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Privatization of Juvenile Correctional Facilities in the U.S.: A Comparison of Conditions of Confinement in Private and Government Operated Programs

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 11 Issue: 2-3 Dated: December 1998 Pages: 289-301
R F Culp
Date Published
13 pages
Public and private juvenile training schools were compared with respect to rates of violence and other serious incidents and on variables related to management.
The research reviewed 13 empirical studies and analyzed data from the database generated by the nationwide study called Conditions of Confinement in Juvenile Detention and Corrections Facilities. That study gathered information from a mail survey of 984 juvenile correctional facilities and site visits to a random sample of 95 programs. The private training schools were all managed by nonprofit organizations. The analysis focused on overcrowding, serious incidents, institutional environment, and personnel. Results revealed that the private sector had an advantage in 23 of 30 indicators of conditions of confinement; 5 of the indicators were in the statistically significant. The occurrence of violence and other serious incidents appeared more related to management factors than to population pressures. Staff in private training schools appeared to have greater harmony and a greater sense of being respected among their residents. The private facilities had lower escape rates and significantly better control over inmate access to illicit drugs. The public training schools were more sanitary, cleaner, and better maintained than the private facilities. Public training schools had a potential advantage in their higher percentages of minority staff, but their apparent inability to manage their resources as effectively as did the private sector appeared to waste away this potential advantage with respect to escapes and serious incidents. Findings generally supported the conclusion that private training schools are operating more effectively than public facilities. Tables and 31 references