Private Prisons a Smart Strategy for Arizona

Prison privatization opponents rely on myths, not facts

Letter to the Editor at the Arizona Daily Star

Susan Maurer’s fears of prison privatization (“Privatizing prisons: A shortsighted fix, a long-term nightmare,” Nov. 10, 2009) are based on myths, not facts.

Private prisons are helping federal, state and local governments deliver quality correctional services and programming amid tightening budgets. A 2008 Vanderbilt University study showed significant cost savings through prison privatization, and a recent Harvard Law Review article found that private prisons outperform public prisons on most quality indicators.

Moreover, private prisons are subject to strong government oversight and are held accountable to the standards set by the public sector and independent accreditation agencies. Private prisons also have strong track records on safety, security and the development of innovative inmate education and treatment programs.

Taxpayers should not be misled. With prison capacity needs growing and budgets shrinking, a greater reliance on private prisons is a sensible strategy for Arizona.

Leonard C. Gilroy
Director of Government Reform, Reason Foundation