Private Corrections Institute Policy Brief: DO PRIVATE PRISONS SAVE MONEY?

Summary: The research on cost savings through prison privatization, dating back to a 1996 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, is equivocal. Some studies have shown savings while others indicate that private prisons are actually more expensive when all relevant cost factors are considered. Many of the studies that have found savings through privatization were funded by the private prison industry or organizations that receive funding from private prison companies. Most independent studies have determined that cost savings are inconclusive at best and illusory at worst. Even assuming that private prisons save money for taxpayers (e.g., that such savings do not go toward corporate profits), we get what we pay. Do we really want to be outsourcing the incarceration and supervision of dangerous prisoners to the lowest bidder?

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