Surprise, Republicans Lied to Us: Private Prisons Don’t Save Money
By Lauren Kelley, AlterNet
Posted on May 20, 2011, Printed on May 21, 2011

In recent months, a number of Republican state leaders have pushed efforts to privatize prisons in the name of saving money for their states. There are already plenty of reasons to be wary of privatized prisons — for instance, they create financial incentives to keep people behind bars. And now we have solid evidence, via the New York Times, that the fiscal argument for privatizing prisons is bunk:

Despite a state law stipulating that private prisons must create “cost savings,” [Arizona’s] own data indicate that inmates in private prisons can cost as much as $1,600 more per year, while many cost about the same as they do in state-run prisons.

The research, by the Arizona Department of Corrections, also reveals a murky aspect of private prisons that helps them appear less expensive: They often house only relatively healthy inmates.

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