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Private Sector and Prison Industries

NCJ Number
G E Sexton; F C Farrow; B J Auerbach
Date Published
8 pages
This summary reports on a survey of private sector involvement in prison industries, provides examples of how private firms are participating in this area, and presents recommendations that corrections officials should consider in planning for such prison industry programs.
A survey commissioned to Criminal Justice Associates (CJA) by the National Institute of Justice found a strong interest on the part of correctional administrators, governors, and State legislators in private sector employment of prisoners. As of January 1985, it located 26 projects in which the private sector was involved with State prison industries and discovered that almost half the States have adopted legislation calling for some form of private sector involvement in prison industries. In addition, the Federal Government has relaxed some barriers to this type of activity. The summary defines six basic models for private sector involvement and gives examples: employer, investor, customer, manager, joint venture, and controlling customer. It then examines Federal and State laws which dramatically influence the policy, procedural, and organizational frameworks of prison industries. Three fundamental issues are identified as private sector employment, private sector contracting, and open market sales. A chart analyzes how State laws address 12 key operational issues. The CJA survey's main conclusions are highlighted. Areas covered include trends in the models preferred by small businesses and corporations, the extra resources required by private sector prison industries, wage disparities among prisoners, advantages for companies with specific labor needs, hidden business costs, and legal concerns. Recommendations for correctional agencies and private businesses conclude the document.