Los Angeles, CA
Corrections involves the delivery of justice; it is a fundamental government responsibility and should not be contracted out under a bidding-out system. There are inherent conflicts of interest in privatized corrections. The profit motive creates perverse incentives to expand the prison system and undermines sound criminal justice policy.
Corrections systems, confronted with pressure to relieve overcrowding and fiscal constraints, have turned to prison privatization. Economically depressed communities have accepted private prisons as a means of economic development. Private prison companies promise these communities jobs, tax revenues and a number of other incentives. However, the expected benefits of private prisons are not worth the risk to public safety.
Private prison firms generate profits by employing non-union labor, under-staffing facilities, paying employees inferior wages and fewer benefits, providing inadequate staff training, and providing inadequate services. These practices and high staff turnover endanger communities and workers, erode local economies, and increase the liability for contracting jurisdictions.
Despite all the ways that private management firms cut corners, according to the Government Accounting Office, there is no conclusive evidence that prison privatization saves dollars. However, there are numerous "horror" stories at private prisons in places like Youngstown, Ohio; Travis County, Texas; Jena, Louisiana; and Santa Rosa and Hobbs, New Mexico.
Many state and local governments have failed to govern the operation of private prisons, and many contracting jurisdictions do not have adequate systems of oversight to ensure public safety and proper accountability. Private prisons can refuse to provide basic information about their operations that public prisons are required to provide. Privacy and secrecy of private prisons are obvious incentives to corruption.
The current interstate commerce in prisoners by private prison corporations is one of the tragedies of prison privatization. Prisoners are incarcerated at great distances from their families, homes and communities. Prisoners in these circumstances are less likely to reintegrate themselves successfully on release, and are far more likely to be returned to prison.
The operation of prisons is inherently a responsibility of government. The profit motive driving private prisons leads to dangerous conditions inside and outside the prison walls, and does not save taxpayers money. Prison privatization only benefits corporations and their shareholders. The AFL-CIO opposes the privatization of prisons at the local, state and federal level.