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PLN managing editor's letter on Temple study published in FL paper

Sun Sentinel, Jan. 1, 2013. Friedmann: For-profit prisons are not necessary
PLN managing editor's letter on Temple study published in FL paper - Sun Sentinel 2013

Alex Friedmann: For-profit prisons are not necessary

By Alex Friedmann

June 6, 2013

In a recent op-ed, "Prison privatization can provide real benefits," Temple University professors Simon Hakim and Erwin Blackstone discussed their recent research that found cost savings and equal or better performance by for-profit prison companies. Based upon their research findings, they suggested the state consider prison privatization.

Florida currently has seven privately-operated prisons that house state prisoners. Last year the Senate rejected plans to privatize around 29 facilities in South Florida. However, while we'll always need to incarcerate people who commit crimes, there is no reason to have for-profit prisons. Comparatively, we don't have a for-profit police force.

Unfortunately, the professors neglected to mention that their research lauding the benefits of prison privatization was funded by members of the private prison industry, according to a press release issued by Temple University.

Likewise, their study itself, which has not been published or peer-reviewed, fails to reveal that it was funded by private prison firms.

The professors further neglected to mention that they may have a predisposition to favor the private sector because they both have previously advocated for the privatization of government services, including privatized police functions.

The public has a right to know when academic research is funded by for-profit companies that directly benefit from the results of that research, such as tobacco companies funding research on smoking.

Both CCA and GEO Group, the nation's leading private prison companies, are now promoting the Temple study.

It's remarkable how research that is funded by private prison firms frequently finds cost-savings or other benefits through prison privatization, while studies that do not receive industry funding typically report no such benefits.

Alex Friedmann is president of the Private Corrections Institute, a Tallahassee-based non-profit that opposes prison privatization. He resides Nashville, Tenn.



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