Leading Research & Issues Papers

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The Challenge of Comparing Public and Private Correctional Costs

Can privately operated prisons reduce costs without compromising performance?

Private Prison Map

Source: BJS. Prisoners in 2012. December 2013
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Recent Developments in the Federal Civil-Rights Liability of Federal Private Prisons

Subsection of Annual Privatization Report 2013: Criminal Justice and Corrections

Colorado Prison Utlization Study

Department of Corrections system wide analysis

Annual Privatization Report 2013

Privatization trends in local, state and federal government, plus roads, highways, aviation, education, telecom and more

Are Federal Contractors Immune from Tort Suits Just Because the Government Is?

Reviewing recent developments in government contractor immunity

Supreme Court Antitrust Ruling Supports Public-Private Neutrality, Reduces Barriers to Privatization

The Court clarified an ambiguity in existing federal antitrust law: to what extent are government entities exempt from the antitrust laws that govern private companies?

A.M. Reading: Maine considers private prison; N.Y. retirees 'tremble'

Prisons' economic value debated

Prison Vouchers

Under a voucher system, prisons would compete for prisoners, meaning that they will adopt policies valued by prisoners.

2012 Corrections Privatization Overview

Subsection of Annual Privatization Report 2013: Criminal Justice and Corrections

The Case for Private Prisons

Reform ideas in the United Kingdom

Private Prisons Have Public Benefits

California?s expensive and inefficient prison system it?s a challenge simply to warehouse the prisoners, let alone provide effective programs for rehabilitation.

Contracted prisons cut costs without sacrificing quality, study finds

Temple University's Center for Competitive Government estimates long-run savings of 12 percent to 58 percent when comparing private and public facilities
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Comparing the Performance of Private and Public Prisons

Commentary - If you can't win, change the rules , by Geoffrey Segal; April 4, 2006
The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) recently released its latest cost comparison study between the ADC operated facilities and private facilities operated for the state. State law requires these occasional reviews to be conducted and the previous two studies found that the private facilities operated with significantly fewer tax dollars than their government-run counterparts, achieving cost savings of 17, 13.6 and 10.8 percent in 1997, 1998, and 1999 respectively.

Comparing Public and Private Prisons on Quality

Testimony presented to "The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons" during October 2005.
Testimony presented by: Geoffrey F. Segal, Director of Government Reform, Reason Foundation

Public and Private Correctional Partnerships: Deflating Myths and Promoting Reality

Testimony presented to "The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons" during October 2005.
Testimony presented by: Richard P. Seiter, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Corrections Officer, Corrections Corporation of America


Testimony presented to the Utah Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee, September 21, 2005
Testimony presented by: Geoffrey F. Segal, Director of Government Reform, Reason Foundation

The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion

"In recent decades, growth in the number of people in U.S. prisons has been the largest in history - the prison population increased by more than one million between 1980 and 2000. To accommodate this growth, corrections officials have pursued a variety of strategies, including greatly expanding the network ... This report contributes to the limited knowledge base by developing an empirical understanding of the geographic locations of prison facilities - and therefore prisoners - following this record-level expansion over the past two decades."
© 2004 Urban Institute www.urban.org
Authors: Sarah Lawrence & Jeremy Travis

APCTO Releases First-Ever Study That Measures the Impact of Private Prisons on Public Corrections Budgets

Private prisons have proven to be an effective strategy for helping states keep their public corrections budgets under control, according to a new study by two researchers from Vanderbilt University and released by APCTO. In fact, introducing private prisons into states that do not currently utilize them could reduce public prison operating costs in a single state by an average $20 million annually.

The Interrelationship Between Public and Private Prisons: Does the Existence of Prisons Under Private Management Affect the Rate of Growth in Expenditures on Prisoners Under Public Management?

In this study, Professors James Blumstein of Vanderbilt Law School and Mark Cohen of Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management analyzed state prison and budget data for the period 1999-2001 - the years for which the most accurate information is available. The study shows that introducing even small levels of private prison use can have a large impact on public corrections expenditures.

Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Outsourcing Correctional Services: The Literature on Cost and Quality Comparisons

Prepared by equity analysts Henry J. Coffey and Carrington Fox at Morgan Lewis Githens & Ahn, this January, 2002 report provides an in-depth and well-informed assessment of the status and business prospects of many of the firms that comprise the private corrections industry.

Private Prisons: Quality Corrections at a Lower Cost

This link provides access to a comprehensive assessment of numerous studies which have found that correctional privatization typically yields equivalent or superior correctional services and does so at a signifcant cost savings to taxpayers. The study was prepared by Adrian T. Moore, who is affiliated with the Reason Public Policy Institute, and was published by RPPI in April of 1998. Other relevant RPPI research is available on its web site (www.rppi.org).

Private Prisons: A Sensible Solution

This study, prepared by Eric Montague, a research analyst at the Washington Policy Center and published by the Washington Policy Center in August of 2001 concludes that one solution for the nation's correctional problems is competitive contracting for prison construction and management. "Throughout the nation and the world," Montague argues, "vigorous competition among public and private prison firms is used to reduce the high cost of incarceration, while maintaining the high quality of service local communities expect. Market pressures and government oversight have combined to produce a responsive, efficient and effective private prison industry that can meet the demands of our state while encouraging existing government facilities to operate at an equally high level." This research report "discusses the benefits derived from free-market competition, and the experiences of other states in their prison privatization efforts. The study also analyzes the barriers to privatization here in Washington state, including the state's own contradictory findings on private prisons."

Comparative Cost and Performance Analysis from Florida

This recent study conducted and published by a state agency in Florida provides a highly unusual and thus important direct comparison of the construction and operating costs attributable to two 1,318-bed, high security prisons. The study documents construction cost savings by the private management firm of 24% below those of the state correctional agency and operating cost savings of 3.5% during the 1997-98 fiscal year and 10.6% during the 1998-99 fiscal year.

Private Prison Cost Savings in Arizona (Complete Report)

Privatization critics often but wrongfully contend that correctional privatization yields no meaningful cost savings to taxpayers. This recent report released by the Office of the Auditor General of the State of Arizona documents multi-year savings of millions of dollars.

Private Sector Corrections: The Promise of the Future

An essay prepared by David M. Cornell, Arlene R. Lissner, and Richard J. Gable (originally published by Cornell Companies, Inc. in August, 1998).