Temple University is investigating an ethics complaint that two of its professors did not properly disclose funding from the private prison industry for their research on the cost of incarceration.
Simon Hakim and Erwin Blackstone, economists on Temple's faculty since the mid-1970s, argued that they had been doing similar research for decades and always disclosed their funding when their work was completed. They said sometimes their research favors the funder and sometimes it does not.
In this case, it did. The professors concluded that private prisons save money while performing as well as or better than government-operated prisons and generate much-needed competition. In the private model, Hakim and Blackstone found long-term savings in taxpayer costs of 12 percent to 58 percent.
They touted the private model in op-eds they published in newspapers around the country, most with no mention of their funding source.
Neither of the researchers will say how much finding the three prison conglomerates—Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the GEO Group, and MTC—gave them.
If you'd like to check out some research on private prisons that has not been funded by the industry, take a look at the Sentencing Project's paper Too Good to Be True, which also cites US General Accounting Office findings (spoiler alert: private prisons don't actually produce serious public cost savings) and finds that for-profit incarceration is generally rotten for everybody involved (guards, prisoners, families of guards and prisoners) except for the shareholders in private-prison companies.
From the conclusion:
The Sentencing Project
Funders for that study include the Ford Foundation, the Methodist Church, the David Rockefeller Fund, and other people who don't stand to make any money off the researchers' conclusions. And they're listed right up front, on the second page.