Monday, April 5, 2010

Private Prisons

By partnering with the state, private prisons could save the state of California $1.8 billion, according to this study by the Reason Foundation, as reported by this news release from the Howard Jarvis Tax Foundation.

An excerpt.

“Sacramento --- Every inmate in a California prison costs taxpayers over $47,000 a year. Because of the state’s astronomical prison costs, a new Reason Foundation-Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation study finds that California could save $120 million a year for each 5,000 inmates it sends to private prisons in other states. The report details a five-year prison privatization plan that would save California taxpayers $1.8 billion over that span by gradually transferring 25,000 inmates out of state.

“The Reason Foundation-Howard Jarvis report shows California spends three times as much per prisoner as Texas, which has nearly as many inmates. Texas spends $42.54 per inmate each day, while California spends at least $132.98 an inmate every day. Florida, with the third largest inmate population in the country, spends $52.90 a day per inmate.

“Prison privatization is becoming increasingly common in other states. Nearly 130,000 inmates are now housed in private facilities, with Texas sending over 20,000 inmates to them. In 2008, 14 states (Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming) had relocated at least 10 percent of their state prison populations to private-run facilities.

“Simply put: private prisons offer California a huge opportunity to save money,” says Leonard Gilroy, lead author of report and director of government reform at Reason Foundation. “The state’s labor costs and the lack of incentives to reduce costs have created a prison system that is helping wreck the state budget. Our partial privatization plan isn’t going to solve all of the problems, but it can put a big dent in them.”

“Our state cannot afford to continue to spend twice as much on prisoners as other similar states,” said Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “And Californians do not want to see criminals released early because we cannot afford to keep them behind bars. It’s time for new solutions that will keep our citizens safe and not require we break the bank to do it.”