Indiana’s new prisons chief may build the state’s first private prison to help ride out a two-year budget freeze amid projections of a surge in inmates, the Indianapolis Star reports. Correction Commissioner J. David Donahue dropped the previous Democratic administration’s plans for a new state-run 1,800-bed prison for men and a juvenile prison dormitory. Along with related moves such as outsourcing nursing care and cooking, a private prison for Indiana’s growing adult prison population appears likely. “I’ll be looking at an opportunity for a private facility to be sited, financed, built and operated by private companies,” said Donahue, a former vice president and chief operating officer for U.S. Corrections Corp., a private prison company.
Critics challenge the ethics of hiring private companies to imprison people, charging they cut corners to boost profits. Indiana would join the federal government and states such as Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana, and Alaska that have placed more than 85,000 inmates in the custody of for-profit companies, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The nation’s largest owner and operator of private prisons, Corrections Corp. of America, runs 64 facilities with about 70,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Last year, the company reported profits of $61 million.