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Equal or Not? Private Versus Public Corrections Services, Programming, and Climate

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: Online Dated: May 2019
Date Published
May 2019
27 pages
Since more rigorous comparisons of private and public corrections are needed to improve understanding of the effects of privatization,the current project developed a three-step procedure for assessing equivalence and then performance measures; and to illustrate these arguments, it conducted an empirical descriptive analysis of two private prisons and five structurally equivalent state-run prisons in Ohio and documented heterogeneity in resources, staff climate, and inmate behaviors.
The discussion and analyses emphasize how comparability across private and public corrections should not be assumed. Comparisons should focus on organizations with similar infrastructures and then systematically used to assess client needs and programming, client behavior, staff climate, and a diverse set of outcomes that bear directly and indirectly on clients' well-being. In so doing, researchers can better set the bar that privatization is supposed to reach or exceed. They can also conduct more credible impact assessments. Cost savings, for example, do not necessarily occur when contracted services do not match those offered through public corrections or when clientele differ dramatically between a private and a public organization. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: May 1, 2019