Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Private Prisons Fund Research Showing How Great Private Prisons Are

Posted by on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Did you hear about that Temple University study showing how wonderful and necessary private prisons are? It was funded—at least in part and maybe almost entirely—by private prisons.

Take it away, Philadelphia Inquirer:

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.


Comments (9) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Dougsf 1
Private prisons are immoral. We hold all citizens to a certain standard of law—punishing them should be our burden to bear as well.
Posted by Dougsf on July 16, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 2
I'm a libertarian and hate big government and would support ending most government monopolies. That being said, one thing the government SHOULD have a monopoly on is law enforcement and criminal rehabilitation.
How could anyone think that putting corporations in charge of prisons is a good idea is beyond me. America needs real prison reform, like working to rehabilitate criminals and not just locking them away to be abused in a pen. That can only happen through government, not the private sector.
We've seen how much of a disaster the military industrial complex is, and the prison industrial complex is just as bad. Remember that Judge who sentenced a teenager to years in prion for possession of a pipe? A teenager who killed himself rather than go back to jail? Well, that judge was bribed by the private prison industry.…
How can anyone read that and still support private prisons I don't know.
Just further proof that when big government and big business hook up, you get the very worst of both.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on July 16, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 3
Fuck! Copy and pasted the wrong link. I bad. Here's the one to the story I was talking about:…
Posted by collectivism_sucks on July 16, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
fletc3her 4
The math just doesn't work out on these virtual monopolies. There is no effective competition since changing prison providers is so difficult. We simply add the cost of their profit on top of the expenses we already carry and we get no benefit in the way of reduced liability.
Posted by fletc3her on July 16, 2014 at 1:57 PM · Report this
Post_Mortem 5
I am shocked that economists can be bought. Shocked.
Posted by Post_Mortem on July 16, 2014 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 6
There is no greater threat to our national security than the prison/industrial complex and it's corruption.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on July 16, 2014 at 2:12 PM · Report this
Hey, I just funded research (gave myself a penny) to explore my worthiness of getting a billion dollars from the government.

This blue ribbon research committee has unanimously recommended that I should receive a HUNDRED billion dollars.

Gasp, I would just like to say how proud I am to be recognized for my greatness by this illustrious panel of experts and to state my sincere thanks for their exuberant generosity in confirmed belief of my obvious excellence.

Applause, applause, applause.

[Insert grubby, little paw]

Check, please.
Posted by No Corrections Corp Needed on July 16, 2014 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 8
In some sort of weird vortex-induced alternative universe, I *gulp* agree with 'collectivism sucks'. I'm sure that will be corrected by tomorrow.

Private prisons are repugnant in every way. They provide no benefit to society, the government, prisoners, or staff. The only person(s) that benefit in any way is the corporate profiteers—the 1%—that run them. The US imprisons a higher percentage of our population than anyplace else on earth. These private prisons have a profit motive to see that we imprison more of our citizens for as long as possible. Every word they utter should be treated with the greatest skepticism... as should this 'study'.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on July 16, 2014 at 3:52 PM · Report this
Dougsf 9
@8 - when you're right, you're right I guess.

I'm certainly no constitutional law expert, but I'd really like to see notion of selling people convicted of crimes to privately held institutions like this be challenged.
Posted by Dougsf on July 16, 2014 at 4:34 PM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy