New Research and Papers
Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration
Nov. 2011. By David Shapiro. ACLU National Prison Project and Center for Justice. Part One of this Report traces the rise of the for-profit prison industry over the past 30 years, demonstrating that private prisons reaped lucrative spoils as incarceration rates reached historic levels. Part Two focuses on the supposed benefits associated with private prisons, showing that the view that private prison companies provide demonstrable economic benefits and humane facilities is debatable at best. Part Three discusses the tactics private prison companies have used to obtain control of more and more human beings and taxpayer dollars.
Building a Prison Economy in Rural America
By Tracy Huling. From Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, Marc Mauer and Meda Chesney-Lind, Editors. The New Press. 2002.
The Business of Punishing: Imediments to Accountability in the Private Corrections Industry
By Stephen Raher. Historical overview of prison privatization, its growth and legal issues concerning privatization including a focus on immigrant detention. Richmond Journal of Law and Public Interest. Winter 2010. Available online (as part of the full issue)
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) Decarceration Report Card (2015)
For the past three years, CURB has released an annual report card grading California counties on whether they're reducing the number of people incarcerated and investing in community solutions, or whether they're building new jails.This year, for the first time, every county received a failing score.It's been four years since realignment and one year since Prop 47. These reforms provided counties with critical opportunities to implement alternatives to incarceration, invest in community-based services, and strengthen the social safety net.But across the state, counties are prioritizing incarceration by expanding their jails and building new ones — with enormous social and economic costs.
Cost of Prisons in the United States
Click on any state to see the financial cost of prisons to taxpayers as well as prison population in each state. There is data on 40 states (not MA of course).
The Cost of Private Prisons. Report from Information In the Public Interest
The private prison industry claims that governments can save money by privatizing prisons, but what does the evidence actually indicate? This backgrounder summarizes recent research and state reports related to private prison costs, and then discusses some common, yet dangerously flawed and unsound tactics employed to make private prisons appear cost effective.
The Failed Promise of Prison Privatization
By Richard Culp, Ph.D., Prison Legal News, October 2011. Although hyperbole continues to propel prison privatization policy along, research findings are incontrovertible: even in the best private prisons, quality of prisoner care is no better than in public prisons and the cost advantage of privatization, which initially accounted for minimal savings, is steadily eroding as the private prison industry matures.
The big promises of prison privatization - less cost, higher quality - have simply not materialized. Despite these disappointing results, prison privatization advocacy maintains traction in diverse jurisdictions as policymakers from Ohio to Florida and from Maine to California seek expedient solutions to budget shortfalls triggered by a lingering great recession.
Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies
By the Justice Policy Institute (June 2011). Examines the political strategies of private prison companies and how they are able to wield influence over legislators and criminal justice policy, ultimately resulting in harsher criminal justice policies and the incarceration of more people. The report notes a "triangle of influence" built on campaign contributions, lobbying and relationships with current and former elected and appointed officials. Through this strategy, private prison companies have gained access to local, state, and federal policymakers and have back-channel influence to pass legislation that puts more people behind bars, adds to private prison populations and generates tremendous profits at U.S.taxpayers expense.
Impacts of Jail Expansion in New York State: A Hidden Burden
By Dana Kaplan, Center for Constitutional Rights. May 2007.
An excellent, comprehensive report on what is driving the building of jails in NYS includes important race-based analysis and recommendations to alternatives to jail building includes findings that that:
- Between 1999 and 2006, the New York state prison population had dropped from 71,000 to 62,928 people, a decrease of 8 percent in less than a decade. Despite the decrease in the prison population, the combined capacity of jails in upstate and suburban New York increased by 20.
- Jail construction has cost counties an estimated $1 billion, raising local property taxes in some instances as much as 40 percent and diverting money away from social services.
