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

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Dated: 2019 Pages: 295-321
John Wooldredge; Joshua C. Cochran
Date Published
27 pages
Since more rigorous comparisons of private and public corrections are needed to improve our understanding of the effects of privatization, this project developed a three]step procedure for assessing equivalence and then performance measures.

In order to illustrate the arguments, an empirical descriptive analysis of two private prisons and five structurally equivalent state]run prisons in Ohio was conducted, documenting 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 systematically assess client needs and programming, client behavior, staff climate, and a diverse set of outcomes that bear directly and indirectly on clientsf 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 significantly between a private and a public organization. (publisher abstract modified)