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The Shocking Ways the Corporate Prison Industry Games the System

The private prison system has rebounded, growing dramatically, and making big bucks with huge help from the Feds, as large numbers of immigrants are incarcerated.

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Private Prisons Must Go

Despite the questionable cost-cutting measures that private prisons have employed, there is little to no evidence that they cost less than government run corrections as privatization advocates have claimed.

According to Shapiro, evidence behind the assertion that private prisons save money is “mixed at best,” with a number of studies even showing that privatizing jails may actually cost the state more money.  An analysis conducted by the Arizona Department of Corrections of the state’s prisons indicated just that, finding that Arizona’s prisons may be more costly than publicly run prisons even though they avoid housing sick inmates to save on healthcare costs, something state run facilities cannot do.  In 2007, researchers from the University of Utah Criminal Justice Center published a meta-analysis of previous privatization studies and concluded, “Cost savings from privatization are not guaranteed and quality of services is not improved. Across the board effect sizes were small, so small that the value of moving to a privately managed system is questionable.”

Shapiro added, “In general the evidence that there are these cost savings associated is questionable and dangerous because the only way that money really can be saved is by putting less people in prison.   This argument has the potential to get politicians side-tracked from the making the moral and ethical and financially sustainable decisions.”

Shapiro believes the best way to scale back the abuses of the private prison industry is to reduce the number of people in prison.  “This is crippling state budgets.  We can’t pay for roads or schools because so much money being funneled in corrections.  It’s tearing apart families and communities completely counterproductive. It’s good for no one except the private prison industry,” says Shapiro.

Rania Khalek is an associate writer for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter  @RaniaKhalek.

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