Essays on Prison Privatization in New South Wales Essay

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Executive summary Privatization of prisons is a topic that has been the center of much debate for more than a decade resulting in the generation of several reports and briefs on the same. By definition, privatization in the strict sense refers to the act of employing private organizations or companies to operate a prison facility. This is a concept that has been employed in several provinces in Australia and has resulted in several effects on the corrective services system. The difference however lies in the majority stake that the government retains in the management of the center. One of the first attempts by the NSW government to privatize was in 2008 when it announced that plans were underway to privatize several prison facilities.

However, this decision was overturned the following year for the Cessnock prison. The goal was to help the government cut back on costs which would allow it to have funding that could be diverted to other areas. Every year, over two billion dollars is spent on imprisoning adults (Green, et al. , 2014, 3). It is expected that this figure will rise as the years go by. Introduction to the specific case NSW has 33 public prisons and 2 private prisons (Green, et al. , 2014, 3).

The Junee Correctional Centre was the first private prison in New South Wales. It was opened in 1993 (General Purpose Standing Committee No. 3, 2009, 10). It has been run by GEO since then to date and was the first prison in Australia to be managed by a private firm under a single contractual agreement[1]. GEO manages the prison but it is owned by the NSW government. The prison has the capacity to hold over seven hundred inmates and is classified as a medium-security facility. it has in its employ a doctor, dentist, and nursing staff in the medical department.

Not all staff work full time. The prison has several partnerships with other programs that are aimed at aiding the inmates once they are released. Key issues The private sector is driven by the generation of profit. This is one of the key motivators that influence service delivery standards and customer service. As such, in a bid to ensure that they cannot only maintain their customers but surpass their expectations, private firms generate customer-centered strategies.

As a result, it is expected that the privatization of prisons would result in the government being able to meet its objectives as the company awarded the responsibility of running a privatized prison would be obligated to deliver on the terms agreed upon. Failure of the same would mean that firm was unable to meet its customer’ s needs. On the flip side, since the main objective for privatization is cost-cutting, this might result in the third party i. e.

the prisoners suffering owing to a depreciation of the level of services offered owing to budget cuts. This leads us to the next issue on maximum occupancy for maximum profit. The 1992 report on private Prisons in Australia (Green, et al. , 2014, 5) indicated that when the first private prison was open in Queensland, the contract stipulated that the costing was based on full occupancy. This means that vacancies must be quickly filled and the prison kept at full capacity. This has a ripple effect on public policy and leads to several ethical issues being brought to question. One of the questions that arise is whether private firms should be capable of taking on the role of punishing lawbreakers.

It translates to the power that the people have placed on the government being given to private institutions that do not have public interest as their core motivator. Issues of loss of freedom and one's liberties, as well as isolation and difficulty maintaining relations within the society (Green, et al. , 2014, 6), become a power that these private firms now possess. These firms are allowed discretionary powers to determine the privileges the inmates are provided with, their living conditions as well as the punishment they face when behind bars.

The result is public policy issues on transparency and accountability (Green, et al. , 2014, 6) have many unanswered questions and this translates to a system that does not evoke a sense of reliability in the eyes of the public. Potential costs and benefits of alternatives NSW has the lowest rate of imprisonment within Australia and this explains why the government has not been extremely proactive in the expansion of the privatization strategy for prisons.

However, it has been noted that the number of people imprisoned each year has been gradually on the rise. The rate has increased to over ten percent each year(General Purpose Standing Committee No. 3, 2009, 10) which is an indicator that the current prison facilities will be inadequate in the next few years as the prison population increases. The report by the Standing Committee has borne the brunt of much criticism largely centered on its core objective which is to manage costs. Data collected indicates that the cost per inmate per day in a public prison is much higher compared to that in a private prison.

The table below represents the figures presented in the report approved by the legislative council:     2001/2002 2002/2003 2003/2004 Department of Corrective Services The average cost for each prisoner daily ($) 167.85 187.00 187.80 Junee Correctional Centre The average cost for each prisoner daily ($) 92.04 93.54 91.75 (Cahill & Andrew, 2008) From the above table, it is clear that one of the greatest motivators for the NSW government to rally support for the privatization of prisons and implement such programs is related to cost.

The element of ensuring that the inmates receive the assistance they need to reform, which is a mandate of the government is not a major factor as far as privatization is concerned. This has resulted in many critics declaring that we risk a more decayed a depraved society in the name of saving a couple of millions. One cannot help but wonder whether this program will be of benefit in the long run. Rationale for decision Roughly twenty percent of the prison population in Australia are held in privatized corrections facilities. At the heart of the neo-liberal theory is the conception of a good society.

This happens to be one of the least forms of state regulation geared towards individual economic stakeholders (Cahill & Andrew, 2008, 2). Neo-liberals hold the position that free markets result in the best efficiency of the economic organization through privatization processes which lead to the retreat of the state, deregulation, reduction of state expenditure as well as marketization. Some authors view this theory as a new form of capitalism as it affects relations between the state and its economy.

The noted problem with neoliberalism is its unseen development on both the temporal and geographical fronts (Cahill & Andrew, 2008, 3). Recommendation to the Minister For a comprehensive implementation on the way forward which can be applied to all correctional centers where privatization is an intended goal. That the NSW set up a compensation scheme for all the employees that will be at a disadvantage once the privatization takes effect which will cushion them against the negative effects that such a move will have on their employment (General Purpose Standing Committee No. 3, 2009, 109).

This can either be in the form of a transfer or a going-away package for voluntary redundancy. The Department of Corrective Services needs to publish a paper detailing its costing methodology with a focus on the allocation of departmental overheads to private and public correctional facilities in NSW (General Purpose Standing Committee No. 3, 2009, 19). Secure placement for the existing staff members of any facility set to be privatized. That the NSW government employs independent health service providers within the prisons. For all the privatized correctional centers to be listed on the Department of Corrective Services website and for the contracts of the same to be published on the website (General Purpose Standing Committee No. 3, 2009, 19). Publishing of Key Performance Indicators that are used to measure the effectiveness of privatization and for the data to be published on the Department of Corrective Services Department website. That the department periodically conducts confidential surveys on inmates and the officers to identify issues relating to the quality of services (General Purpose Standing Committee No. 3, 2009, 18).

This can be done bi-annually. For the NSW to set up a Committee whose core focus will be the privatization program. That the NSW government sets a minimum amount that the Department of Corrective Services should have in terms of savings owing to the privatization of prison centers.

This will help to determine the effectiveness of the program as far as cutting down the budget is concerned.  

References

Cahill, D. & Andrew, J., 2008. Privatisation and New South Wales Prisons: Value for Money and Neo-liberal Regulation. [Online]

Available at: http://regulation.upf.edu/utrecht-08-papers/dcahill.pdf

[Accessed 1 September 2015].

General Purpose Standing Committee No.3, 2009. Inquiry into the privatisation of prisons and prison-related seervices, Sydney: Legislative Council.

Green, B., Inch, M., Kitamura, H. & Kospic, A., 2014. Privatisation of prisons: Key issues. [Online]

Available at: http://www.catholicprisonministry.org.au/uploads/1/4/0/0/14000651/privatisation_of_prisons_march_2014.pdf

[Accessed 1 September 2015].

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