- The growth in the number of people incarcerated in jails has not been caused by an increase in crime or by an increase in population-rather, it has been caused by the expansion mandates issued by the SCOC and new arrest and detention policies, including arrest policies for low-level offenses and misdemeanors; a rising number of mentally ill people in jail; system inefficiencies; and the use of local jails to hold those detained by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Jail Leaders Speak: Current & Future Challenges to Jail Administration and Operations
A Summary Report To The Bureau of Justice Assistance July 27, 2007 The Center for Innovative Public Policies, Inc. A few excerpts:
- "we have to stop looking at ourselves as just jailers, and look at ourselves as part of a social service provider system...let's embrace this problem, fight for the funding, and just do it"
- "participants suggested that jails need to explore nothing less than a fundamental mission change that expands their official role beyond just traditional incarceration functions toward becoming an acknowledged medical/mental health service provider for an un-served segment of the local population"
- "this will require the type of public attitude change and widespread commitment with funding, that can only be accomplished with a national initiative"
- "with regard to re-entry endeavors, a similar theme was observed in terms of expanding the traditionally recognized boundaries of the jail to encompass the transitional services that have heretofore remained relatively exclusively within the realm of state corrections systems"
- "again, jail representatives are looking not only to officially acknowledge and bring into the operational mainstream a role that has long been neglected, but also to employ it to enhance their value-added position in the community"
No Escape: Exposure to Toxic Coal Waste at State Correctional Institution Fayette
(September 2014) A Report by the Abolitionist Law Center and the Human Rights Coalition.
"Surrounded by 'about 40 million tons of waste, two coal slurry ponds, and millions of cubic yards of coal combustion waste,' SCI Fayette is inescapably situated in the midst of a massive toxic waste dump."
Prison Bed Profiteers: How Corporations Are Reshaping Criminal Justice in the U.S.
National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD): A new report focusing on the disconnect between claims made by supporters of prison privatization and the true impact of the private prison industry. The report provides jurisdictions, communities, and advocates with information and recommendations regarding slowing the growth of private prisons and improving existing facilities.
Prisons, Jobs and Privatization: the Impact of Prisons on Employment Growth in Rural U.S. Counties, 1997-2004
By Shaun Genter, Tacoma Community College, Gregory Hooks, Washington State University,
Clayton Mosher, Washington State University. January 2013. Social Science Research.
Professors and Prison Guards: An Overview of California’s State Workforce
California Budget Project. April 2010. Some departments have shrunk these past two decades (most notably, the Department of Food and Agriculture declined 17 percent in payroll over that period). But one department has ballooned. The total state prison corrections budget has literally doubled over those same two decades; the system has grown at four times the rate of the rest of state employment.
Ultimately, the report makes a good case that (a) the prison system is a runaway train for state spending, and (b) that California is not going to be able to drastically reduce state employment without having a major impact on direct services to residents.
Texas Prison Bid'ness: An Interactive Map of Texas' Private Prisons
Texas is home to more than 70 private prisons, jails, and detention centers. The map gives readers a chance to see which private prison corporations operate the most prisons in Texas. The map also includes contact information for each facility, and the "facility pages"and "company pages" will track upcoming posts related to scandals and news involving specific private prison companies and their facilities.
The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers
Vera Institute of Justice. January 2012. State taxpayers pay, on average, 14 percent more on prisons than corrections department budgets reflect, according to the report The report found that among the 40 states that responded to a survey, the total fiscal year 2010 taxpayer cost of prisons was $38.8 billion, $5.4 billion more than in state corrections budgets for that year. When all costs are considered, the annual average taxpayer cost in these states was $31,166 per inmate.
PARTICIPATING STATES: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho. Illinois
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island. Texas, Utah,
Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin. Download the report and fact sheets for each participating state at http://vera.org/priceofprisons.
Too Good to be True: Private Prisons in America
The Sentencing Project. January 2012. The report details the history of private prisons in America, documents the increase in their use, and examines their purported benefits. Among the report's major findings:
- From 1999 to 2010 the use of private prisons increased by 40 percent at the state level and by 784 percent in the federal prison system.
- In 2010 seven states housed more than a quarter of their prison population in private facilities.
- Claims of private prisons' cost effectiveness are overstated and largely illusory.
- The services provided by private prisons are generally inferior to those found in publicly operated facilities.
- Private prison companies spend millions of dollars each year attempting to influence policy at the state and federal level.
Yes, In My Backyard
Yes, In My Backyard is a web-based clearinghouse of information on closing and reusing prisons in the United States. It provide facts, opinions and ideas about what happens when prisons close and how the empty buildings and surrounding property can be re-purposed in ways that benefit communities. The Project reports on prison and jail closures and reuse in urban, suburban and rural areas and is particularly concerned with the challenges of closing and reusing prisons in economically struggling rural places.