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Building a Private Prison

Authors Note
For my researched project, I decided to create a proposal type document that was
backed up with extensive research on the topic. In the first portion of the written document
gives an understanding of what a private prison is. For the second portion I provide details on
actually operating a private prison. I create a hypothetical situation as if I was to be opening my
own prison. When I explain my plan for operating the prison, my goal was to make it similar to
a proposal. I incorporated what I learned from Chapter 16, which states that when creating a
proposal you must understand the context, have a plan and a way to do it, and make sure it is
professional and we were committed. My ideas for my prison came from the research I did on
America’s current prison situation and looking to model off of other countries. Another reason I
was intrigued in private prisons is because I have an Uncle in a private prison due to several
DUI’s. Having a family member in prison and understanding what it is like for them, makes me
have stronger feelings towards change in the prison system.I hope that this document illus-
trates an improved plan for the prison system today and is informative on private prisons.
The organization and aesthetic of my paper was meant to be kept simple. I made sure to
have informative headings and consider the idea of “advance organizer” headings. For example,
under the header “Rehabilitation Programs” , I provide the background and purpose. Then the
headings following are examples of these programs. Another idea I used in my formatting is or-
ganizing from general to specific. In the section “Prisons in Other Countries”, I give the reader a
general understanding of the subject and then proceed to smaller details about the prison. In
this section I also decided to provide a graph so that the reader can really understand what I am
discussing. Finally, this could be a boring subject for audiences that have no interest in private
prisons that is why I used colors that stood out. I wanted to keep the document formal and seri-
ous while still containing some liveliness.
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Introduction
In the United States when a person is arrested they are required to serve their sentence in ei-
ther a private or public prison. There has always been controversy over which prison is better.
However, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world,so there should be
more talk on how we will improve our prison systems to end this. Many people look down upon
private prisons because they are seen as “for profit” , not for actually benefiting the prisoner.
They need a constant flow of inmates which can result in lobbying. There is always going to be
people who need to be incarcerated so the goal is to develop a higher quality prison that keeps
those who were in prison, out of prison once they are released. Across the United States it is
estimated that there are 2,300,00 people who are incarcerated. More than half of these people
have been arrested and put in prison more than once. Whether a prisoner is serving their time
in a public or private prison, very few actually have a rehabilitation program that works to keep
inmates out of jail. The United States should be looking to model after the many other coun-
tries with much better prison systems.

Background
A private prison differs from a public prison in the way of who owns the prison. A public
prison is owned and operated by the government. Their main source of funding is ac-
quired from taxpayers. Each year about $80 billion is spent on incarceration, this means
each taxpayer is paying $260 per year towards the prison system (Genfkd.org). Many
U.S. residents do not support their taxes going towards incarceration. In order to let the
taxpayers know how their money is being used, public prisons have to make certain in-
formation about the prison available to the public.

On the other hand, a private prison is one that is owned by a private company. They are
responsible for operating and managing the prison. They do not have to release infor-
mation on how their money is being spent because taxpayers money does not go to
them directly. The private prison does not need to provide inmates themselves because
they are provided by the government. They can decline to house any criminal the gov-
ernment gives them. This demonstrates the amount of freedom they have compared to
public facilities. Governments at all levels can seek out a private firm and give them a
bid to operate a prison. The government provides the prisoners and pays the private
prison a certain amount of money for each prisoner. For example, if the private prison
has 1,000 inmates and the government offers to give them $50 a day for each prisoner
that is $50,000 a day that the private prison would be making. The third party owner of
the prison is able to attain this money through the contract they develop with the gov-
ernment.
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History
The idea of private prisons dates back as early as the colonial days when prisons were operated
on plantations. The criminals were forced to work on the plantation while the owners made a
profit. As the idea grew, businesses began to use prisoners are a source of cheap labor. An ex-
ample of this, was the US Steel Company which forced prisoners to work in the coal mines
(Bauer,2018). This one of the first examples of a business using a prison for profit,however, it
did not last long. By the 1920s for-profit prisons were coming to an end due to labor reforms
and industries claiming it was unfair competition. It was not until the 1970s that privatization of
prisons began to reappear.
The idea of privatization of public services was brought to attention during New York’s fiscal
crisis. They were experiencing a decline in revenues due to a decreased tax base and lower
grant level(Sellers). Because of this they needed to make cuts in the governments fundings and
one way to do so was allowing the privatization of certain services. Privatization can be defined
as “any shift of activities or functions from the state to the private sector”(Starr). It began as
the re-privatization of food and medical services. However, it did not take long for prisons and
jails to become involved. In 1984, the state of Tennessee contracted with Corrections Corpora-
tion of America, a large private prison contractor to run their prison(Anderson). Tennessee was
the first state to contract out a prison to a private firm. By 2004, 34 other states had followed
the idea of privatization prisons.
Another factor in the increase of privatization was sentencing laws had become stricter. This
resulted in a growing prison population, however, voters rejected the idea of expanding pris-
ons. Therefore, states decided to turn to private companies to operate these prisons because to
do so they needed no voter approval. As of 2016 8.5% of the prison population is housed in pri-
vate prisons in the United States.

