Many advocates of privatized prisons argue that they are more cost effective and efficient than bureaucratic government agencies. Because of this I looked through Google Scholar searches and at the websites of CCA (Correction Centers of America) and GEO Group for documents that cast the debate from the pro side. These are the two biggest players in the industry. Unfortunately I was unable to find much of substance. It is my goal to present a balanced viewpoint but there isn’t much literature out there arguing the pro side of privatized prisons. So unable to find a pro argument I decided instead to see if there was any writing on the cost comparison and financials published by government agencies.
I found one report that was by many other articles cited called For Year 2009 Operating Per Capita Cost Report: Cost Identification and Comparison of State and Private Contract Beds issued by the Arizona Department of Corrections. This report lays out several scenarios weighted by level of security and compares the costs of state and private contractors. This is a high quality source since there is rigorous methodology, unbiased in outcome and driven by numbers. Both the pro and con can make reasonable logic based arguments, but the truth comes from seeing it in practice.
There is also a section that compares services rendered by the state vs. private contractors. This is likewise valuable because cost is not the only factor. If the purpose of prisons is protecting the public and correction of inmates, then there should be investment in programs that help rehabilitate inmates. So, in essence the report is comparing the cost but also quality of services. The findings from this report can be reasonably assumed to be applicable in other states and at the federal level.
One interesting thing to note is that private companies became less efficient as the level of inmate security rose. And, there was no analysis done for maximum security inmates because private companies refuse to house them.
Check out the report here: https://corrections.az.gov/sites/default/files/adc_fy2009_percapitarep_revised.pdf