Report: Privatization of U.S. Prisons Problem for At-Risk Communities, People

Just One Film/Getty Images

By Kyndall Dowell and Karime Montano

WASHINGTON, DC – Kristen M. Budd, an academic research analyst in social behaviors and legal reform/injustices, has documented the trend of private prisons across the country, according to an article published by The Sentencing Project.

The study noted how a number of states use private prisons to accrue wealth, with the number of inmates significantly increasing within the span of two decades, noting the increase of incarceration during the 1980’s is what triggered the surge. 

Though created during a time of peak crime, the parameters for such convictions remain questionable, said the author, charging often lost in research and conversation is how minority communities were targeted, during these eras of mass incarceration.

According to Budd, the use of private prisons has been controversial, with 27 states and even the Federal Government turning to the use of private companies such as GEO Group, Core Civic, LaSalle Corrections and Management and Training Corporation. 

Budd explains the historical context behind the expansion of private prisons, citing “harmful crime policies of the 1980’s and beyond ” that also drove the increase of the nation’s prison population. This surge, as she notes, created a burden towards the public sector, allowing for the creation of privatization of these correctional facilities as a solution.

“While Montana is at the top of the list, Tennessee, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, New Mexico, and are among the states that rely heavily on private prisons. Between 20 and 39 percent of those behind bars in these states are kept in private prisons,” stated Budd.

The study by The Sentencing Project indicates that since 2000, people held in these private prisons climbed up to five percent, and while it may appear minimal, it does reflect the rise in the total prison population over the last two decades.

Budd emphasized the federal government’s participation in private prisons, noting the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has historically been the largest system to rely on privatization. However, since 2000, the BOP’s reliance on private facilities has been reduced by 11 percent, Budd added.

The Sentencing Project said, in 2022, there were 13,834 prisoners in federal detention at private prisons. This decline is due to President Joseph Biden’s executive decision to phase out the BOP’s use of private prison beds.  

The Sentencing Project suggested other political factors have played a significant role in the expansion for making prisons privately owned, noting as the number of prisoners increased for the first time in 2022 after a decade, privatization of prisons will continue to be a problem that will quickly escalate.

About The Author

Kyndall Dowell is a graduating student from the University of California, Berkeley where she began her long standing career in student organizing and activism, headlining campaigns, building coalitions, and chairing departments across the state of California. Many of her efforts included K-12 reform, school-to-prison pipeline, and police brutality, as well as efforts around supporting marginalized student groups and communities on campus with obtaining access to funding and other essential resources. She has earned her Bachelors in African American Studies with a double minor both in Education and Race and Law. She hails from Inglewood's East Hyde Park District where repeated exposure to the criminal justice system from an early age allowed her to find her place in social justice and advocacy work, where she knew she wanted to be on the right side of history making. Kyndall's career passions are greatly influenced by her South Los Angeles upbringing where she spent a great deal of her youth, living in West Adams, Baldwin Village also known as 'The Jungles', and Crenshaw's 59th and Slauson neighborhoods. In an attempt to avoid the troubles of street violence her mother moved her and her sisters to Hawthorne, where she attended Leuzinger High School off Rosecrans and Jefferson in an area less criminally active though heavily policed. She's a skilled facilitator in Restorative Justice and hopes to use her education and transformative Black Feminist philosophy to become an impactful Criminal Defense Attorney. At the current moment she is working as a Legal Assistant at a Law Firm in downtown Oakland and will be pursuing her Paralegal license through the UCLA Law Certificate program to obtain in-field experience before tackling Law school. In her free-time she enjoys shopping, cooking, reading, traveling and hanging out with friends.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for