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Essay about The Privatization of American Prisons

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The Privatization of American Prisons


Introduction

Since 1984, the California Penal System has been forced to undergo drastic changes resulting from increased legislation aimed at increasing the severity of retribution to offenders leading to an exponentially increasing prison population. In the 132 years between 1852 and 1984, the state of California built twelve prisons, but has since supplemented the prison system with 21 new facilities. In 1977, the California Department of Corrections was responsible for 19,600 inmates. California’s inmate population now stands at 160,655, an increase of close to 800%.

Across the nation, both local and federal prison systems have looked to private corporations to provide beds for the exponentially increasing number of inmates. But because of the powerful California Prison Guards Union, the growth of private prisons has been stifled. But with the election of conservative governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican said to favor privatization, the issue has taken front stage for the $5 billion California penal system, the largest in the nation.

Private Prisons and their Historical Emergence

Historical Tradition of Private Prisons

As far back as Middle Aged England, criminals were prosecuted privately at the request of private parties employing private prosecutors.

Beginning in England, during the mid 16th century, prisons began to encourage productive labor, in addition to the traditional application of confinement as a measure to curb vagrancy. During this period, prisons were often to expensive to build and maintain, and were therefore mainly operated in the private sector. Prisoners “paid” for their confinement from revenue resulting from their labor. Wor...


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National Center for Policy Analysis. (2001). Using the Private Sector to Deter Crime. Retrieved November 1, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http: //www.ncpa.org~ncpa/studies/s181/s181n.html

Pasholk, Shirley. (1999). Prisons for Profit. Retrieved October 25, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http: //www.socialsitaction.org/news/199912/prison.html

Schneider, Anne L. (1999). Public-Private partnerships in the U.S. Prison System. In Peter G. Herman (Ed.), The American Prison Systems (pp. 85-104). United States: H.W. Wilson Co.

Shichor, David. (1995). Punishment for Profit. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Smith, Phil. (1993). Private Prisons: Profits of Crime. Retrieved September 14, 2009 from http: //media filter.org/MFF/Prison.html

Tipp, Stacey L. (Ed). America's Prisons: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc.



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