Privatizing prisons has been a controversial "solution" to prison overcrowding since the influx of incarcerations following the War on Drugs during the Reagan presidency.

The primary problem with privatized prisons is they profit from overcrowding and keeping inmates longer than the crime committed warrants. Statistically they are known for holding inmates several months longer than government-run facilities.

The argument that private prisons are a cost saver to the state is inaccurate. Minimum security facilities may break even, but medium and maximum facilities lose money. Local senators agree that focusing on rehabilitation programs and early release on good behavior is the best option to ease overcrowding.

States that have attempted to integrate private prisons into their systems have had consistent issues with quality in almost every aspect. There have been multiple cases where food, sanitation and basic health care have been so far below the ethical requirement judges have removed prisoners from the facilities.

One of the worst side effects of privatized prisons' cutting corners to save money is inadequately trained staff. Due to the gross lack of training provided for incoming guards, private prisons have significantly higher rates of overall violence and inmate abuse by guards.

In interviewing several Wisconsin senators, I noted a bipartisan consensus on the negative ethical and financial consequences that would inevitably come with introducing private prisons to our state. Overall, it is clear that privatizing prisons is not only a bad direction for our state but something that should be thoroughly eliminated from our country as well.


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