Benefits of Private Prison

I. Cost Savings
Many private prisons are looked down upon for being for profit, however, there
are actually many benefits. When attempting to save money state governments
can look to private prisons. It was found that in 2000, prisons were 20% overca-
pacity (Pratt). This was an indicator that more prisons were needed and the gov-
ernment was going to have to suffer from the high costs of operating a new
prison. Policy makers were able to turn to private companies and give them the
job of operating private prisons. This demonstrates how a private prison can alle-
viate the costs governments face when housing inmates.
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There was a study conducted by Julianne Nelson on the cost comparison be-
tween a private and a public prison. It demonstrates how a private prison is less
expensive for the government. She found that the private prison in Taft, CA was
$33.21 to $38.68 per inmate while the public was $34.84 to $40.71. Even
though, this difference is small, over the years it can begin to add up. Another
benefit is private prisons can help control prison populations levels. Public pris-
ons tend to get overcrowded. Private prisons offer a place for the government to
send prisoners where they can live in much better conditions. This is a better op-
tion for inmates with minor offenses who do not a need who do not need as high
of security.

II. Construction Time


A private prison does not need to be approved by voters. A common issue with
attempting to build a prison is that in most circumstances the voters do not ap-
prove their tax money being used towards the construction. This results in the
construction being delayed. It can take the government 2.5 years to construct a
new prison, while a private company can do this in half the time(Moore). They
are able to do it much faster because they do not need to worry about the same
rules and regulations as the government.

III. Inmate Lives


Private prisons also have more potential to benefit the inmates. They tend to
hold less inmates which makes it easier to focus on each individual and provide
better rehabilitation. The Florida legislators found that private prisons in their
state were ahead of state prisons on their ability to provide rehabilitation, edu-
cation, and other services. Since the government is saving money there is more
funds available to give the private prisons for these rehabilitation programs.
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Future of Private Prisons?


The idea of ending prison privatization has been circling around for years. When Obama
was in office it was planned to shrink the private prison system from 22,000 to 14,000
people by 2017 and then eventually to zero. (Meesler). However, this plan was quickly
revoked when President Trump came into office. According to Burkhardt, a researcher
at Oregon State University, the prison industry is going to continue growing for three
important reasons. First private prisons will continue to imprison criminals because of
Trump’s order to the Bureau of Prisons to continue contracting with private prisons.
Second, because of Trump's target towards illegal immigrants there will be a growth in
the amount of detention beds needed. Finally, the reforming of the criminal justice sys-
tem and expanding of rehabilitation services has been an important goal for private pris-
ons. This provides more of an incentive for the private prison industry to continue grow-
ing.
Currently with Trump as president the outlook for private prisons is appearing better
than it ever has. Due to Trump’s promise to become stricter on crime and illegal immi-
gration, the need for private prisons will be higher. Private prison company operators
can prepare to see a pro-private era. This is evident when looking at the stock market
for private prison operators. Two of the biggest operators, CoreCivic and GeoGroups,
have seen their stocks double since election day (Long).
The future of private prisons was looking even more positive after a memorandum
was sent out from the Federal Bureau of prisons. It stated that in order to “alleviate the
overcrowding at BOP institutions” and to “maximize the effectiveness of the private
contracts” they must provide inmates for the private prisons. Not only are the public
prisons overcrowded but now the bureau is saying that facility administrators should ex-
pect a 12 to 14 percent reduction in prison staffing levels(Michaels). This is bad news for
public prisons because with less staff the violence rates will rise. They also will not be
able to house as many prisoners when staff is low. Private prisons will be needed to
make up for the loss.
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Prison Systems in Other Countries, Specifically Germany


