-2016, 04:16 PM
RE: Can Privatized Prisons Work?
(22-08-2016 09:49 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  You need to investigate root causes rather than applying duct tape privatisation.

That is a truly horrid sentence. So many painful connotations.

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22-08-2016, 04:29 PM
RE: Can Privatized Prisons Work?
(22-08-2016 03:40 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  I don't have a firm opinion about privatized prisons. I have heard some arguments against privatized prison and it seems to me the most compelling case against them is a for profit prison business has no incentive to reduce recidivism. If anything, the argument goes, the for profit business has an incentive to increase recidivism.

I am a big believer in aligning incentives.

Would it really be that hard to construct a for profit business model around reduced recidivism? For instance suppose the business bared the entire cost of incarcerating a criminal but was paid by the government for every day the prisoner, after being freed, stayed out of prison. Could such a system work?

I'm generally with Nurse on this subject, but I suppose a private prison system could work. It just doesn't work as is. Maybe a repeat offender is returned to the prison they were released from on the prison's dime, such that the prison management provides some sort of guarantee on the rehabilitation process.
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