People of color are more likely than whites to serve time in private prisons, says a new study by University of California-Berkeley researcher Christopher Petrella reported by Mother Jones magazine. Private prisons generally have higher levels of violence and recidivism and and provide less sufficient health care and educational programming than equivalent public facilities.
The study compares the percentage of inmates identifying as black or Hispanic in public prisons and private prisons in nine states, finding that there are higher rates of people of color in private facilities than public facilities in all nine, ranging from 3 percent in Arizona and Georgia to 13 percent in California and Oklahoma. Petrella says the disparity casts doubt on cost-efficiency claims from the private prison industry. Private prisons have lower rates of older inmates because they often contractually exempt themselves from housing medically expensive—which often means older—individuals. The number of state and federal prisoners housed in private prisons grew 37 percent from 2002 to 2009, reaching 8 percent of all inmates in 2010.