The U.S. has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Not only that but it also has the
highest recidivism rate. The following graph demonstrates the difference between the United
States and other countries incarceration rates. The United States should be looking to model off
of countries with prison systems that focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. One
prison system in particular that stands out is Germany. The German Prison Act states that its
main goal is to, “enable prisoners to lead a life of social responsibility free of crime upon re-
lease, requiring that prison life be as similar as possible to life in the community”(Shames).
Incarceration rate per 100,000 Selected Countries

The United States has


710 per 100,000 of the
national population in-
carcerated

Sentencing Practices
The German prisons have a much different sentencing process than the United States. The sen-
tencing lengths tend to be much shorter. In 2006, 92% of sentences were less than two years
long while in the United States the average sentence is about three years(Shames). Germany
has alternative punishments to prison time, offenders are faced with fines, suspended sen-
tences or community service. A suspended sentences is one of the most common alternative
punishments used. The offenders sentence is suspended and they are put on probation, how-
ever, while on probation they have to complete community service. Having these alternative
punishments to prison time helps to keep the prison population low. If the United States were
to look into these alternative punishments it could help to address our issue of overcrowding.

Life Inside the Prison


Within the walls of German prisons it is a much different experience. The prison appears more
like dorm rooms at a college, with white walls and bright lighting, unlike the concrete walls seen
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in U.S. prisons. One American journalists explains his experience inside of a German prison,
“Cells have doors, not bars. It’s for privacy. Inmates can decorate as they please”(Whitaker). In-
mates are able to live a life similar to the life they lived before prison. They have the freedom
to wear their own clothing, make their own meals, work and gain an education while incarcer-
ated. Inmates are also still allowed to vote, this allows them to stay connected with society a
key component to normalization.
At Neustrelitz Prison, in Germany, there is a metal shop that prisoner can work in and learn
skills that can be applied once they are out of prison. A young man living in this prison speaks
on his experience, “I realized through therapy that I had a second chance”(Chammah). He was
one of the many that larned to weld in the prisons metal shop. He hopes to find a job in weld-
ing when he is released. The prison is setting him up for success because There is a high de-
mand for that skill due to Germany’s car industry. They are also potentially benefiting the
economy because it is adding another person who can contribute to the workforce.

Discipline Within the Prison


Even while emphasizing normalization and rehabilitation, they are still able to discipline in-
mates. They do it in a way that is more humane than the United States ways of discipline. Offic-
ers are taught to treat the inmates with respect. They respond to violations with different disci-
plinary measures. For example, if there is a violation related to money, the inmates access to
funds is restricted.(Shames). When an inmate needs solitary confinement due to behavior, it is
used only for a brief time. At Waldeck Prison, the solitary confinement was only used 2-3 times
in the past year, and only for a short time(Shames). The fact that they only used it several times
illustrates their understanding of the importance of treating inmates as humans. When they are
in solitary confinement, officers provide regular contact and provide programs that will give
them opportunities to earn their way out of the isolation. No human should be locked away
alone for more than a short period time because that is far from normal.

Operation of a Private Prison


After reading the overview of a private prison, there should be a better understanding of what
it is. The following will be a hypothetical situation for building a private prison in the state of
Missouri. The firm constructing the prison is referred to as MKP Group. The prison will be con-
structed in a rural area outside the small town of Lexington, Missouri.
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Cost of Building

I. The Building Site


Some costs we must consider when constructing the build include:
A. Property purchasing cost, which includes buying the property that the prison will
be built on.
B. Utility costs, we must consider the costs of gas, waste, storm sewer, telephone,
electrical, and water lines
C. Site preparation costs, this is for preparing the site to be built on. It involves
clearing out unevenness so that a foundation can be built
D. Environmental impact study costs, we must hire someone to give us the correct
information on the environment surrounding our facility. This gives us the ap-
proval to build on it.

II. Construction
The total facility will be 106,524 square feet. The cost of construction is $300 per square
feet. Each prison cell will be 120 square feet, with inmate per cell. The total cost of the
prison itself will be approximately $31 billion.

III. Lay-out
The 106,524 square feet facility will sit on a 15 acre property. A 12 feet tall fence will
surround the perimeter. There will be three entrances in the prison. The first entrance is
for visitors. The second entrance is for prison workers and for the bringing in of inmates
to the facility. The third entrance is for deliveries coming into the prison.

