Symposium: Prison Privatization and Public Budgeting: A Meta-Analysis of the Literature

By Zager, Mary Ann; McGaha, Johnny et al. | Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Summer 2001 | Go to article overview

Symposium: Prison Privatization and Public Budgeting: A Meta-Analysis of the Literature


Zager, Mary Ann, McGaha, Johnny, Garcia, Lori, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management


ABSTRACT. Corrections is one of the largest growth industries of the 1990s. Correctional budgets are increasing faster than almost any other category in the public sector, consuming greater and greater shares of state, county, and federal budget appropriations. Faced with the dilemma of these growing costs, legislators are exploring privatization as a cost saving measure. Privatization can take many forms (e.g. privatizing services, privatizing construction, and privatizing operations at the institutional level), but privatizing prison operations is arguably the most controversial attempt at cost saving. There is an abundance of literature on the subject that influences legislators and public opinion but there are relatively few empirical studies that actually compare costs. In reviewing the prison privatization literature, conclusions regarding cost savings are mixed. The purpose of this paper is to assess the quality and quantity of empirical research on cost effectiveness of private vs. public prison management and to assess the impact of that research on the conclusions drawn in the privatization literature.

INTRODUCTION

Local and State appropriations for correctional expenses have been increasing faster than any other category of public sector spending. Between the years 1971 and 1985, for example, local and state government spending rose at an average rate of 10.1 %, while corrections costs grew 15 % on average each year, which is almost 50 % faster than other governmental costs (McDonald, 1989). Correctional budgets continued to rise in the early 1990's, while government budgets for other services such as public education, child-care, welfare, health care, and other human services were cut due to a severe economic recession.

Prison construction and operation has also become a major development industry and, consequently, an increased drain on public budgets due to the rapid and continuous growth of prison populations since the 1980s. For example, prison populations increased 134% from 315,974 in 1985 to 738,894 in 1990. This growth was a result of the "get tough" social control programs of the Reagan and Bush era, as well as the War on Drugs (Sechrest and Shichor, 1993). Those politicians (and their supporters) who are the most vocal in their demands for maintaining law and order and getting tough on criminals tend to be the most fiscally conservative.

As corrections continues to consume a greater and greater share of state and county budget appropriations one of the major issues facing legislators is the determination of costs, which increased by 240% between 1979 and 1985 (McDonald, 1989). Bond initiatives for prison construction failed to pass in several states in the early 1990's, while in other states they were passed by only a narrow margin (Shichor, 1995).

LITERATURE REVIEW

The rising crime rates, increasing prison population, and the skyrocketing budgets cost of corrections have resulted in a search for alternative solutions. One attractive alternative continues to be the privatization of prisons and corrections; this is due mainly to claims of curbing public expenditures and relieving prison overcrowding. Privatization advocates claim that the private sector can deliver a variety of goods and services traditionally provided by the public sector, at less cost and with more efficiency. Privatization proponents cite such successes with hard services such as building maintenance, health and food services, and even garbage collection as well as with capital costs (Carroll, Conant, and Easton, 1987; Robbins, 1995).

The use of privatization in various corrections programs is not new. In the 1820s, the houses of refuge in New York, the first juvenile institutions, were privately funded and operated. Many of the private community alternative and diversion programs developed as a result of Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) grants in the 1970s (Durham, 1989; Rogers and Mays, 1987). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Symposium: Prison Privatization and Public Budgeting: A Meta-Analysis of the Literature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.