Inmate “Outsourcing” Ended By Several States

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Some states are rethinking the outsourcing of their inmate populations to other states, says the Christian Science Monitor. Some policymakers say exporting prisoners may hurt more than it helps. Concerns include riots as gangs battle rivals from other states, higher recidivism rates, and hardship on families who must travel farther to see loved ones. States also must weigh the costs of building new prisons against the jobs that can be created in struggling locales. Wyoming has plans to bring all 550 of its displaced prisoners back by 2007; Arizona, which has sent more than 2,100 prisoners to private facilities out of state, is withdrawing 400 from an Oklahoma prison after a May riot there injured dozens; Hawaii is looking for places to house 1,000 prisoners now in mainland facilities; Wisconsin, which once led the nation in the number of inmates placed beyond state borders, hopes to have all but 500 back by year end.

States want better drug treatment and job training than many private prisons offer. Some states cite a crisis of confidence in the private prison system, and its hastily built facilities with less emphasis on rehabilitation, said Chase Riveland, ex-corrections chief in Washington and Colorado. He also sees politics in the decision to bring inmates home. “You would find very few corrections officials who would admit that they like [sending prisoners out of state],” he said. “Take Wisconsin, a strong union state. When you have 5,000 inmates out of state – the equivalent of four or five prison systems – that’s a lot of jobs lost.”

Link: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0921/p01s02-usju.html

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