Monday, August 23, 2010

Privately Owned Prisons?

Here's another example of just how bad the Republican ideology has become. There is no way the free market can support our jails. How could they? Can you imagine how private industries would compete in the incarceration business? You put two prisons right next to each other, each saying they can jail hardened prisoners cheaper than the other?

It makes no sense. But yet, conservative ideology these days has taken this anti-government, private industry is always better than public industry to the extreme.

Government is always going to do a better job than private industry in areas where there is no natural competition. Here's why. Private companies have no accountability if you have no competition. There is no incentives to produce high quality at lower costs if you have nothing really to compete with.

The government does have accountability - voters and the press. High crime statistics are powerful incentives for politicians to do something about crime. The media spotlight on incidents of innocent people going to jail or getting punished more severely than their crime deserves is a deterrent against politician overreach.

If you just offload an intrinsic responsibility to the private sector, this accountability is obscured. And the sad results are private prisons that are less secure and more expensive than they otherwise should be.

Let's hope we learn our lesson that we can't free market our way out of all our problems.

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