Getting a Contract
The competition to acquire a prison contract is very low because of the minimal amount
of companies in the business. Currently in the United States the two biggest firms are
CoreCivic and Geo Group. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics 1999-2014, a one of
these firm runs three prisons in Mississippi, while a the other operates all in California
and Texas. Therefore, MKPGroup will have no competition when obtaining a contract
for a private prison in Missouri.
The state of Missouri currently has no private prisons and is in need of more prison
beds due to overcrowding. The state incarcerates 526 per every 100,000 people, this
makes them a state with one of the highest incarceration rates. Missouri state govern-
ment has contacted MKPGroups offering a contract to allow us to run a private prison in
their state. When contracting with the government, we must ensure that we will be able
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to maintain profits. A specific clause, the minimum occupancy clause, will be made to
contract between our private prison and the state government. By creating this clause it
helps to guarentee profits and lower the risk of revenue fluctuation(Leacock). In this
case MKPGroup will be contracting with the state of Missouri for an amount equal to
95% occupancy payment. This means whether or not we have 95% occupancy, the gov-
ernment will pay us as if we do. With a contract like this there will less of a chance of be-
ing accused of lobbying.
Once the contract is made MKPGroup must follow the high standards of the con-
tracted prison. These standards consist of three ideas: Accountable, Accredited, and An-
swerable.
1. Accountable: The private prisons are under a contract so they must fol-
low the requirements outlined in the Statement of Work(SOW).
2. Accredited: Within 2 years of receiving inmates, the prison must obtain
accreditation through American Correctional Association.
3. Answerable: All local, state, and federal laws must be followed when op-
erating.

Agreement with: The MKP Group, Inc.

Agreement type: Build, operate, and manage prison in the


state of New York. Renewal every three
years.

Date Approved 08 30 2018

Start Date 08 30 2018

End Date 08 29 2021

Contract Amount $1,830,000

This is an example of a potential contract between the Missouri states


government and MKP Groups. The contract is intact for three years
but if successful can be renewed.

Operation Plan
Now that the contract is approved by the state of Missouri, our private company, MKPGroups,
can open the prison. The prison is a minimum-risk level prison, therefore, it mainly will be hous-
ing drug offenders, DUI offenders, and immigrants. This prison is open to men age eighteen to
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thirty. The inmates will be provided by the state. We have the right to turn away any inmate we
feel does not fit the qualifications of our prison.

Main Goal
The main objective of this prison is to ensure rehabilitation during their sentence. By looking to
German prisons as a model and bringing in our own ideas this goal can be attained. We want to
create a facility that is better than most. One of the main priorities is to help the inmates and
ensure they will be a functional member of society when released. By decreasing the recidivism
rate, the government will see the successes of our prison. We hope that this will encourage
them to provide us with more funds that can be put back into helping inmates in the prison.

Basics of Operation

I. Prison Guards
The correctional officers, also known as prison guards, will be responsible for the super-
vision, safety and security of our inmates. Because this is a lower level security prison,
less guards will be needed. This prison will have 1 guard per 5 inmates. It is crucial that
the guards are trained properly because they have a large impact on the inmates experi-
ence in prison.

The guards will be trained in a way that mimics the way German prisons train their
guards. This means they will go through training that is more similar to a social worker
and behavior specialist(Shames). The training includes self-defense, criminal law, social
education, psychology education, and communication with prisoners. The guards will be
taught to understand that these prisoners are people too and deserve proper treat-
ment. We will emphasize the use of positive reinforcement and encouragement of pris-
oners to help them work towards rehabilitation.

II. On Site Duties


To lower operation costs we will implement a plan that allows inmates to contribute to
prison duties, specifically cooking and laundry. There will be a small staff of 15, hired by
the prison that helps with cooking and cleaning duties. However, the rest of the help will
come from the inmates. By giving them the opportunity to contribute with cooking they
can learn skills that may be applicable when they are released. It also allows them to
feel like they have a job and a purpose while in prison, therefore, keeping the situation
somewhat normal. Using inmates to work in the laundry department, will also be apart
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of our proactive plan for lowering operation cost. It will give them the opportunity to
improve work ethic skills and keep busy during their sentence.

III. Sources of Income


With a private prison, the state pays the prison daily for the number of inmates
housed in the prison. The money this private prison obtains from the state will
go back into the prison operation. It will be used to pay for all of the operation
expenses such as the cost of the guards and food.

However, obtaining income just from the state will not be enough to support the
high quality rehabilitation services we want to achieve. In order to accomplish
this, MKPGroup will find other private companies that are willing to pay to have
our inmates work for them. A small portion of the money will go to the inmates
for their work. The rest will go back into the private prison and then directly into
the rehab programs. An example of this was seen with the California forest fires,
the state of California was paying inmates $1 an hour to help clear thick brush to
stop the fire from spreading(Lopez). The state hired inmates to work for them.

