GROWTH AND QUALITY OF U.S. PRIVATE PRISONS: EVIDENCE FROM A NATIONAL SURVEY*

Authors

  • SCOTT D. CAMP,

    1. Scott D. Camp, Ph.D., Organizational Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University (1991), moved to the Office of Research at the Bureau of Prisons as a Research Analyst in 1992. His current research focuses on organizational performance, prison privatization, program evaluation, inmate misconduct, and prison staffing. His most recent publications include “Quality of Prison Operations in the U.S. Federal Sector: A Comparison with a Private Prison” (with Gerald G. Gaes and William G. Saylor), Punishment & Society (2002); “Racial Diversity of Correctional Workers and Inmates: Organizational Commitment, Teamwork and Worker Efficacy in Prisons” (with William G. Saylor and Kevin N. Wright), Justice Quarterly (2001); and “Do Inmate Survey Data Reflect Prison Conditions? Using Surveys to Assess Prison Conditions of Confinement,”The Prison Journal (1999)
    Search for more papers by this author
  • GERALD G. GAES

    1. Gerald G. Gaes, Ph.D., Social Psychology, State University of New York at Albany (1980), joined the Bureau of Prisons in 1980 and has served as Director of the Office of Research since 1988. His current research interests include prison privatization, evaluation methodology, inmate gangs, inmate classification, criminal justice simulations, prison crowding, prison violence, and the effectiveness of prison program interventions on post-release outcomes. His most recent publications include “Managing the Serious Violent Juvenile Population through Improvements in Classification and Juvenile Programming,” in Gary Katzmann (Ed.) Managing the Serious Violent Juvenile Offender, Brookings, in press; “Adult Correctional Treatment,” in Michael Tonry and Joan Petersilia (Eds.) Prisons, Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, Volume 26, University of Chicago Press, 1999 (co-authored with Tim Flanagan, Larry Motiuk, and Lynn Stewart); and “The influence of gang affiliation on prison violence and other misconduct,”The Prison Journal, in press, (coauthored with Susan Wallace, Evan Gilman, Jodi Klein-Saffron, and Sharon Suppa)
    Search for more papers by this author

  • *

    The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of either the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the U.S. Department of Justice. The empirical data for this report were taken from a report submitted by the Department of Justice to the U.S. Congress.

Abstract

Research Summary: Private prisons incarcerate 5.3% of the sentenced, adult population in the United States. The present study presents selected results from a 1999 survey of administrators who monitored private prisons in the United States (or U.S. territories). Among the findings of interest, the private sector experienced significant problems with staff turnover, escapes, and drug use. Where possible, private prison operations were compared with those of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Policy Implications: Given the issues raised here with public safety, public sector agencies contracting for private prisons need to develop incentives or other means to ensure that private sector operators retain experienced custody staff.

Ancillary