Private prisons are not the same as free prisons..

Discussions on prison as an economic entity keep coming. This blog posted about  US ending private ownership of Federal prisons. There was another article which discussed how Ramen noodles are replacing cigarettes as the currency in US prisons.

Further on the first bit on ownership, here is a piece which says  private prisons are not same as free prisons:

Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced that it plans to stop using privately run prisons after a report found that they were often less safe for inmates than federally run facilities. While it is admirable for the federal government to finally start taking an interest in the well-being of its incarcerated population, referring to these facilities as “private” can be grossly misleading.

A truly private organization is characterized by competition in a free marketplace. A private organization does not enjoy any monopoly powers conferred by the state. Nor are the taxpayers forced to pay for the services of any private organization through their tax dollars. “Private” prisons, on the other hand, are nothing like a truly private organization.  

Specifically, these privately run prisons contract with the federal government to act as agents for the state, paid to create more space for our already massive prison population.

While these prisons have had an awful reputation of prisoner abuse and poor living conditions, including reports of contaminated food, it is important to remember that the problem exists not because the prisons are privately owned. The problem stems from the fact that the state is the entity responsible for propping up these facilities and creating the demand for more prisons in the first place.

This is a common mistake most of us make. To associate privatisation/private sector with free markets. Nothing could be further from truth as we are seeing how doyens of private enterprise are just falling apart. They were fooling us all the way that they were part of free enterprise whereas all they were doing was cosying with govt.

Though again, should prison systems be owned by public sector or private of the free variety?


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