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Privatization Revolution - What Washington Can Learn From State and Local Government

NCJ Number
Policy Review Dated: (Summer 1986) Pages: 68-72
P E Fixler; R W Poole
Date Published
5 pages
Governments' contracting of criminal justice operations to private firms has reduced costs without compromising service quality.
One of the first to enter the field of criminal justice privatization was Ted Nissen, a former employee of the California Department of Corrections. He first operated private halfway houses and work-furlough centers. His company, Behavioral Systems Southwest, then contracted to operate minimum-security detention facilities for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Nissen's firm is now providing a full range of corrections services, including design, construction, and operation of correctional facilities. The largest for-profit corrections firm is the Corrections Corporation of America, which operates several county prisons and has proposed operating the entire Tennessee prison system. The Wackenhut Corporation also provides criminal justice services under contract, including the operation of correctional facilities and police support services to provide security for public buildings, public parks, and public housing. The steady growth of privatization among local governments confirms its value. Studies have shown that governments can reduce their costs without compromising the quality of their services by contracting them out to private companies. Privatization is being fought by public employee unions, but it is likely to thrive under government spending constraints.