Private Prisons For Profit

Incarceration-for-profit: when the commercial imperative clashes with proper justice

The ethical operation of private prisons is something I have personally doubted for a very long time. Initially I wasn’t sure if it was just me overreacting and over-analysing each flaw without thinking of the benefits, however this article has just confirmed everything I have questioned about privately run correction facilities.

In Victoria, 2 out of 15 operating prisons are privately owned, that is soon to be 3 out of 16 with the new Ravenhall facility being constructed and due to open late 2017.
The two companies running these facilities are G4S and GEO Group.
Not only do they operate in total contrast to each other, but they also operate completely different to government run prisons. This is something that concerns me.

In all my interactions with staff from these companies, past and present, it has alarmed me how the inconsistency in standards across the board is so abundant.

With funding already being sparse in correctional departments, these private prisons reduce the cost even more by cutting numerous corners and gaining profit the most absurd ways.

So what?
So what they make profit off prisoners? They’re criminals anyways.
So what if they prioritise spending? That’s what successful businesses do.

This is not a case of the above. We are talking about peoples lives, their futures and fair criminal justice.
The article outlines how private prisons reduce spending through low standards of sanitation, reduction in services, employing inexperienced officers and decreasing quality of food. All these factors are crucial to the successful operation of prisons.

Most importantly is community safety.
If shortcuts are being made, particularly with the standard of staffing, this could lead to the compromise in safe prison operations.
It is a well known fact amongst prisoners that there is much more freedom at the privately operated Fulham facility which raises concerns and not just because they are a medium security prison.

Coincidentally as I write this post, two escapees from a privately run prison in Victoria have been found and returned to custody.
You can find the story here.

Another issue surrounding private prisons is the need for money since they are not completely funded by the government, only partially.
Being a business that doesn’t necessarily offer any services in return for money like your local grocery store, how do they make enough money to pay their staff, provide services for prisoners, provide food and clothing?


Prison industries are the big “ca-ching” in privately operated prisons.

In Port Phillip Prison, another private prison, I believe one of the employment opportunities is the manufacturing of number plates which are then sold to Vic Roads for a certain price per unit and then a portion given to the prisoner as their pay. It is not known what percentage of this pay is given to the inmates however I can tell you from seeing a kitchen inmates pay, it would not be much at all, somewhere around $9.00 per day according to recent findings. The rest going directly to the correctional company.

They get paid, they get given something to do and work experience!

Yes, all correct, however the issue begins when we start thinking of what the general aim of prisons are…yes, to incapacitate prisoners, but also to deter offenders from committing further crimes when released. However, privately run prisons need inmates to keep their ‘business’ running, so where is the motive to reform and rehabilitate them whilst incarcerated? If the crime rate goes down, there are less prisoners and if there are less prisoners, there are less prisoners to work and less profit for the business.

That is all I have to voice this time however feel free contact me with any queries, comments and concerns in relation to the issue.
I would love to know if you think there is a place for privately operated prisons in the criminal justice system and what the benefits are of this.

Until next time!