There is not wildfires in Missouri, so we will be implementing a different plan. By


partnering with the DMV we will have inmates answer the phone calls that come
into the DMV. This is an idea that has been utilized in other prisons throughout
the United States. However, for our prison we will require that the DMV pays us
a portion of the money so that we can put it back into the prison. It can be seen
as them paying us for letting them hire our prisoners.

Rehabilitation
It is proven that rehabilitation can reduce recidivism rate of inmates. For the past 40
years the rearrest rate has remained at two-thirds(Petersilia). We want to be the ones
working to end this cycle. There are an endless amount of rehabilitation programs that
can be implemented. In our prison, MKPGroups will incorporate several rehabilitation
programs.
★ Educational Classes
Providing educational classes gives inmates the opportunity to build skills that
they can apply to the real-world. One class we will provide is a computer class.
Tech training can give inmates a skill to bring when they are released from
prison. By teaching them web-development, coding skills, and other technologi-
cal advancements we hope that they can use it for a job later on.
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Another educational opportunity for our inmates will be college courses. It was
found that inmates who enrolled in college classes had a re-offending rate of
18%. Those who did not had a re-offending rate of 40%(Vacca). This clearly
shows that providing opportunities to recieve an education while incarcerated is
crucial. We want our inmates to leave the prison feeling that they gained some-
thing proactive out of it despite the circumstances they faced.
★ Work Release
This will be another rehabilitation program implemented in our prison. Work-
release gives prisoners a chance to leave the prison grounds, have paid work and
return before 5pm. This opportunity will be available to those with a low public
safety risk. Work release is seen as beneficial for the inmates. It can help with
the negative effects of incarceration such as low self-esteem and feelings of iso-
lation from the community(Bales).

This is a great opportunity because the money they earn can be saved for when
they are released. It also can be used to enroll in programs within our prison
such as the educational classes.
★ Drug and Alcohol Programs
Our prison houses a high population of drug and alcohol offenders, therefore, it
is crucial to have a treatment program within the facility. In a study on the Effec-
tiveness of Rehabilitation it was found that 65% of offenders have a history of
drug use and only 15% get help from the prison. We want to ensure that 100% of
our prisoners get help if they need it. A common problem with these programs is
finding the funding, however, we see it as a way to save money in the long run. If
it cost our prison $60 a day to house the inmate and a drug treatment program
cost $52 this could potentially save $8 if it prevents them from returning.

Our Facilities Drug and Alcohol Program


The program will not be for informing inmates on the drugs or the conse-
quences. Instead it will emphasize how to live a drug-free lifestyle. We will en-
sure that after prison they have the opportunity to move to a “halfway” house to
continue living a drug-free life. A study on drug treatment in state prisons found
5 features that make up a program, that is ment to lower the recidivism
rate(Fallin).
1) A competent and committed staff
2) Support of correctional authorities
3) Adequate resources
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4) comprehensive , intensive courses aimed at affecting the lifestyle of cli-


ents beyond their drug abuse
5) Continuity of care after inmates are released
We have adopted the ideals behind these 5 features and will be implementing
them into our rehab program.

Benefits of Incentives
In our prison we will have incentives, the purpose of incentives is to reward inmates for good
behavior. The idea behind this is they will behave better if they know there is a reward. We
want the incentives to be an encouragement for inmates to work toward rehabilitating them-
selves. By working and being an active member of the prison community they can earn small
amounts of money. An example of helping the prison would be working in the kitchen or laun-
dry room. We hope that the money is an incentive to want to continue working. Another in-
centive of working is that the money they earn can be used towards classes that will educate
them and improve their life after prison.

We will keep track of how involved the inmate is. If we see that they are putting out an effort
towards rehabilitation and self-improvement, they can earn extra rewards. These include more
time for exercising, extra calls to family, or even in certain circumstances, early release.

Conclusion
The prison plan discussed above is a hypothetical situation. However, the ideas are realistic
ideas that could be applied to a private prison. The prison system in the United States needs to
be adjusted, especially as overcrowding becomes even more of a problem. How much longer do
we want our country to be seen as the one with the highest incarceration population? Our cur-
rent government situation, has provided an opportunity for private prisons to grow and im-
prove the way private prisons are viewed. If the public prisons are not going to put in the ef-
fort, then the private prisons need to be the ones stepping up. It is time to begin implementing
rehabilitation over punishment.
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