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date: 13 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the current state of practice, policy, and research related to privately operated prisons in the United States. I begin with a brief overview of the history of the rapid growth in the private sector in the United States, followed by a discussion of costs of public versus private prisons. While costs are easily quantified, assigning the proper costs to the public and private sectors has presented much controversy in previous studies. The issue of quality of correctional services provided by public versus private prisons is also reviewed, given that there is little agreement on the type of measures that allow for fair comparisons of public and private prisons. The chapter concludes with thoughts on issues facing public and private prisons in an era marked by stability or decline as opposed to rapid growth in prison populations.

Keywords: private prisons, privately operated prisons, public versus private prisons, quality of correctional services, prison populations

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