Many critics question the strength of prison programming in private institutions, such as educational, job training and anger-management classes designed to help inmates (Tyler, 1996). Shichor (1997) has suggested that where quality issues are concerned, there is little evidence that privatization enhances the quality of everyday life in prisons. Keeping in mind that eventually most prisoners are released, Payne (1996a) stated that if public policy becomes weighted toward punishment and away from rehabilitation, private industry may win, but society will lose. It would be unhealthy for society at large to be reintegrating angry offenders back into our communities. The critics have argued that the privatization debate impedes the development of alternatives to the prevailing correctional policies when the major challenge should be focussed on reinventing corrections as a public service and not a private business (Ramsay, 1996).

If prison privatization is undertaken, the John Howard Society of Alberta strongly recommends that the following be ensured:

1) A significant cost savings from privatization be demonstrated.

2) The Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to private prisons in order to protect the rights of offenders.

3) The government remains ultimately responsible for custody, care, control, conditional release and classification of standards.

4) Incarcerated individuals have access to programs which will reduce the levels of recidivism.

5) Access to private prisons by community groups is contractually guaranteed.

6) Ongoing monitoring of the specific terms of the contract is conducted.

7) Comprehensive, independent evaluations of private prisons are conducted and recommendations implemented.

8) The inmates’ ability to grieve to an outside source is protected. (John Howard Society of Alberta, 1994)


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