Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Privatizing Key Government Functions – Good or Bad?

Privatization deals affecting everything from parking meters to child welfare to public water systems are often negotiated in secret, carried out with little oversight, and subject to massive cost overruns and corruption. For example -

A recent study by "In the Public Interest" found that 65% of state and local for-profit prison contacts studied include quotas, which require state and local governments to maintain a high occupancy level in private facilities. These clauses provide incentives to keep prison beds filled, which run counter to many states’ public policy goals of reducing the prison population and increasing efforts for inmate rehabilitation.

In 2012, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the country, sent a letter to 48 state governors offering to buy up their public prisons. CCA offered to buy and operate a state’s prison in exchange for a 20 year contract, which would include a 90% quota for the entire term or a requirement that taxpayers pay for unused beds. While no state took CCA up on its offer, many existing prison privatization contracts contain such occupancy guarantees, with some as high as 100%.

Is it a good idea to contract out the U.S. prison system? Or are we just fostering a justice system run by corporations that want to imprison our citizens in order to make money? I believe we imprison a much higher percentage of people in the U.S. than any other countries – see latest figures.

What do you think about continued efforts to contract out many key functions previously performed by government? National Defense? Law Enforcement? Prisons? Public Schools? Is this good for the future of America?

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