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Reinventing an Industry: Free Enterprise in Corrections

NCJ Number
Corrections Management Quarterly Volume: 2 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 1998 Pages: 58-65
D K Massengale
Date Published
8 pages
Private-sector participation in the corrections profession, by bringing the dynamics of free enterprise into corrections, has elevated industry performance as a whole in several key respects: taxpayer cost saving, quality assurance, and operational effectiveness.
Cost saving is the benefit most valued by contracting agencies, since it is the most visible benefit passed on to taxpayers. Those who oppose privatization, however, argue that lower costs must mean a reduction in the quality of services and facilities. A careful examination of the cost savings shows, on the other hand, that the private sector effectively uses operational efficiencies, management autonomy, technology integration, and expanded capital resources to pass cost savings to the contracting government. Since the private-sector operators of correctional facilities and services must perform well to ensure contract continuation and the focus of the corrections enterprise is on accreditation and compliance with American Corrections Association standards, the motivation for quality services is present. With the successful combination of cost saving and quality assurance as the goal of privatization, ensuring operational effectiveness links these two elements by targeting the most cost-efficient, streamlined, effective strategies to achieve this balance. On the construction side, expediting the design-and-building phase of newly contracted facilities can rank as important as cost savings. The brand of project development and construction management offered by the private sector reduces construction time for needed bed space by an average of 100-200 percent, saving time as well as helping many jurisdictions avoid prolonged security risks and defaults of court orders. 7 references